By Judd Biasiotto Ph.D.
I believe another important aspect of being a successful person is having a systematic goal oriented program. Goals are the seeds to success. Without a goal or a mission in life, there is no sense of purpose in life. Successful people know exactly what they want and exactly how to get what they want. The first step in every successful adventure is to determine your objective. It is virtually impossible to achieve anything of true significance unless your thoughts and desires are linked to a purpose. Success is seldom achieved by chance. If you have no idea where you are going in life how can you expect to get there. Goals give you a starting place and a destination. The process is very clear. You conceive an idea, you believe in that idea, and then you achieve it.
I think those of us who are actively involved in sports know, perhaps more than anybody else, how important it is to find purpose, to maintain that purpose, and to be able to work and strive to fulfill it. For In reality, without purpose we are limited. Consequently, I believe that it is in man's best interest not to be dissatisfied but to always be unsatisfied. Once you are satisfied you have reached a cumulative point in life, inertia will breed and the next thing you know you'll be on the backslide. When you have no purpose in life there is nothing to look forward to, nothing to strive for Iife becomes dull and uneventful. With purpose, life is exciting; the world is beautiful.
I remember in 1983 when I first retired from powerlifting, I more or less lost direction as an athlete. I would still go to the gym to work out, but my heart wasn't in it. I didn't have any clear-cut goal or purpose for training. Consequently, I stumbled through my workouts, never really knowing where I was going and never really getting anywhere. My workouts had no intensity and I had no drive or desire. Take my word for it, not having a goal is the worst thing that can happen to an athlete or anyone else for that matter. Goals are essential to success. Without goals there is no direction, no hope, no growth. Every human being must have a purpose in his life Just to stay alive.
Without a purpose or an objective, an athlete is, figuratively speaking, dead. When you set a goal and channel your energies toward that goal, you can tap the reservoir of power within you much easier. Without a goal in life, you cannot grow; you can't really live. Man, by his very nature, is a goal striving being. Thus, true success and happiness can only be achieved when he is functioning as he was made to function - as a goal-striver. We are built to conquer, built to achieve goals. Without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve we will never find true satisfaction in our life. When we have no goals to strive for, no meaning in what we are doing, we are apt to flounder around, finding life purposeless. In order to be great you have to have a purpose. You have to have something ahead of you to look forward to and to hope for. When you lose purpose in what you're doing, you're lost.
I believe this was never more evident than with Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion of the world. When Tyson first turned pro his goal was to become the greatest heavyweight champion ever. That goal was extremely important to Tyson. In fact, that's the only thing he ever talked about, or for that matter, ever thought about. It was his sole purpose in life. That one goal kept Tyson on track. He sacrificed everything for it. He didn't drink, he didn't date, and he wouldn't even leave his training camp. All he did was train. He was totally driven toward achieving his goal. In the ring he was relentless - a madman. He would beat his opponents from one end of the ring to the other. Some of the beatings he dished out were merciless.
When he claimed the Heavyweight Championship of the World at the age of twenty-one he was already considered by most boxing experts as the greatest heavyweight of all time. He was considered invincible - unbeatable. However, rather than looking to future improvement and growth, he began to think more about immediate gratification. When he got to the top, he felt like there was nowhere else to go, and he began to look backwards instead of forwards. He was on the defensive, defending his present position, rather than acting like a goal-striver and going on the offensive to attain new goals. He started going out nights, drinking and chasing women. He also slacked off on his training. He lost the purpose in what he was doing and in so doing he lost himself. And then do you know what happened? I'm sure you remember; an average fighter named Buster Douglas knocked him out. It was the greatest upset in the history of boxing. When Douglas was interviewed after the fight, do you know what he said?
"My sole purpose in life these last six months was to beat Tyson. That's all I thought about. He was the first thing on my mind when I would wake up in the morning and the last thing on my mind when I went to bed. When I'd fall asleep I would dream about beating him. If there was anything else going on in the world the last six months I didn't know about it, because my mind had just one thing on it - beating Tyson."
Is that incredible, or what? Of course, goals are not just visions. They are visions that are acted upon. There is a major difference between a vision and goal. A vision is a vague flight of fancy that we hope comes to pass. Goals have direction and purpose. They give us a destination in life.
You know it's kind of interesting that when people find out that I'm a writer many of them will tell me that one of their goals in life is to write a book. That is a great aspiration, but it is not a goal per se. It's too broad of an objective, consequently it gives the individual limited direction. The human mind will only gravitate toward a specific aim; it will not move in the direction of generality. The idea of writing a book is wonderful aspiration, but it is an objective that has to be accompanied by specific goals, deadlines and a strong work ethic. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.
A couple of years ago Novagenics publishing company asked me if I would be willing to write a Sports Psychology textbook for them. Of course, I immediately wanted to know how many pages they wanted, and how much time they would give me to complete the project. They said that they needed a book that was approximately four hundred pages and they would give me two and a half years to complete the project. To which I responded, "Damn!”
Let's be honest - four hundred pages is a lot of writing, even for a professional writer. In fact, it was kind of overwhelming at first especially considering the fact that I only had two and a half years to finish it. After I thought about it for a while though I realized that it really wasn't that tough an assignment.
Here is what I did. I took that long-range goal of four hundred pages and broke it down to a series of secondary and/or weekly goals. My secondary goals consisted of writing seven pages a week. Now that's not exactly a walk in the park either. I'll give my students a seven-page paper to write and it will take them the entire quarter to do it and when they hand it in it looks like James Michener wrote it. And most likely he did because they probably copied it right out of his book. So seven written pages are not all that easy. What l did next was to take the secondary goals and break them down to primary or daily goals. As you probably have already guessed, my primary goal was to write one page a day. Now one page a day is not all that tough. It takes me about an hour or two to accomplish that. One page a day is something I knew I could handle fairly easy with a little work and determination. In fact anyone with a little desire can do that. Once I set my goals down, I only focused on my primary goal. I never worried about my secondary or long-range goals because I knew that if I took care of my primary goals, my secondary and long range goals would take care of themselves. And that is the way it all worked out. At the end of a week I would have seven pages and at the end of a year I had close to 365 pages. At the end of two years... well, I didn't have to work that long before I had the book completed. I took a project that looked overwhelming and through a systematic, goal oriented approach made it rather easy to achieve.
Actually, l do the same thing with every goal I have. I break every one of my long-range goals down into primary goals and then I focus strictly on those daily goals. When I attempted to become the first ADFPA lifter in my weight class to break the 550 pound barrier in the squat, that is exactly what I did. If you think writing four hundred pages in two years is tough, think about squatting 550 pounds at a bodyweight of 132 pounds. Let me put that lift into perspective for you. When I squatted that weight, the world record was 535 pounds, and the average ADFPA lifter in my weight class was only squatting 355 pounds.
The best squat in the world that year (up to that time) was just 487 pounds. At the time, everyone in the sport of powerlifting said that the 550 pound barrier was beyond the physiological limits of a drug-free athlete at my weight. They said such a lift was impossible. In all candor, l wasn't sure if the lift was possible. Once I set the goal of breaking the 550 pound barrier, l determined, with the help of a lot of other people, what I had to do each day to reach that goal. After that was determined I never worried about that 550 pounds. I just focused on what I had to do each day, because I was confident that if I achieved my daily goals when it came time I'd have a real good shot at the 550 pounds. If I would have worried about squatting that 550 pounds every day it would have been overwhelming for me. I probably would have psyched myself out. The way it was, l never thought about it much until it was time to do it.
One achieved goal should inspire you to see and set even higher goals. Every positive outcome that we experience is an ultimate triumph for what we have worked so hard to achieve and will create yet another inner driving ambition for what we have yet to do. Once we are truly able to believe in ourselves, our goals, and our inner ability - the sky's the limit.
With the aforementioned in mind, here are just a few suggestions that you may want to follow when establishing your goals. Set goals that are realistic end flexible. Don't set goals so impossibly high that you ensure failure. For example, don't set a goal of a 300 lb. bench press at the end of a 16 week cycle if your present best is only 200 lbs. your chances of accomplishing a goal like that are practically nil. Likewise don't try to squat 1000 lbs if your best is 500 Ibs. Unless you're trying to kill yourself. Goals that are totally unrealistic will only lead to frustration and failure.
In the same light, don't set your goals too low. For instance, an increment of 20 pounds in the squat over an eight-month period may not challenge your full potential. In short, keep your goals just out of reach, not out of sight.
Also, don't expect immediate results and don't get discouraged. Understand that Eddie Coan wasn't built in a day. Chances are you won't be either. Be patient and persistent. Remember that in sports, as in life, it's not what you start with, but rather what you end up with that's important.
Remember you must be systematic about goals. Write them down under the appropriate heading and check them off as you accomplish them. This will not only serve as reminder of your daily routine, but it will also shape your attitude by reinforcing small bits of behavior.
Often the achievement of your goals will include a number of other considerations. On the sheet listing your goals, add a column that outlines all obstacles associated with that goal. These obstacles may include physical weaknesses, time restrictions, coaching or knowledge you must obtain, or monetary constraints. After you have identified the obstacles to each goal, identify the people who can help you. This list may include family, coaches, training partners or experts, such as psychologists or nutritionists. Along these lines, save room for another column that identifies training aids, supplements equipment, or knowledge that you need to succeed.
Having outlined this information, you can now construct a game plan that will help you to deal with obstacles effectively. The idea is to devise a systematic approach to reach your goals in the most economical and efficient way. With game plan in hand, all that's now required is action on your part. Remember, merely writing a goal down does not guarantee that you will achieve it. As mentioned, goals are more than just visions. They are visions being acted upon.
Yours in strength,