I recently got to know a woman who is very much like me in many ways. She is goal oriented and driven in most aspects of life. But she is clueless when it comes to eating and exercise. She goes to the gym and puts in the time but does not see the results. She exercises, rather than trains. And there is a huge difference between the two.
Folks who exercise often do not get results because even they do not know what the goals are. What exactly does it mean to get in shape? Or to become more fit? They describe their workout in a similar manner. They talk about how much time they spent at the gym, or maybe some very rough description of what they did like I walked for a while on the treadmill then I did some weights.
Achieving your goals starts with setting the correct goals. There is probably no goal more difficult to achieve than the goal of simply looking good with your shirt off or in a bikini. There is no definitive end point when you can say yes, I did it. And there are no performance markers along the way that let you know you’re moving in the right direction. To be successful you have to set performance goals that are easily definable and that can be very accurately measured. Accurately enough that you can see even very small changes that take place over an extended time.
For my friend that I spoke about earlier, the woman who “exercises” most evening, I would love to tell her to stop exercising and start training. Pick one or two performance goals and go after those goals like you were an athlete. Two goals that would be great for a woman who want to be in better shape would be to back squat 135 pounds for a set of 5 and to do a 2k in under 10 minutes. If she achieved both of these goals the side effect would be far more in terms of health or just being in “good shape” than anything she would ever have achieved just going to the gym and exercising. One of the reasons is that as soon as you start to focus on concrete goals, you just naturally move away from toxic dietary habits like skipping breakfast or lunch. Because the consequences move from hazy consequence like “it’s not healthy” to a very real and immediate like, if I don’t get some food down I am going to absolutely die on my 2k tonight, or if I don’t eat I have no chance to get that set of 5 with 100 pounds that I have planned tonight.
And that might be the real secret. Concrete performance goals make for concrete performance failures. And no one wants to fail.