Originally from Clonakilty, Colin Murphy is a fitness professional, workout specialist, founder of the fitness website properlybuilt.com, certified personal trainer, author and blogger. He is an Ironman, sub 3-hour marathon runner, occasional CrossFitter and all-round fitness fanatic.
It’s just a few days into January and the word ‘Goals’ is ringing around my head. I can’t go online or walk down the street without somehow hearing about goal setting for the millionth time. Everyone has an opinion about what we should be doing at this time of year and are furiously trying to let us know that they have the answers. But the truth is, they don’t. Not a person in this world can truly advise us about our life without first getting to know us. They need to understand where we have come from and what we value for our future.
The Gurus just love this time of year. They finally get to spout out all their knowledge about how things are done to get the best results. For most of us, who have been around this world for more than twenty years, it all gets stale and discouraging very fast. In the fitness space, trainers are crawling over each other to write the first blog post of the year on their 2017 goals. They can keep their goals because they are theirs, not ours. In a way they have dirtied the word. It has been reduced to a trendy buzzword that makes the gurus millions, from us following their goal plans and seminars. I simply get turned off now when I hear it.
The truth is we all know what to do. We are focusing on the wrong thing. It’s ‘how’ to do it is the challenge. Figuring out what we want to do has never been a problem for anyone with an imagination. I can write a list of ten goals right now based on what I think I want to have in my life. As always the contemplation and thoughts are the easy part, the treasure is to be found in the doing. Too many of us feel the disappointment of failure when that goal just isn’t coming our way. It’s more helpful to put a plan together about how we are going to achieve what we want, based on the context of our own lives. They have to fit. If you want to get up at 5.30am every morning to meditate before work, then that has to line up with the time you can realistically get to bed at night.
Do you know how many lists of goals will be put together this week and then left in a drawer for the rest of the year? I grimace at the thought, but I expect it will be an awful lot. The real effort shouldn’t be put into building the list. The effort should be put into building our consistency muscle for the year ahead, whether that be by going off coffee for a day, drinking a two litre bottle of water daily, or stretching for five minutes every morning before work. We all have top class list building skills but a rather out of shape consistency muscle. If we can’t stick to something small for a week, then that six-month goal is dead and buried before we even start.
Maybe talking about our ambition, and not goals, is a more successful route to take. The word ambition comes from Latin and means ‘the desire for honour and power’. What power do you want to add to your life? This suggests there is work involved, as power has to be developed. This may lead to a much healthier vision for what is needed to achieve a big change in our lives.
When we really break things down, to achieve success, a good starting point is to just have the ambition to be better than you were yesterday. If you do this one thing, then amazing results will start to show. It’s about pushing yourself to make simple daily progress that will beat the all-out burst every time. Those people that are quick out of the blocks now and are exercising at a ferocious pace will quickly run out of steam.
Just ask the tortoise. That hare got easily side tracked while the tortoise just kept relentlessly and consistently ploughing along. Every time I read that story the tortoise wins…absolutely every time! Forget the gurus. Be the boring successful tortoise, and leave the flashy fast paced hares to crash and burn, as you consistently stride forward. A hardworking ambitious man or woman will always beat an inconsistent drifter with a wad full of goals in their pocket.