Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Defining Goals which are As Difficult as Possible
Written By : Scott Bird
Scott Andrew Bird.

Yep, that’s me.

We’re currently scheduling a Gymchat Roundtable on the Measuring, Monitoring and Definition of Goals. We’ll be talking about it in a strength-training context of course, but the same general approach applies to anything.

If you’d like to join everyone on the panel, just drop Josh a line. We’ll take the first 10.

In the meantime, here’s part of my own approach – the setting of new goals. Typically when tackling a new record for an existing skill (say, a deadlift number I’m looking to hit in training).
I use my existing PR as a starting point, so I have a general idea of what a good number is (for my current skill level, environment, equipment etc). Then – and this is the point where my approach differs from the advice I commonly hear – I think about lifting that amount on a perfect day. When I’ve slept really well, the background music ‘works‘; everything just feels right.
More importantly, all of the external factors on that ‘perfect day‘ (the noise from next door, that situation that’s been on my mind) seem to go in my favour. Everything lets up for a few minutes, and I pull a new PR.
My new goal? That PR. The one I just set on that imaginary perfect day. When everything just seemed to go ‘right‘.
In short, when I define a new goal – for lifting, or anything at all – I make sure it’s almost out of reach. As difficult as possible.
That means that most of the time, I’ll fail. Even when I focus, and am absolutely determined to succeed. Fail.
But on that rare occasion when I actually achieve it – when everything goes ‘right‘ – it’s an incredible feeling. A leaping in the air, shouting obscenities, running around the room feeling. A beautiful thing.

Over to you. The above approach works (and extremely well – been using it for years), and is one I’d highly recommend.
Still, I’m keen to hear what your own approach is like. Join us for the Gymchat, and leave a comment below. How do you define your own goals?

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via X (Formerly Twitter), Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.