Thursday, January 12, 2012
The Short Term Key
Short term goals are some of my best friends, and through writing this article I hope they become some of yours as well. These little goals are not only easy to think about, but are easily achievable! That's right, they're goals that you have a very good chance of achieving quite quickly. Ahhh, doesn't that sound nice? Accomplishment. Love that feeling.
And conveniently, they're probably the best stepping stone to that long term goal looming dramatically over your noggin, constantly in your thoughts, keeping you awake at night (muahahahaha....).
But seriously, consider the short term goal your sword, to slay that giant beast. The bat, to knock down that wavering pinata. The axe, to hack at that massively daunting oak. You get the idea.
First, let's define what a short term goal means in OUR situations (at the gym, of course). They can easily be applied to lifting weights, cardio, flexibility training, even diet! And the best part is, they keep you on track, keep you coming back for more day in and day out. And probably their most important job is to keep you feeling good, accomplished, and satisfied. Let's find out how to start setting some short term goals, shall we?
What can you do now? This statement is purposely quite general. What are your current strengths, skills, flexibility, calorie/nutrient consumption, etc. How do you stack up? Maybe you bench 190lbs for 4 reps. Maybe you can jump on a 36" box 5 times in 8 seconds. Maybe you eat 2500 calories a day and want to lose 3 lbs. You're only going to know where you stand if you make an effort to record these type of things! Write them down! Put them on a note in your ipod (I have one on my iphone entitled "Current PR's"! Make a voice recording! I don't care which, just make sure you record your abilities, because if you don't I can almost guarantee you won't make progress (or nearly as much as you could.)
How do you feel? This one's a little bit harder to fathom, but not too hard to grasp if you really put some thought into it. After you did those 4 reps of 190lbs on the bench press, how did you feel? Were they extraordinarily easy? If that's the case, why the heck did you stop? Were they super duper hard? Was it your MAX? How about that diet? If you're eating 2400 calories, how full do you feel throughout the day? Are you starving? Bloated? Tired? MAKE NOTES OF THESE THINGS AS WELL. These feelings are important in order to set short term goals effectively.
What's your long term goal? Remember what I said in my New Year's resolution article? Set a long term goal that's challenging. Make yourself work, reach, exert near maximum effort as often as you can while avoiding injury. How do you plan to impress your friends (and more importantly, yourself), if you don't have to power yourself to a higher, fantastic level? Be ambitious. Record a goal for yourself that you can be seriously proud of when you complete. Write it down, and PUT IT WHERE YOU CAN CONSTANTLY SEE IT. You need constant reminders to be successful. It's human nature.
Now, set your first short term goal! You've got all the factors in place to be able to set your first short term goal. Now keep in mind, there's still an art to this. Don't make it an immediate short term goal. At the earliest, make it for tomorrow. For the beginner, I'd suggest either weekly, or bi-weekly goals. Monthly is a little lengthy, and gets to be vague. Let's look at the examples above, and set some goals for those people:
If you bench 190lbs for 4 reps now, how about 195lbs for 4 reps next week? Easy enough to do, eat right and get proper recovery, and you'll be there in no time.
Do you run for 10 minutes now at 7.0 miles an hour? Aim for an extra minute next week, at maybe 7.2 miles per hour. Or better yet, add another thirty seconds every two or three days. Maybe only 15 seconds! How easy is that?
How about the diet one. If you consume 2400 calories now, and feel hungry, replace 200 calories of a guilty "snack" food (like Tostitos) with 100 calories of some sort of bean salad, or a handful of peanuts. Simple!
And the great part about short term goals is that they ADD UP QUICKLY. It's easy to look at a short term goal and scoff, thinking the whole time about "so what if I squat 5 lbs more than last week." It's 5 little pounds! But if you could do that all year (which would be extremely difficult, but isn't unachievable,) you'd be squatting over 250lbs more than you did at the beginning of the year! WOW!
But what if you fail? Don't sweat it! If we all hit every one of our goals every single time, we'd all be Olympic champions! Recover, recuperate, regroup, re-motivate, and try again in a day, or two, or a week. Don't lollygag, but don't rush into it. It's really like walking a tight rope. Push yourself, but on a consistent and realistic basis.
Finally, let's cover the topic you're all probably considering. What if you don't set any short term goals? Well, everybody works their own way, but you have no idea how many people I see go into the gym and do the same exercises every day, doing the same number of push-ups, same number of squats with the same weight, and same amount of time on the treadmill. They don't have goals, they just want to say they go to the gym, and convince themselves that's all that matters. Blahhh...boring...and believe me they won't get far.
How about those who have the big goal in mind, but no little ones? Well, I've heard a lot of people say they want to bench 350, but don't go about getting there with any sort of routine or consistency. They're dumb about it. And what happens? They get sidetracked, tired, burned out, and inevitably...FAIL. Sure, there are exceptions, but in my opinion those exceptions are few and far between.
So that's the scoop. Short term goals are what bring the big, crazy goals into perspective. They're stepping stones across the huge waving river (there I go with the analogies again...). Set them, and start seeing that sweet, sweet progress.
Keep setting goals. Keep breaking records. You'll be surprised at how far you'll get. Good Luck!