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 realty getting anywhere. My workouts had no intensity and I had no drive or desire. Take my word for it, not having a goel 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.
The same can be said for an athlete. 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, 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 to pursuit of the kind of things he previously avoided. 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. Unlike Tyson, once you meet your initial goal, don't stop there. 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.
Here are some suggestions that will help you develop a systematic goal oriented program:
First, set goals that are realistic and flexible. Don't set goals so impossibly high that you ensure failure. For example, don't set a goal of a 300 Ibs. bench press at the end of a 16-week cycle if your present best is only 200 Ibs. Your chances of accomplishing a goal like that are practically nil. Likewise, don't try to squat 1000 Ibs. if your best is 500Ibs., 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.
Another good idea is to develop a hierarchy of goals. Put each goal in writing. An effective and systematic way to develop your goal hierarchy is to establish primary, secondary and long-range goals. Long range goals are accomplished over a longer time span, say six months or more; secondary goals are of shorter duration, such as a week; primary goals are daily goals. Primary goals should lead to secondary goals and these in turn should lead to long-range goals. For example, let's say that your long range goal is to increase your bench press by 20 pounds in an eight week cycle. This would be to increase your bench by five pounds every two weeks. Your primary goal would then be a weekly training regimen that would eventually lead to a five-pound increment by the end of every second week. 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 behavior 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,
Dr. Judd Biasiotto