Got a Serious Goal? Make it Public.

I, Mr. Money Mustache, am going to gain twenty pounds of muscle mass, AND set a lifetime bench-pressing record…by March 21st, 2013!

You heard it here first, and now I absolutely have to get it done, to avoid an incredible public ridicule and loss of credibility. I’m both nervous and excited as I type this, because I know there is no turning back, and I’m really looking forward to reaching the goal.

There are many useful tips in the old toolkit of traditional self-help tricks. Most of them sound cheesy, but a good portion of them are pretty darned effective. Thinking Big. Optimism. Learning from other successful people. Shedding the burden of stress. They don’t sound all that scientific or academic, so smart people like us have a habit of wrinkling our noses and dismissing them as oversimplifications not suitable for our sophisticated psyches. But we do so at our own peril, because academic-sounding or not, some of the stuff works. And we can get a lot more fun out of life if we can learn to tweak our own mental habits by putting some of these tricks to work.

And so we get to today’s tweak: The Publicly Proclaimed Goal. Why is it so powerful? Why is it worth embracing?

For many of the things we do in life, no particular goals are required. We all go to sleep when we’re tired and wake up in the morning. Most of us manage to keep the fridge stocked, get to work on time, spend time with our friends, and take vacations each year. I can see that making time to read Mr. Money Mustache is proving to be fairly easy for you as well. For anything that is already going just fine, goal-setting may seem unnecessary.

But then there are the troublesome areas. Perhaps you have wrestled with eating, smoking or drinking problems for years. Maybe you’ve wanted to learn a musical instrument or a language, find yourself a better job, or relocate to a better town. And while the desire has been there for a long time, you mysteriously find yourself not acting on it for years on end. Excuses pile up, or unsatisfying filler activities pour in to fill up the space in your life that could easily be used to accomplish the bigger goals.

This is a potentially serious problem, because it’s a form of wasting your life. Your personal “dream” goals are probably more important than the daily habits you’ve formed. Is spending more time car-commuting, scrolling through Facebook or watching TV sports more important than achieving the things you dream about?

To get these elusive things to happen, you may just need a psychological plateau-breaker. Something to shake up your internal Excusitis Cocktail and spur you into a pattern of action that gets you towards your goal. And as it turns out, developing a habit of small but frequent action that moves you in the right direction is all it takes to accomplish just about anything, given sufficient time.

I’ve got plenty of unsatisfied goals circulating around in my own head, most of them related to music. My often-stated goal of being the drummer in a local funk band is no closer to happening than it was the last time I stated it. My skills on the guitar remain similarly rusty. The common factor in all of these things is that I never take action on them. Other things always seem to take precedence over organizing rocknroll nights where people make music together. The results reflect the lack of effort.

Other things seem to work out just fine. I manage to do plenty of bike riding, because I’m out of the habit of using the car. I have no choice but to go out on the bike, because it’s the only way to get my son to school and to get myself to and from the grocery store. So I either bike, or I sit at home starving while my child misses school. Similarly, eating well is pretty easy – I only buy food that is good for you, so when it’s mealtime at the MMM household, you either fix yourself a healthy meal, or you starve. I do plenty of writing on this blog, because the feedback from the real world (You) makes it seem rewarding and urgent to make at least an article or two every week.

These external motivations are powerful forces that allow habits to be built. Meanwhile, my failed musical habits are allowed to continue because nobody shows up at my house every Friday night with guitar and bass in hand expecting to rock.

So today I’d like to try an experiment in motivation, by turning an internal semi-motivation into an external MegaMotivation. And you’re welcome to join me, if there’s anything YOU would like to accomplish this winter.

Right now, I really want to gain some strength and weight. Although I claim to be a weight-training enthusiast, the truth is that I have been slacking off and fooling myself for quite some time. I reached my peak strength way back in my early 30s, with a body weight of just over 200 pounds, maximum bench press of 285 and squat of 360. Although those are far from NFL player numbers, I felt they were a good start for a nerdy computer engineer.

Then I slacked off and started letting other things replace the training schedule. I fooled myself into thinking I was still lifting regularly, but every time I checked the calendar, it had been about a week since the last workout. But nobody was watching and I didn’t have any particular strength goals, so the pattern continued. I changed my eating style and lost quite a bit of fat, and the new lean body seemed preferable to the old stronger but stockier arrangement. Life seemed fine.

However, reality recently caught up to me. I started getting random cases of “old man back” – a sore lower back might spring up after carrying a garbage can full of rocks or sleeping in the wrong position. I started moving from “lean” to “downright bony in places”, my old pants started to look extremely loose, and my strength started dropping along with my bodyweight, which reached a low of 165 pounds. Slowly but surely, I have been turning into a wimp.

So today I turn to External Motivation to solve this problem. A man of my age has many reasons to maintain a reasonable amount of strength. Having a strong back and core prevents annoying pulled muscles and especially back problems. It makes me a more effective carpenter, since many of the operations on a construction project require all the strength you can muster. And it prevents injuries – a snowboarding or bicycle crash can be a debilitating hospital experience for an unfit and bony or overweight rider, or a comical bouncing experience for the amusement of your friends, with appropriate physical conditioning.

On top of that, I have been summoned to appear as Mr. Money Mustache in a possible (but far from definite) TV series. MMM is a bossy and authoritative character, and he needs to have a BIG physical presence to back it up if he is to make an impression on the television screens of ordinary Americans and frighten them into action.

So I hereby propose an experiment. To gain strength and size faster than I ever have in my life, and set an all-time lifting record even at a lower bodyweight. I have to get it done, because I told you I’m going to do it.

The nuts-and-bolts of it are just two really heavy workouts per week at the local Crossfit gym under the uncompromising gaze of the massively strong (and extravagantly Mustachioed) “Coach D.”, and a third weekend workout at home. Combined with plenty of bike riding, and plenty of calories. Here is the goal, by the numbers.

MeasurementCurrent Status (Nov 5)Goal (March 21)
Body Weight (lbs)165185+
Max. Bench Press235300
Max. Squat245 (est)300
Max. Deadlift250 (est)300
Bodyfat Percentage (estimated)910 or less

 MMM CHALLENGE:

Do YOU have a pesky goal that you just want to GET GOING on, right now? If you write it in the comments section below, we will all keep track of it and make sure you’re honoring your commitment. On March 21st, I will come back and check up on you, and your success (or, very unlikely, failure) will be shared with the world in that future article.

MMM SUPER-CHALLENGE!

Mr. Money Mustache (left) on the first day of training with coach James D. 20 pounds of gaining to go! (Yes, Coach D does actually have a foot-long braided Mustache)

Do YOU live in the Longmont, Colorado area and want to train alongside me in this mega-ultra-fitness overhaul? I’ll be working out at the Twin Freaks Crossfit every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30PM with the Almighty Coach D. You can join our exclusive class and make progress faster than you ever have in your life. Crossfit fees will cost you $100 a month (pay as you go), which is expensive. But I’m paying the fee gladly to make a big change in a short time, and it’s an external commitment that makes sure I won’t let myself down. Get in touch through the contact button, or talk to James at Twin Freaks Crossfit to join the class.

Proclaiming your goals in public really gets you off your butt to accomplish them. The only question is: do you have the guts to do it, when there’s no turning back?

 

Welcome New Readers! Take a look around. Feeling Hardcore? Start at the first article and read your way through using the links at the bottom of each article. Casual Sampler? Browse the complete list of all posts since the beginning of time. Hope to see you around here more often. ~ Love, Mr. Money Mustache

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172 Responses to “Got a Serious Goal? Make it Public.”

  1. Chris Gammell November 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    That’s a great goal!

    However, I think Derek Sivers would take issue with it. He says you should keep your goals to yourself. Thoughts?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      I’ll let you know on March 21st!

      • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies November 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

        By the way Mr MMM, since you’ve got your cheap iPhone, why not offset some of the gym costs by using GymPact? It’ll help you stick with your goals and put a little cash back in the stache at the same time. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now, and actually wrote a review on our site on Friday if you want an unbiased opinion!

      • MoreKnown November 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

        This. We had this same conversation recently about National Novel Writing Month. One of us wanted to tell as many people as possible. The other wanted to keep it to ourselves, only announcing the success once it was achieved.

        Both sides have merit, but we will only know which works better at the end of the month.

        Keep us posted!

      • cynthia November 14, 2012 at 11:58 am #

        OK, here’s my goal: 7 kilos less (about 15 pounds) by March 21st–going right along with ya! that or dropping two clothes sizes (in case I gain muscle and the pounds stay the same). I’ve been dragging them around for a few years and can’t seem to get them off (I hate exercising and gyms, but love walking and biking, so we’ll see)!

        Even yesterday, thinking about it before announcing it to you, I stopped myself from certain yummy dishes ( I live in France so luscious cheese and chocolate croissants are everywhere!) Thanks MMM for the idea!

        We’ve also tried going Primal/ paleo after reading about Mark Sisson here on your blog; love having more energy, no ‘drops’ in the afternoons or sugar crashes, just hard to find something for breakfast! and Im a natural vegetarian, so it’s a bit harder, but we like it! thanks again!

        so many ways you’ve changed our lives for the better (and I havent even started talking about the spending cuts and saving changes); and we’ve never even met! How can I ever thank you!?!

      • TommyTivo November 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

        MMM, I’m holding you to this physical feat that you WILL achieve. And you know what, I’m also gonna hold you to practicing on the guitar (just 15 minutes a day). Do you like classic rock, I’m currently learning Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here” and “Uncomfortably numb”.
        So we’ll have that beer and jam the next time I visit relatives in Broomfield :)

        • Mr. Money Mustache November 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

          Yeah, I’m open to putting a 15 minute guitar session into my busy day.. thanks for the challenge!

          Anyone have a recommendation for a specific book/video/website that would be fun for me to follow along with, to help me avoid the trap of just repeating the limited stuff I already can play?

          • Dave Galligan March 27, 2013 at 10:01 am #

            MMM, sorry I’m more than a little late to reply to your question. I’m new around here. I’ve been getting up to speed on becoming a Mustachianista. Back to your question; I have found great help on my guitar skills by visiting http://www.justinguitar.com. I still have to muster the ambition to pull the guitar out of the case, tune it up, and follow the lesson, and then practice, practice, practice. I like the format of his lessons, his cool nature, and the knowledge he shares. Good stuff for me, and hopefully for you and others.

    • Chris Gammell November 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

      As an addendum to my comment, in general I’m quite public about my goals, normally listing them on my website (when I manage to keep it updated…a meta goal of mine). I had just seen that talk mentioned recently though and thought it was an interesting counterpoint; especially since it seems so counter intuitive.

    • Chucks November 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      I was just thinking of the same video! I really have to side with Sivers. I think it’s nice to toot your own horn about goals you’ve already accomplished (say, when you’ve hit one of your lifts) but talking about how hard you’re going to work makes you feel like you’ve already done something even though you haven’t done anything.

      That said I think your goals are pretty reasonable. I deadlift around 405 now and squat 315. A lot of lifting isn’t raw strength so much as really good explosive technique, which your trainer can help you with. Your bodyfat percentage is way higher than 9% right now and it’s probably going to be around 15 %+ by the time you hit your lifting goals. Still, once you hit that you should able to maintain your strength and get down to a low body fat if you cut your calories gradually and keep lifting.

      • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

        Thanks for the tips Chucks! I’ve never done an advanced fat test, but what do you think about visual comparisons like this one?
        http://www.builtlean.com/2012/09/24/body-fat-percentage-men-women/

        From the pictures in that link, I was guessing a bit less than 10% right now (I updated the caption to clarify that I am the skinny guy on the left, not the guy on the right who just squatted 450 pounds in competition. I will spare the readers by not posting pictures of my belly), but expecting to gain a bit of extra stored energy from the heavy eating program over the next few months..

    • Chaz November 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      I think it depends on how many people you announce it to. In this case MMM is telling a wider audience about it – so there’s a lot more accountability involved. I actually have the same goal – gain 20lbs, but I told like two or three close friends. If I had announced to everyone at my workplace “hey I’m going to be 190lbs by next summer” I think it’s different.

      • biscuitweb November 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

        Right. I’d be interested in seeing research about the effects of making a broad announcement, followed by a program of periodic updates.

        My working hypothesis is that this would increase the likelihood of success, but in light of the counter intuitive existing research, I wouldn’t place a large bet on it.

        • Matt November 13, 2012 at 3:38 am #

          Well he does say it’s down to the congratulatory context and associated feelings. Success is more likely if those feelings are defered. For MMM, I think that’s the case, as people WILL call him on it if he doesn’t achieve his ambition, and if it was me, I’d feel rather nervous after making an announcement like this, rather than good. I wish him the best of success, and yes I will call him on it if I think he’s slacking ;)

    • Debbie M November 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      I think there are two competing tendencies. Telling people feels like you’ve taken action and tends to make you feel less inclined to make more. But letting other people hold you accountable tends to give you more motivation to take real action. I think either one can take over. In this case, MMM has tried the former method, and it makes sense to now try the latter method. It also probably depends how supportive the the other people are, how competitive the supporters make you feel, and other issues like that.

      • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies November 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

        Unlike many of our financial goals that we’ve posted publicly on our site (and the public aspect seems to be helping us stick to them), publicly posting my fitness goals would seem to make the PoPs less anonymous if I do indeed reach them since road race times are easily found on the interwebs these days. But, I tell the running goals to my IRL friends/coworkers, and everyone’s cheering me on to meet the running goals this winter!

    • FrugalCalan November 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      Yeah, I’m going to have to agree with this. In the past when I’ve tried to lose weight with the support of friends and family, the thought of disappointing them became distracting/overwhelming and I didn’t succeed.

      For the past couple of months I have decided to lose weight FOR ME. Combined with some new Mustachian habits (biking to my new job, packing super healthy lunches that I prepare once a week) and the pounds have been melting off.

      The biggest accomplishment for me so far is the kettlebells class I bought (I know, I know, it would be cheaper to work out at home… but it was $35 for 5 weeks, and I like the group atmosphere). I just finished day 1 of week 4, and you know what? I’ve been to every single class. Even though I have to wake up at 5:30 three days a week to get there (also, I get there by bike). This is pretty huge for me, since I hate waking up early. I haven’t really told anyone, and it’s definitely the strategy that’s working for me. I don’t have responsibility to anyone but myself.

    • Dragline November 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

      I think Sivers may be wrong on this one, or that his conclusions are unlikely to be applicable to people like MMM, who have a public presence and a reputation to protect.

      Anyway, I wouldn’t bet against MMM on this one.

    • Mandy @MoneyMasterMom November 13, 2012 at 8:42 am #

      Uh Oh, maybe Derek shouldn’t have started a website announcing his goal to be http://freeat33.com

      Mr Money Mustache, or Derek Sivers offer opposite opinions. I see merits in both arguments. Instead of Derek saying I will be free at 33 he needs to say – “I need to be increasing passive income streams so I can be free at 33.”

      Unfortunately we won’t know in March if announcing our stretch goal was a good move. We’ve got three years before we’ll know.

  2. Tara November 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    I already made my goal public to my friends here at work – I am trying to save $50k by next June 1st 2013. I disagree with Sivers, I think it is helpful to share your goals, so your friends can help you stick with your resolution.

    • RAechelle November 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      Tara – we’re on the same page. I agree, and we’re trying to pay off 100grand. By June of 2013 we’ll have all paid but — 2(? I think – I’d have to recheck my spreadsheet) big ones left. We’ve come up with all sorts of reasons why we need to spend money, but by announcing this to the world, it adds the pressure as well as the knowledge that – hey, this is real. No more screwing around, no more excuses. OUR reasons are no more valid than anyone else’s reasons that we mock. They’re all just excuses. (Ok, medical reasons are valid – I’m talking about mocking my family who says one thing then spends money again on frivolous stuff. “WE have REAL reasons…” No we don’t. No more excuses. I think making the goal public puts the pressure on yourself. No more wimping out. Nothing wrong with lots of stops and starts – that’s all part of the process of success, but once you’re done with all the stops….

  3. Steve D November 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    So, do you plan to go back to your old diet, or is the only change going to be the workouts?

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      I love the new diet, and it’s also apparently helpful for muscle gain (which is why serious crossfit athletes generally follow it). I’ll just be eating much more of this avocados/eggs/fish/fats-intensive stuff.

      • RAechelle November 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

        Sounds great, and I bet you’ll feel pretty incredible too with this diet.

      • Steve D November 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

        Whew! As someone who also follows the general principles of Paleo/Primal diet and exercise, I wholeheartedly endorse this plan of action. More good food –> stronger person.

      • Trina November 14, 2012 at 10:49 am #

        Can you give more details on the diet, or point us to the post where you’ve previously discussed it?
        Thanks so much!

  4. Baughman November 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Complete my 12th year of college and graduate the third time by August 2016. More near term: Pass all exams required to do so over the next 1-9 months.

    I’ve had similar bouts of buffness in the past. Then I realized that buffness is pretty overrated. Too time consuming to maintain it. And I’m not convinced that overall health is increasing in muscle mass. Why not focus on cardio instead? I guess you mentioned your back specifically as a reason why.

    I’ll do a half ironman triathlon before I die, assuming of course that I don’t die in the process of racing. Though I guess that dying in the process of schooling is a also growing possibility the longer I stick with it….

    • Kenoryn November 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

      The extra strength is a very handy thing in daily life. I’ve started working out again after a period of letting it lapse because I’ve been frustrated with how difficult it is to do things like carry groceries and use power tools. I’m renovating my house and have found there are some simple tasks I just can’t do on my own and have to call in male help for, like fitting pvc pipes together. A lot of the tools also have been designed for decades with male use in mind, and while I’m starting to see more that are designed to be compact and lightweight, they’re still few and far between.
      Anyway, being male you’re probably blessed without having to work at it with more strength than I’ll have post-working-out, so maybe it’s less of an issue for men. On the other hand, more is expected of men, since you’re the ones who get called in to move furniture, open jars, and all the other things we lightweights can’t manage, and maybe you face the same issues on a different scale.

  5. Tyler Karaszewski November 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    The problem with this is that, in general, other people don’t really care about our goals. They’re unlikely to bring them up again in three months or a year and ask about them, especially if they think we’re failing at them, because most of the people we’re likely to have told are people that generally like us and want to be nice to us.

    Even if I do tell a friend of mine, “Yeah, I want to accomplish X by date Y,” and he remembers around date Y to ask me “Hey, so how is X going, are you close to meeting that goal?” and I respond, “No, I’ve hardly made any progress”, he’s not going to ridicule me, because he’s my friend. He’s going to say, “well, too bad, but I understand that fatherhood/work/whatever is tough. Better luck next time.”

    The ridicule of my friends isn’t motivation for me because my friends don’t ridicule me. The ridicule of internet people isn’t motivation either, because I don’t have an audience of tens of thousands of people online who are keeping tabs on me. If I posted this article on my own blog, guess how many people would be there to check up on my progress in the comments? Zero.

    I think Mr. Money Mustache will probably succeed at his goal, because he is good at succeeding at things. I don’t know if having written this post will make any difference or not (the link that Chris posted above implies that, if anything, it’s hurt his chances).

    • Llama November 13, 2012 at 11:07 am #

      So are you NOT good at succeeding at things? Is there anything you can do to change that?

      Maybe your friend isn’t checking on your goals because you make it sound like you aren’t actually going to put in the effort to acheive them. There’s a big difference between, “Geez, I’d like to get stronger!” and “Here is how I plan to get stronger!”

      If you have an actual plan in place, you might even motivate your friend to join you, and then you will hold each other accountable. And then you’ll have a better chance of acheivement.

      In any case, let’s (yes, me especially!) quit whining and start doing! :)

      • Tyler Karaszewski November 13, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

        I’m great at succeeding at things. I just don’t have friends who enjoy shaming me.

  6. Holly@ClubThrifty November 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    My goal is to lose these pesky 7 pounds leftover from baby #2 in time for my upcoming vacation in February. We are going to the Caribbean without the kids for a week and I want to look and feel GREAT!

    Hold me to it, MMM.

    • Mandy @MoneyMasterMom November 13, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      Baby fat sucks, you got this one girl. When I was losing baby fat I would remind myself how long I’d have to exercise to work off and unhealthy snack. I usually ended up not eating it.

  7. rjack November 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    MMM – Here are some strength standards that you might be interested in:

    http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.html

    • Joshua Olson January 25, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

      Yeah. They’re great. They also show you’re WAAY behind on your deadlifts compared to your squat, by like 100 lbs!

  8. David November 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I’ll be interested in a post detailing how you plan on bulking up on the cheap. Even with extensive use of protein powder I find it hard to get enough protein per day at a reasonable price.

    • Matt November 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

      Seconded. I’m not currently trying to gain any weight, but am trying to get stronger. Eating just enough to (slowly) increase strength requires a tremendous amount of calories, and it’s expensive.

      By the way… at the risk of sounding like a smart-ass, this blog promotes DIY as being a big component of frugality/FIRE/low-consumption lifestyle, etc. So if you’re willing to DIY as much as you do, what prompted you to outsource your training (aka be a Crossfit consumer)?

      The DIY approach is substantially cheaper and not hard: pick up a copy of Mark Rippetoe’s “Starting Strength: 3rd Edition” for $25 or so, read it closely (it’s very information dense), and do the novice program (called a “linear progression”) described at the end. Once you’ve maxed that out, pick up his other book, “Practical Programming for Strength Training” and start doing an intermediate program like the Texas Method.

      The other consideration is trying to eat “clean” AND gain lean mass. It’s possible, but harder and slower, to keep your body fat percentage low while at the same time getting bigger and stronger. It’s much easier to take a two-step approach: first, bulk up while training by eating as much as possible (gallon of milk a day aka GOMAD is a good start); second, when you reach your strength goals, work on shedding the extra fat you picked up along the way.

      • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

        Yeah – I have always advocated Do-it-yourself fitness training as well: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/17/get-rich-with-olympic-barbells/

        But since I have a special interest in getting faster results right now, I’m trying this approach as a lifetime plateau buster. If a few hundred bucks can get me to a new place, it is a great deal. And the things I learn from the training will help me for many subsequent years.

        Remember that the calculations are different as life goes on – being in a debt emergency, or debt-free, or financially independent. Money has less of an influence on my decisions now, although environment and social stuff is just as important when deciding whether to spend or not.

        For the food calculations – it will definitely cost more to eat, since I need an extra 600 calories/day for 133 days to gain that weight. I’m going for 180g/day of protein during the test, and so the extra calories will come from extra eggs, ground beef (both organic/pasture type), nuts and delicious oily things like olive oil, coconut oil and avocados.

        • jf November 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

          I second the concern, MMM using a personal trainer? Didn’t think it was possible when self training seems straightforward. Perhaps the focus of this blog is evolving as MMM gains more wealth.

          I enjoyed the DIY/simple life MMM. Hope the TV personality/higher maintenance version is as insightful. Again, really enjoy the blog.

        • David November 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

          Twice a week for $100 a month? That’s a straight up steal for the time and attention of a personal trainer.

          • Trish Boyce November 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

            I have to say, crossfit is absolutely the way to go. I am an older American and have tried lots of different ways to get in shape. I stumbled on crossfit a few years ago and was so impressed with the results that when my trainer decided to open his own facility I invested in it. And that is a tremendous deal you’re getting.

    • Becky November 13, 2012 at 7:14 am #

      If you’re lactose tolerant, squats and milk are a great place to start! (GOMAD, or gallon of milk a day, put about 20# of mostly lean body mass on my husband, along with significant strength gains). Additionally, one of my favorite websites, Lift Big, Eat Big, did a great post on how to “eat big” on a budget – http://www.liftbigeatbig.com/2011/10/3-ways-to-eat-big-on-budget.html.

      Good luck getting strong!

  9. gestalt162 November 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    I’ve had a goal rattling around in my head for awhile now, MMM. And you have inspired me to commit it to the public record.

    In early August, 2013, I will be getting married. My bride-to-be and I have been together for over 6 years, and over that time my weight has steadily increased from my already-hefty pre-introduction weight of 220 lbs. A couple months ago , I topped out at north of 235 pounds, lost about 10 pounds in quick succession using MMM hunger tactics, and gained a few back. I now sit at 229 clothed. I am basically sedentary except for dog walking and work around the house. On top of this, various hereditary diseases run in my family, most of which are triggered by obesity and lack of exercise.

    So here’s my longer-term goal: by my wedding on August 3rd, I want to weigh in at under 200 pounds. So I want to lose 30 pounds, or about 13% of my body weight, in just under 9 months. By the power of linear interpolation, that means that my target for March 21st, 2013 is about halfway, or 214 pounds. This would put me back at the weight I was as a muscle-bound football player in high school, and going the full distance would put me at my lowest weight since about 6th grade. Wish me luck!

    • Sister X November 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

      Best of luck to you, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      I am with you, Gestalt and congratulations on that goal!
      Hopefully you will try a bread-free and lower-carb way of eating as part of your approach, and get some regular weight training in.

      Those two things, combined and applied properly, can vacuum away any amount of fat from almost anyone.

    • lurker November 15, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

      yes congrats and good luck. I recommend an hour long bike ride every day unless you have much better knees than I do and can run etc…..just use the easier gears as you get into shape and bike hard enough to sweat a lot….it has worked for me but over a longer period….year and a half.

  10. Pam November 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Looking forward to following your progress! I recently publicly stated two goals on my blog: 1-run a 1:45 half marathon (this is a 5 minute improvement over my previous best time, and I’ve been running for years, so this is a lofty goal) and 2- to blog about it daily for 45 days.

    I am proud to say I did both!! I totally believe in the power of making it public to keep yourself accountable.

    Good for you. Side bonus: you may inspire others! But you know that, you’re MMM.

  11. Mrs. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    MMM – Great picture of you and Coach D! :)

    rjack – I love that chart you linked to. I’ve seen it before. I’m very light, so I often feel like I lift a lot less than most of my crossfit compadres. It’s nice to put it in perspective like this.

    My goal is to hit all the “Advanced” standards from that chart for my bodyweight by March. I’ve had this goal for a while, but I seem to just keep lifting the same amount and not really progressing very much. I’m between Intermediate and Advanced right now, so it should be do-able.

    It’s great to hear everyone’s goals – very inspiring! Keep them coming!

    • rjack November 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      I’m glad you like it! I think it is all about strength-to-body-weight ratio as opposed to absolute strength. If you are in the intermediate or above range, you are VERY strong.

      For those of you that are older, here are age-adjusted strength standards:

      http://lonkilgore.com/freebies/freebies.html

      The bench press link is broken, but here is the correct link:

      http://www.lonkilgore.com/freebies/bench_standards_pounds_small.pdf

      • PawPrint November 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

        LOL! I’m right on target with the pull-up standard for my age–zero. But I can do a lot more sit-ups than the standard, and I can do at least two push-ups so I’m feeling pretty strong. :-) Thanks for the link.

      • YAR November 13, 2012 at 5:32 am #

        Thanks so much for those links! I recently started lifting again after a long layoff (read, since collegiate rugby days). Having an age adjusted standard to shoot for is great!

      • Gavin November 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

        http://www.strstd.com/

        I think this strength standard website is easier to use than the exrx one, plus you get a visual representative of where you are.

        • Mrs. Money Mustache November 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

          This is awesome Gavin! Thanks!! Looks like my squat is already “advanced”, so that’s one down. :) The 5/3/1 routine is pretty cool too.

      • TomTX November 17, 2012 at 7:21 am #

        Okay, I only need to wait less than a year to be 15% closer to those lifting standards! :D

    • Geek November 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      Mrs. MM I have to say… you are a lucky lady. ;)

  12. Joe November 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    I work on a site that helps you make goals public and then track them:

    http://www.43things.com

    Hope it’s useful to you and your readers!

  13. Andrej November 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    While I do applaud your dedication, I think you should steel be “keepin` it real”.
    Let`s be honest, while many fitness products promise gains such as you have posted for your goal, in reality it is a great achiement if you gain 20 lbs of pure muscle mass in a year, and for those gains you not only have to have near perfect training and nutrition, but also very good genetics. Everything else is either phony or using steroids. We are of course talking about pure muscle mass, it is very easy to gain fat or water mass.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

      I checked around as part of setting this goal, including asking the Crossfit trainers if it is realistic. From what I can tell, 20 pounds is a good goal in my situation. I’ve already been bigger than that in the past, which seems to correlate with faster re-gaining. I have expert trainers and motivators to help. And I have done a good 22 years of weight training in the past, so I know what works and what doesn’t.

      Tim Ferriss did a 30-pound composition change in only a month or two as documented in the four-hour body. I learned a few of his tricks and have been able to apply them in the past.

      So in this experiment, we will be putting everything together for a big challenge. I’m not saying it will be easy.. but it is definitely possible!

      • Erica / Northwest Edible Life November 13, 2012 at 10:14 am #

        I am sure you can gain 20# in your timeframe, and I’m pretty sure you can gain 20# of muscle, but how are you calibrating? 20# of muscle gain may be 25# or 27# of scale gain.

      • Gavin November 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

        I believe you can do it, and I also believe you will rocket past your squat and deadlift goals as well.

  14. Matt F November 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I think announcing your goal matters if you announce it to people who will take you to task on slacking, and if you respect the opinion of the people you announce it to (so that you listen when they take you to task/encourage you). You need some kind of motivation to hit a goal, and external motivation works for lots of people.

    That external motivation can be positive, (facepunches always seem optimistically positive when coming from MMM, or a respected friend encouraging you to do something) or negative (think football coach screaming at his players and calling them failures).

    I think the MMM community would give both types of reinforcement, as we can support and encourage with updates on the progress (forum topic anybody?) and it also provides a little bit of negative fear based reinforcement for MMM as he has a reputation for succeeding and does not want to disappoint his readership (as someone mentioned above).

    My goal is to ride my bike to work at least 2 days a week (10.9 miles each way) for the rest of 2012 and getting up to 3 days per week starting in 2013. I am in the forum on the nov challenge to help keep me motivated already but more motivation never hurt anybody!

  15. Jarvis November 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I plan to Clean & Jerk at least 250lbs by Mar. 21, 2013. Planning to film and share it as well!

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Wow! That is an impressive lift and I like your goal!

      I’ll film my successful record lifts too, so there will be no cheating on my report :-)

  16. Anthony N. November 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I read an interesting idea for motivation: Reflect your goals in your passwords.

    If you log in to your blog with a password like Gain20#Muscle every day, it will help you keep it on your mind. Similarly, your online banking could be something like Retire@35!

    I have yet to try this, but I like the idea and will put it into play as I’m forced to update passwords or create new ones.

    • 205guy November 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      Second this. I’ve been doing it for several years now and just realized the 2 goals I had in passwords have been met–the second one just recently. I actually had a choice to do several things, but said to myself: “I’ve been typing that in my password for so long, just do it now.” Time to change passwords for my new goals.

  17. kopda November 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    9% bodyfat is really low, you sure you’re that low if you haven’t been working out much?

    This is 8-9%: http://s11.postimage.org/670i8bbvn/attachment.jpg

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

      That looks about right.. I didn’t express it quite clearly in the article, but over the last few months I have still been lifting about 3 times a week. But they have been short, not-all-that-heavy or intense sessions. Plus the biking and construction work. So I have been shrinking. But the diet is the real thing that made the fat go away – it turned out that all the smooth material covering the abdomen muscles in the past wasn’t fat, it was slices of bread! :-)

      • Mike November 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

        Did you happen to post your new diet and I missed it? Do tell MMM as I am newish to the blog and am thinking of starting some fitness goals myself

  18. EnergyConsultant November 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I think it’s good to share goals.
    Problem is, if you hold me to it, I am going to sandbag them ;-) Maybe I have worked with corporations for too long

    Anyway, since we are talking about fitness, I will stay within that. For me:

    - Stop eating junk / grazing. I am active, so that should result in reduced bodyfat. I am shooting for losing 20 pounds (I am currently 195 and est. 20-22% bodyfat, should eventually be around 175 and 12%ish). As far as timeframe, you mentioned March 21st, but I don’t want to lose too fast, since I am looking for long-term improvement, not a quick diet. Maybe 1 lb/wk (that would be 18 lbs to March 21)?
    - Be able to run 7 miles at 8 min/mile. I can currently do 9 min/mile. I also bike and swim, so an additional goal is to do a triathlon before the Summer

  19. Mrs. Herb November 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    My goal is to keep posting at least 3 posts a week on my fun side project, my food blog. It’s been interesting and enjoyable for the most part, but sometimes I lack the motivation I need. Here’s my commitment to continue posting at least 3 posts a week throughout 2013!

  20. Pauline November 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Nothing like public accountability to help you keep your goals. My main goal is to make back the money I invested in a land by this time next year, by selling some parcels, and still keep part of the land to build a house for myself!

  21. Merissa November 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    I’m with you Mr.MMM. On March 21st, 2012 I will weigh 150lbs. Check up on me and I’ll check up on you!

  22. JR November 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    MMM is Morgan Spurlock?

  23. Joy Host November 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Six-and-a-half months into an 18-month debt paydown extravaganza. To be specific, pay off $32000 of debt in 18 months on a teacher’s $45,000 salary.

    So far, I have rid myself of $10,000 by moving into a smaller place closer to work and other commitments, and working 2-3 extra part-time jobs, among other things.

    Nearer term, I am running a 5K next week and a half-marathon in the spring, but still need something to kick my butt as far as fitness. I gave up the gym as I am in “debt emergency” mode, but find running outside something I evidently stink at, despite initial evidence to the contrary.

    Part of the problem is I am pretty fit and know I can do the 5K without too much prep, but have still put on the five pounds I lost when I first moved and got the gym membership for $25/month within walking distance as a treat last summer for working and moving, etc. I loved it.

    Ideas?

  24. Melissa November 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    2013 brings many new goals for me:

    By the new year I plan on having my website up and running for my business (MMM, I will be sedning you an email later for assistance)

    I hope to PR at the indoor rowing regional championship in Pittsburgh in January. If I reach that goal I should place in the top 12 at the World Championship in Boston in February.

    I plan on holding at least one speed camp for middle and high school students, and one fitness camp for adults this summer.

  25. Becky November 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Here’s my serious goal: bike to work every day this winter. I live in Minneapolis, where it gets a little chilly, but I’m going to find inner stores of badassity that would otherwise never be discovered!

  26. matty_whoops November 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    march 21st i will weigh.seventy four kilograms currenrly 81.

    and have a better job.

  27. Mr. Frugal Toque November 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Another good thing to do, in the same vein, is make a loud announcement in your workplace.
    Something to effect of:
    “I don’t eat doughnuts! My body is a Temple!”
    Be really obnoxious about it, too.
    That way, if doughnut day ever comes around and you partake, your colleagues are going to crucify you.
    But really, I’m just stalling while I think of a good goal for Mar 21, a day presumably chosen because of its astronomical significance.

  28. G.E. Miller November 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Lifting really heavy weights to avoid injury? Isn’t that kind of like repeatedly punching yourself in the nuts so that the next time you accidentally take a nut shot it doesn’t hurt as bad? It might actually work, but the training is significantly more likely to inflict the nut damage that you are trying to avoid from a rare step on a rake or neighbor kid going Ultimate Warrior on your junk.

    Now, having your nuts look great at 1080p to millions?….. that’s worth a few shots to the loins.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      It’s true, GE! Lifting heavy things (i.e. weight training) regularly prevents injury.. in fact, in the long run I’d say it’s the BEST way to keep your body from messing itself up in old age. But that doesn’t mean walking into a gym and immediately trying to pick up the heaviest thing in there. There’s a whole systematic process of building up your strength over time. You should look into it – I hear you’re not really in your 20s anymore, despite the name of your blog :-)

      • Fastbodyblast November 13, 2012 at 6:59 am #

        I work as an Osteopath in Australia dealing with injured bodies every day and can absolutely confirm that the people who recover from injury the fastest and are generally the most injury resistant are those that regularly weight train.

        Maintaining muscle mass and mobility actually gets more important as we age, not less.

        Going for a new max lift is definitely fun (even if a perverse kind of fun) however in my experience the best way to become injury resistant is by balancing out muscle groups. Compound (multi-joint) lifts like those chosen by MMM are a great start.

        Good luck MMM.

      • Matt November 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

        Near the back of Mark Rippetoe’s “Practical Programming for Strength Training”, there’s a picture of a 70-year old man (sorry, I forgot his name) deadlifting 400 lbs.

        That picture really made an impression on me, and is really my main goal in strength training: to preserve my quality of life as long as possible. We can make a number of assumptions about the 70 year old who can pull 400 pounds off the floor: he doesn’t need a walker; doesn’t need someone to help him on/off the toilet; has preserved enough mobility and balance to reduce his chance of a fall; and if he does fall, he’s less likely to get hurt (or at least recover more quickly); probably keeps a healthy appetite; sleeps better than his peers; has no trouble holding his grandchildren…

    • Gavin November 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

      G.E

      Weightlifting is one of the safest sports in the world. Why? Because it is completely scalable. Progress is incremental and controlled by the coach or athlete. The most dangerous sports in the world are soccer and cheerleading. You cannot control the force of someone running towards you try to kick a ball out from under your legs. .

      “Lifting really heavy weights to avoid injury? Isn’t that kind of like repeatedly punching yourself in the nuts so that the next time you accidentally take a nut shot it doesn’t hurt as bad?”

      What you have described there is Seyle’s General Adaptation Syndrome, and it is actually how the body responds to stress.

      “Seyle proposed that all organisms mount an acute response, then a chronic adaptation after surviving exposure to stress. The final adaptation enables the organism to tolerate a subsequent and more intensely stressful exposure to the same type of stress – a physiological expression of Nietzche’s popular quote” – Fit, Kilgore, Hartman, Lascek

      The quote they are referrring to is – That which does not kill us makes us stronger. This is how anyone gets stronger, more muscular, fitter, faster etc…

      Finally, isn’t it common sense that if MMM can deadlift 350lbs, that carrying a 25lb paint tin around is going to be less troublesome? Less likely to cause injury?

  29. traineeinvestor November 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    It’s already on my blog – quit my job and retire in mid 2013.

    Formal resignation will be given in late March.

  30. JaneMD November 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    In addition to your new fit plan to build muscle, it might be worth while to see a physical therapist who will isolate the motion/muscle that you are doing that is aggrevating your back pain. It will probably just take one visit to determine where the trouble spot is and you can incorporate that into your fitness routine.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      Actually, I seem to be feeling much better already. That first training day was November 5th, so as of yesterday I was three workouts in to the program (took me a while to getting around to writing and publishing this post).

      I think the sensitive back was caused by too much sitting down and computing/not enough strength training. For me, getting proper exercise always seems to fix everything (then I curse at myself for ever letting it slip in the first place!)

      • JaneMD November 13, 2012 at 6:43 am #

        I don’t disagree with that; I meant it more as a general thing to be cognizant what muscle issues you tend toward – we all have them. My husband has an extra spine curvature and slouches alot. I have neck pain from playing on the floor with my kids. Physical therapists are way better at identifying and giving advice on muscle stuff than most doctors.

        I have a physical therapy neighbor that we have a good information exchange. She asks me the current benadryl dosage and recommendations and I ask her about my aches and pains.Once I point to the trouble spot, she usually says ‘Oh, that the X muscle and you must have been doing Y motion. Do this stretch and this exercise. The better way to do that activity that hurt you before is Z.’

      • ael November 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

        My wife is a physical therapist and I could not second the doc’s advice more. I personally spend about 2 minutes most mornings doing a couple Williams flexion exercises before getting out of bed. No back pains when I have been doing them regularly. (70 y.o.)

  31. Atma Singh November 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    I’ve been meaning to start a blog that combines my major passions – photography, writing, poetry, frugality, nature, science etc. I think I have some great ideas re: creating a committed online community and hopefully, long-term, perhaps trying to turn it into a source of income…perhaps even my main one…on my long road to financial independence.

    Please check-up on me :-)

  32. Jennifer November 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    My family has a 5-year plan for paying off our $300,000 of student loans. We want to pay off our credit card debt and the first student loan (10.45% interest rate) by next November, 2013. Hardest part seems to be the “waiting” – seems like these kinds of goals take forever and I can’t get motivated or excited because there’s no pay-off. Motivation has been tough lately….

    • Craig November 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      A word of encouragement, Jennifer. I had $185,000 in student loans staring me in the face not too long ago and I know the difficulty of getting motivated to tackle such a large goal. Initially it feels like throwing pennies into a bottomless well. What I found useful was setting up a plan of attack, putting it in motion, and then forgetting about it. Mine was a set amount from every paycheck that went to the loan as well as all windfalls (tax refunds etc).

      The hardest part was not dwelling on it but rather ignoring it and just enjoying life in spite of the debt. Worrying does not make it disappear faster anyway so enjoy life now as well as when you are gloriously debt free. Really the only difference between now and 5 years from now is the direction of the deposits (your savings account versus the lenders account). If you maintain a similar standard of living today (conservative and modest) as when the debt is gone then you should be able to see that you are not really waiting for anything (and wasting precious life thinking it will be so different and better when X happens). That is what I have found most useful from this website…..I am not saving now just so I can be a bigger consumer later, but rather to be financially independent while setting an example for my kids as to how to live comfortably without obliterating the earths finite resources (and mine). Best of luck and hope that helps!

      Ps. It took me 4.5 years to pay off my student loan and I made a lot of dumb financial mistakes during that time which prolonged the payoff. Unfortunately MMM was not around back then to offer face punches :) You can do it!

    • Sasha November 14, 2012 at 8:19 am #

      I find long term goals like that frustrating as well…a small thing that makes a big difference in my motivation is making a graph!

      It sounds silly, but I update the spreadsheet every time I make a payment, and watch the line move a little lower. I have two lines: One for planned payoffs, and one for actual….

      So it’s almost a competition with myself: I planned to pay off $400, can I find another $50 to throw at that debt as well? Every time the “actual” line on the graph shows that I’m closer to being debt-free than I planned, it feels like a small win. :)

  33. Trevor November 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Good luck MMM!

    Just wanted to add an acronym that we use with our students. In January I always get them to write SMART goals instead of resolutions.

    Specific
    Measurable
    Attainable
    Realistic
    Timely

    The reason that most people don’t reach their goals, and specifically New Year’s Resolutions is they’re too vague, or can’t be measured, or don’t have a due date. I’ve tried this technique and it’s way more effective.

    MMM, your goals get the SMART goal seal of approval!

  34. Ross November 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    My goal is to do 20 pull-ups. I’ve never done more than 12 but I’m up for a challenge. My friend and I have had this bet that if I get to 20 pull-ups before she gets to 10, she has to buy me frozen custard. March 21 2013 seems like a great target date!

  35. Tony November 12, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    2 months ago, I never ran, couldn’t swim, and didn’t own a bike.

    On June 1st, 2013, I will run a sprint triathlon (800 meter swim, 15 mile bike, 5 mile run)

    Enough said. This is happening!!

  36. Dexter Wolf November 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    I love this! I’m an avid reader and peach fuzz mustachian, but I’m also a strength coach and personal trainer by trade.

    Your goals are absolutely attainable, and I hope you are detailed as possible with your programming (maybe some videos of your training as well?). You will crush it no doubt!

  37. Posted On November 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    My goal is to bench press my body weight in one set of 5 lifts. Ideally, I want to bench press my body weight in three sets of five, but that is a stretch goal. I plan to accomplish this by working out AND losing weight. Early projections showed I would be able to reach my goal at 165 lbs. that means I need to lose another 5 lbs, and increase my bench press by 30 lbs. Perhaps I will need to keep losing weight until I can bench press whatever I weigh at the time. So, while I have no fixed date to reach this goal, it is my goal.

  38. Rainerd November 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    I set my goal to have a stable weight of less than 190 pounds by March 21, 2013. Along the way, I will complete a ski marathon (the Birkebeiner) in February. But the real goal is to lose weight.

    I’ve been quite active over the past few years, but i can’t seem to get the weight off. Now is the time. I’ve got a exercise plan in place for the next two months, I’ve got a supportive partner, and I’m going to do it.

  39. nomoreuntdebt November 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    To be debt free by April 2014. Just completed month six and we’re well on our way.

    Blogging about it has really helped keep us accountable.

  40. A frugal Scandinavian November 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Solve 100 Project Euler problems (http://projecteuler.net/) by March 21st.

  41. TommyTivo November 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    My goal through March 21st, 2013 is to bike to work/school in the balmy winters of Fargo, ND, 2-3x/wk. I know this is more attainable once I return to Minneapolis after grad school since the winters are not as blistery!

    Also as a reference point, you may wanna check out the U.S. military’s physical fitness scoring standard, based on number of push-ups and sit-up in 2 minutes, and a 2-mile run. http://www.apft-standards.com/

    Good luck to everyone!

    • Mrs. Money Mustache November 13, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      This is really interesting! Thanks for the link. So, how many points are required in total in order to pass?

      • Robbie November 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

        The test is out of 300 points, with maxing being 72 pushups, 78 situps, and a 13:00 2-mile run for a 17-21 year old. 270 is considered a decent score with some Army units averaging much lower.

        Source:
        West Point cadet and aspiring mustachian

      • TommyTivo November 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

        @Mrs. MM
        In order to pass the physical fitness test, the participant needs to score a minimum of 60 points (points ranges from 0-100) in each of the three events, based on categories of gender and age.
        The overall minimum score to pass ranges from 180-300. In addition, if participants score 270 or more (with a minimum of 90 in each event), they will be awarded a “physical fitness excellence” badge. The APFT scores also converts to promotion points used in part to determine the eligibility to move into a higher rank.
        So, where do other MMM readers rank/score? Perhaps while we are training to be financially fit, we’ll also train to be physically fit as well.

      • Mike November 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

        For the APFT, you must score a minimum of 180, but you also have to pass each event with a minimum of 60. If you didn’t pass you got to do it again a week or two later, rinse and repeat until you did…

  42. Steve Pawson November 12, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    Great idea to make your goal public MMM. We have a friend who does something similar but its a combination of small and large goals. She has set-up a list of things to do during the year. So for her 30th birthday she published a list of 30 things to do that year. When 31 there were 31 items on the list and it goes on. The lists includes a variety of things from, finish my PhD thesis this year, to visit all 13 of New Zealand’s national parks that year. It is a mix of indoor, outdoor, physical and crafty things. A great way to get you inspired to tick of some things every year. She has the list published on her Facebook page as a note that can be shared publicly on her profile. So far this year she has knocked off 18 of her 32 items. Thought I would share in case it inspired others.

  43. kyle November 13, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    My goal is to pay off my $100,000 in student loans in 3 years. Minimum payment will be about $1100, but if I can throw $3100 at them I should be able to do it. They are at 6.8 and 7.9%, so I’ll throw extra at the higher ones first.

    • Dillon November 13, 2012 at 8:48 am #

      Link them to your debit card or bank account and they’ll become 6.55 and 7.65%.

  44. Ga mama November 13, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    100 pushups (bent knee). I am using the 100 pushup website, so by march I would like to be onto straight legged pushups.

  45. Matt L November 13, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    You have an impressive bench press already, given your current weight. While the bench press works the glamor muscles up top, you should really focus on getting serious about the other 2 — deadlift and squat. To put on 20 lb of muscle in 6 months (tough, but not impossible), I would really focus your efforts around those 2 exercises primarily, especially since they are fairly lame right now. You should shoot for 2x bodyweight in squats and 2.5x in deadlifts. Again, tough but not out of reach, especially with “beginner” gains that you’ll probably get not having done those in some time.

    I started 2012 at 1x bodyweight squats, 1.25x bodyweight deadlifts and 0.8x benchpress (all 1×5). Despite a couple of injuries, I’ve hit my goals of 1.5x squats, 1.75x deadlifts and 1x benchpress, and am off to a new program to continue to build. I’m a 34 YO skinny guy with no prior WT experience, so I think I’ve still got a long ways to go (I’ve put on about 10 lb of pretty much muscle this year – bodyfat remained btw 11-12% all year). Good luck!

    • Erica / Northwest Edible Life November 13, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Yay Deadlifts! Let me say it again: Yay Deadlifts! “It’s very hard to imagine a more useful application of strength than picking heavy shit up off the ground.” -m.r.

  46. Done by Forty November 13, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    I love this post, MMM. For us extroverts, it’s helpful to leverage our mind’s tendency to “think about what others think”.

  47. Joe @ Retire By 40 November 13, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Making your goals public is huge. Stating my goals and keep track of it on my blog really helped me achieve them. I started making New Year Resolutions again and I’m doing all right with them. Keeping track of the goals is probably the most important aspect.
    I don’t think you need to gain much weight. I think it’s much better to be skinny than buff. Your current weight is your natural weight and if you gain 20 pounds, you’ll need a lot of time to maintain it. Anyway, good luck.

    • Erica / Northwest Edible Life November 13, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      Pshaw. Sorry Joe, totally disagree. Why is his current weight his “natural weight” any more than his totally different weight 2 years ago was his natural weight?

      This would all be much simpler if people stopped fucking talking about weight and focused on workload capacity. MMMs workload capacity has gone down. In his words, he’s gotten weaker. That, for him, is a problem. He wants to increase it. That is good. It’s his goal.

      Bring pounds into it and we’re suddenly into body image territory and everyone has a subjective opinion. You might like skinny more than buff. I, personally, do not. I am not a fan of that “distance runner” look on guys, but why should that matter to someone whose performance goal is to run a pb ultramarathon?

      • Gavin November 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

        Erica, you are completely right. There is not a single situation that I can think of where being weaker would be better than being strong. We live in a physical world.

        • Erica / Northwest Edible Life November 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

          I can think of situations – say, being chased by a large predator animal – where being fast would be preferable to being strong, but yeah, I agree with you on weak v. strong. I know I’m obnoxiously over-quoting him, but I suspect you will like this: “Strength is the most general adaptation. It is acquired most effectively through exercises that produce the most force against external resistance, and as such is always best trained with five or six basic exercises. The same exercises that are correct for weak football players and lifters are correct for weak volleyball and baseball players, because the best way to get strong will always be the same. Strength is NOT specific, and cannot effectively be acquired through exercises that mimic sports-specific movements, because these movements lack the potential to produce as much force as general barbell exercises, and therefore lack the capacity to make weak athletes as strong as barbell training.” – Mark Rippetoe

          • Gavin November 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

            I do like it :) however, a stronger person will be faster as well. This is why sprinters lift weights.

            • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies November 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

              Completely agree – The stronger your abs, core, and back, the more effortless running becomes – and speed follows.

            • Erica / Northwest Edible Life November 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

              And why elite sprinters are hotter than elite marathoners. ;)

              But actually, pursuing maximum strength will give you a very different physique than pursuing maximum speed over distance (something longer than a 100 meter sprint but shorter than a marathon, say…maybe that difficult 1 mile distance). Stripping away waste “fat” and even, at longer distances, waste muscle, is going to be much more important in running than in strength building. Some of the most freakishly strong, athletic people (thinking of the super and heavyweight oly lifters here) can look downright chubby. Although they are incredible athletes, with strength and flexibility and body control that is second to none, I am skeptical that that phenotype could, without additional training, outrun the proverbial lion.

  48. Erica / Northwest Edible Life November 13, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Public, private, whatever. To me the key has always been to Write It Down. For me, introvert that I am, that’s the kind of accountability that works for me. I also have learned that there is a big difference between having an end-goal and having a plan to actually get there. I talked about this last month here: 6 Simple Steps To A Life-Changing Financial Goal

  49. Mrs EconoWiser November 13, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    My goal is to be pregnant by March 31st next year. However, I won’t be needing your help with that Mr. MM! ;-)

    Other than that our goal is to have paid off one third of our mortgage by the end of 2013. By that time our mortgage will be almost four years old so having paid off a third by then would be awesome and rather Mustachian?!

  50. Brian November 13, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Has anyone used http://www.stickk.com for setting a goal? You put money down, choose a judge for your goal, and the money will goto an organization/charity you dislike if you don’t meet your goal.

  51. Llama November 13, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    My goals:

    Get the website off the ground! To do this, I need to learn how to make one. So that’s 2 in 1.
    Ride my bike in to work twice a week! I haven’t in months, and for no good reason.
    Get a new job! I have no reason to still be working in this dungeon. I feel like I’ve actually gotten dumber in the last year or 2. I certainly haven’t learned any new skills lately.
    Finish all of the half- and 3/4- done projects taking up space in the house and garage. This needs to happen by Dec 31. And the nearly refinished table in the garage needs to be done by Sunday! Why has it taken me 2 months to slap a second coat of varnish on the damned thing?

    I’m excited. Let’s get shit done!

  52. George November 13, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    MMM, Congratulations on your possible TV deal!

    Hopefully, you can cite the readership on this blog as evidence to a potential television show producer that there is a public interest and demand for your advice.

    Working out definitely will help you as well because most entertainment companies want people who are in shape on their stations.

    Who knows maybe TV will be the next chapter in your career.

  53. superbien November 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I have 4 goals, split between finances and body:
    1) To pay off the last $1,000 of debt in the next 2 months
    2) To build back up my emergency fund to 6 months worth
    3) To work with a therapist on toxic body image messages I carry inside my head, and AFTER that
    4) Get to a healthier weight/size

  54. EngGirl November 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    I’m going to start running again on December 1st (pending physiotherapist approval). I’m an avid runner, but I had to take a little hiatus – while biking to work on September 27th I got hit by a car (he was turning right on a red and apparently didn’t see me in my flourescent clothing). The only thing that I’ve been able to do for exercise since then is physio exercises, swimming, and some mild yoga. My challenge is to push myself to run (which is hard, because my knee is still sore and I have put on some weight due to inactivity), but not push myself hard enough to prolong recovery. A chance to increase my mental strength as well as my physical strength! By March 21st I want to be back at my usual 5 days a week run schedule.

  55. Joel November 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    “a … bicycle crash can be … a comical bouncing experience for the amusement of your friends, with appropriate physical conditioning.”

    Oh I’ve done that one before!

  56. hands2work November 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    I’ll set two as well MMM, but mine are separate. I would like to lose 30 pounds (although my goal is by May, so I won’t be quite there yet. AND I want to get my banjo out of the closet and actually learn to play it. There I said it. Now I just wish I could come jam with you in Longmont!

  57. Gavin November 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    My strength goals for 2013 are to Squat 400lbs x 5, Deadlift 485 x 5, Bench Press 300 x 5 and over head press 220 x 5. My immediate goal, however, is to drop my weight from 97kg to 89.9kg by the 20th of January. I am posting update pictures on my site which is a big motivator. If I don’t hit my goals, pictures of a fat dude, and record of my failure will be cached by google for all eternity.

  58. addieforshort November 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    I just started making my goal (losing 30 lbs before I turn 30) public. I’ve been telling anyone who offers me junk food, sweets, etc that I “have goals”. I started October 25, and so far I’ve lost almost 10 lbs.

    Here’s to public goals!

  59. Samantha November 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    I am going to have paid down half of my mortgage by the end of March 2013.

    Announcing it doesn’t really change anything for me – I am on a plan and this is the projection if all goes well AND I get a little overtime.

    I would also like to lose 15 lbs, but I’m not as committed to that goal as the mortgage goal.

  60. Nathan November 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    All right, I’m in. I will do a one-arm chin-up by March 21, 2013, from a dead hang. I could do one starting with a bent arm in college, but that was 15 years ago. Never done one from a dead hang.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Now there’s a neat physical goal. I’ve always wanted to do this as well – I wonder how many standard pull-ups are roughly equal, strength-wise, to a single-arm pull-up? I guess they are different goals, but you could train for both by doing pullups with increasingly heavy backpacks full of barbell plates. And some negatives with the individual arms. Hmmmm..

      • Nathan November 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

        Yep, those are the two main training exercises I have in mind. I’ll also want to strengthen forearms and core. I don’t know much muscle physiology, but I figure I need to work on power over endurance–that is to say that perhaps even very high reps wouldn’t equate to the power needed for even a single one-arm. But that’s just speculation. I need to do some reading. And working out. …I just read that 2-3 reps of regular pull-ups with 2/3 additional body weight strapped on is a good sign you’re close. Kids, grab a leg!

  61. Kathleen @ Frugal Portland November 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    One pull up by the end of this year — I better get on it!

  62. Phil November 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    Bring It On!!!

    My Goal is to drop 25kg (55 pounds to you!) by 1 March, get me back to my fighting fit weight. It’s time to do this!

  63. Heidi November 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    I’m picking up P90X, and I’m going to finish it. I’m not going to set any specific fitness goals, I’m just going to finish it. I’m going to try to do the diet regimen, too, but that will be the cheese on the burger. And if in the end I fit into my jeans a little better and I’m able to do 50 push-ups in under a minute, well…that will be the bacon on the deluxe.

    I’ll be blogging about it, too…that’s my accountability partner right there.

    • Danny November 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      I’m doing P90X for the same reason. Got to day 42 the first time and unfortunately wasn’t able to finish. Anyway, just finished day 3. Wish you the best of luck getting through it all!

  64. Ottawa November 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Alright – I’m in! I want to be able to build some extreme endurance onto my normal strength routine. So, in addition to my normal workouts I want to build myself up to 100 consecutive (proper form) push ups by a February 1st deadline! I tested myself today and was able to squeak out 25. I can do it!

    • Ottawa January 31, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

      I didn’t do it! I completed my ‘final’ test today following 10 weeks of hard work. I was able to achieve 57 consecutive pushups. This represents a 228% increase. I’m a fairly consistent lifter of weights and was a little concerned during this challenge that my strength would decrease; especially since I dropped the weights altogether about 4 weeks in when it became clear that the pushup routine required significant recovery in and of themselves!

      Surprisingly, this turned out to be totally false! I tried some incline and flat dumbell pressing exercises today and found I was about the same strength-wise only better! Better insofar as I had exhibited ‘super human’ recovery between heavy sets. Thus, the endurance/strength training transfer associated with pushups has really been positive! I also noticed that I lost 4.5 pounds and bodyfat went from 10.1% to 9.3%! While the overall results are certainly not bad, I will continue with this challenge until I achieve the goal of 100 consecutive pushups.

  65. pathdoc November 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Alright I’m in too!

    Although I’ve been close before, I’ve never had a low enough body fat percentage to ever see my abs.

    Wouldn’t it be great for one to actually know what his or her own abs look like? Are they symmetrical (like Brad Pitt)? Or are they offset (like Mario Lopez)? I want to know!

    I’m 38 years old with a sedentary desk job, currently at 15-20% body fat, judging by the pictures you linked to above at builtlean.com. By March 21st, 2013, I’ll send you a pic of my abs, and you can judge whether they fall within the 8-10% body fat range (abs easily visible). Good luck to us all!

  66. snacks November 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    I’m also in! My goals are to:

    1) get rid of 500 more things (which should take the fam. to well over 1,000 items donated or sold since summer)

    and

    2) start a blog

    Thanks for the motivation and inspiration!!

  67. Jessica November 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    I started working towards my goal three weeks ago and *should* accomplish it before your date but the holidays will be challenging but I’m pretty good at setting and meeting goals. I started at 171.5 lbs and looking to be 145. I’m currently 163 so 8.5 lbs down, 18 lbs to go!

  68. Jake Hess November 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    I am looking to pedal my way from 180 to 160 by 3-21-13. I suppose I need a scale…Its on, Lets do this

  69. G.B. @ In Budgets We Trust November 13, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    I want to complete the 100-pushup-challenge. I even have a free app on my phone that walks me through the training regimen, but I always drop off around week 2. I’ve also started experiencing a lot of back pain (from poor posture and too much sitting) and I think the core strengthening benefits of pushups could help… with the added bonus of giving me super sexy triceps for my wedding day ;)

    the pushup regimen is here: http://hundredpushups.com/#sthash.mbXrYgJg.dpbs

  70. Joakim November 14, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    My goal is that by that date to have completed an extra math class on top of the other classes i will be doing

  71. James @ Free in Ten Years November 14, 2012 at 4:10 am #

    Awesome goal. I have to say that my man-crush on you will be significantly larger if you add 20 pounds of muscle to your frame. This also reminds me that I desperately need to get back on the fitness wagon.

  72. bcg150 November 14, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    I will throw my hat in the ring as well. I just recently purchased a bicycle and have been partaking in the bicycle month challenges in the forums but I will set a goal to go along with this thread. On March 21st 2013 I will have ridden my bike for a total of 304 miles. This will translate into 4 days a week of commuting to work. If something keeps me from riding during the week then I will have to do some pleasure riding on the weekend to hit my goals.

  73. Jordan November 14, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    I want to lose 2 inches off my waist by March 21. I’m good on the exercise front but need to watch what I eat.

  74. Statistical Deviant November 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Great post MMM!
    I was having troubling getting started on exactly this. My goal is to reduce body fat to 10% but the end of the year.

    I put on too much body fat after my previous exams…

    Will post up current measurements as soon as I do them.

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