Goals, Goals and, More Goals

I am sure you have come across the expression ‘it’s the journey that counts, not the destination’? Well, if you haven’t, don’t worry, because by the end of this article, you will understand why it’s a great expression to live by as a weightlifter. There are a few very good reasons why I always keep this expression in my head: so that I don’t forget why I am a weightlifter, why I pursue it and what I hope to achieve from it. If I didn’t have this expression as a guide, my weightlifting path would probably take a turn for the worst.

Sounds pretty serious? It depends. Weightlifting can bring us so many benefits. But it can also have a dark side. It’s this dark side you want to avoid. If you don’t, it can lead to a downward spiral that can be difficult to escape. Still not quite sure what I mean by this? Then keep reading.

The Bright Side Of Weightlifting

When you start weightlifting, you probably have a few goals in mind:

Get stronger

Get bigger,

Improve body composition,

Fit into clothes better,

To feel more confident with yourself 

Be more functional outside of the gym.

Lots of great benefits! If you want to achieve these goals, then it’s no surprise that it’s going to take lots of motivation, dedication, perseverance and continual learning. As with everything in life, you get out, what you put in. In weightlifting, it’s no different. If you put 100% into your weightlifting endeavors, you will reap the benefits.

However, you need to remember, that you are human. That means, when you achieve something, you feel good about it. You feel motivated and you want to keep going. Simply put, you will not feel satisfied if you stop now, you must keep going. Onto the next goal! This all seems positive. You are meeting/exceeding your goals and everything is falling into place.

The problem is, at this point, you are probably only thinking about ‘that next goal’ rather than ‘how am I going to get there’. For instance, you wanted to get bigger. So you have hit a specific bodyweight (say 75kg). But now, you want to get even bigger. So you have a new bodyweight as your new goal (say 79kg). Or, you wanted to get stronger. You hit a 400lb deadlift, now you want 500lb. Don’t forget! You are human; you crave that new goal and will do everything to achieve it.

Whilst at first sight, none of this seems inherently bad. You set goals, you achieve them and you move forward with these new goals. The road however can start to get a bit ‘rocky’ if you, let’s say, fixate yourself on wanting to achieve hard-defined goals. Why? Well, a hard-defined goal basically says ‘I have GOT to achieve that’. It’s buried deep in your head. If you don’t, you become:

Disappointed,

Disillusioned,

Stressed-out

Possibly become desperate 

You might start taking shortcuts or desperate measures

In short, you begin to lose sight on why you started weightlifting in the first place. Meet the dark side of weightlifting.

The Dark Side Of Weightlifting

I am not saying setting goals are wrong. But, goals should be set in ways that work to foster a long-term healthy relationship with something. If you make weightlifting an important, long-term part of your life, then it needs to be healthy and sustainable. This also means, making goals that encourage this.

If you are pursuing weightlifting because you want to gain long-term gains in size and strength, then the goals you make, should pave the way for a long-term journey, not a nearby destination.

You could think of your goals for size and strength like this: my goal is to get stronger and bigger over the long-term. Yes, these goals sound a little boring and well, not very sophisticated at all. But, that is the beauty of setting goals like this! The goals are simple. There are no numbers and, there are no specific time periods. There is no expiration date, so ultimately, there’s no pressure! Over the long-term means exactly that, the long-term. How are you going to plan your weightlifting over the long-term? You certainly can’t do that with shortcuts or quick fixes! The magic then is, you are less likely to see weightlifting as a short-term pursuit.

This means that you have to find ways of pursuing weightlifting that are desirable in the long run. Your focus then becomes the journey and you become less concerned with the actual final destination.

Ok, so what if, all my weightlifting goals are hard defined? I have a fixed target in my head. Well, if weightlifting for you is a long-term pursuit, then hard defined goals are likely to work against this.

Hard-defined goals, I think, foster a more shot-term way of thinking. This makes you plan everything (usually your entire life!) around that goal.

For instance, many of you have probably had a goal of something along the lines of: ‘I want to lose 20kg in 4 months’. It’s a goal, and it gives you something to work towards. That’s great. The problem is, you become fixated on this short 4-month time period and this weight loss target. My question to you is, if you are making weightlifting an integral, long-term healthy part of your life, why are you setting goals that demand the complete opposite? Anyways, you say to yourself, right, for the next 4 months it’s full out strict with everything, including lots of cardio, lots of gym sessions and, lots of hunger. Why such drastic measures? Simple – you are goal driven. You have to achieve this goal otherwise you will beat yourself up with disappointment! Once you have reached this goal, then what do you do? Make more drastic changes? Another hard-defined target characterized by more stringent measures?

Although your goal has given you direction, it’s made you pursue weightlifting in every way EXCEPT healthy and sustainable. You are no longer thinking about the journey there, you just become fixated on the end result.

If your goal was something like this: ‘I want to work on losing weight until I feel comfortable with myself’. This in my eyes is much better. It’s simple. With a goal like this, you are more inclined to think over the longer-term and thus implement weightlifting strategies that are best suited to achieving this. The good thing is, you will still loose weight over the next 4 months, but in a much more sustainable and effective way and without the pressure to try and meet defined targets.

Thinking Differently About Goals

Most people will tell you that goals should be specific and measurable. Also, you should be making these goals regularly. That’s the current way of thinking. Honestly, I don’t like this approach. Specifically, when it comes to weightlifting. Although it’s good to make goals throughout your weightlifting career. It helps to keep you on the weightlifting path.

These goals should encourage you to think about and pursue weightlifting in a healthy, sustainable long-term manner.

That’s the best way for your body, and your sanity! If you approach weightlifting this way, its less likely going to negatively impact other areas of your life.

From my experience, goals that are too specific and demand a time frame, cause people sometimes to take their weightlifting to extreme, obsessed and sometimes dangerous levels. Weightlifting no longer becomes a healthy pursuit, but a life interfering obsession. If you are in this for the long run and you want weightlifting to enhance your life (not control or dictate it), then you need to start setting goals that encourage this. Defining your goals through hard targets and deadlines will more than likely, drag you down a path of quick fixes, harsh measures, desperation and unhealthy habits. Everything I DON’T want your weightlifting to become.

This might surprise you, but when I set weightlifting goals, I make them as broadly defined and simple as possible. This way, there is less pressure on my mind. I say to myself, right, I am now going to work on gaining size. No numbers, no time lines, no dates. Simple. I don’t get stressed thinking about an end number. I just think about how I am going to plan my weightlifting to get actually get bigger. The journey. Not the destination.


If you have any questions about the article or would like to discuss further some of the topics mentioned, then please feel free to leave comments down below. How has weightlifting impacted your life?