I took a piece of paper off the wall the other day. It’s one I kept tacked up next to the squat rack in the basement and when I moved the rack recently, I noticed it hanging there. It’s a scribbled list of some of the goals that evolved and were achieved over the course of last year. I had pinned on the wall in the basement where I would see it daily, but few others ever would. I almost threw it out, but something stopped me. Still not quite sure why, but I kept the paper. Maybe it was proof of something to myself or maybe it was a lesson in what can be done in a year. I’m not really certain. But some of the goals that I set for myself in 2015, at varying points, made me think  more seriously about 2016.

After Nationals, I felt a little lost, a state I’ve come to realize is pretty normal for me after a competition. I had a plan in mind for the couple of weeks following that basically involved giving me some time to get moving in the gym in a relaxed sort of way and adjust to what I anticipated at the time (but turned out not to be) a new coaching situation. My intention was to do things I didn’t usually do, move in some different ways and give my mind a chance to process what had gone on and where I wanted to go next in terms of goals. But as for the precise goals themselves… I really wasn’t sure.

Sometimes the results you get engender a natural progression in numbers. You hit a 182 deadlift? Well, 185 and 190 are the next logical goals, right? Sometimes a technical issue entails quite naturally working on technique and fixing something as the next logical step. It all seems pretty evident when you put it on paper and as a working plan, the logical inference does quite nicely. Pick your next numbers, devise a plan, and start working towards them. Sometimes it works that way. And sometimes you want more. Or different.

There is one thing that I have learned from all of this slinging around of vast amounts of weight. Having both a solid goal and coherent plan are critical, but the harder* something is to achieve, the more you also have to want it with every fibre of your soul in a way that makes your heart weep to think about not achieving. This level of passion is a risk and you have to be ready to assume the potential heartbreak that goes with it.  In order to accomplish something difficult, whatever that is for you, you have to want it thoroughly. You have to reach the point of thinking, “Okay. Yes. That’s what I truly want and I am going to get it. This is what it will cost me? These are my challenges? Okay. I acknowledge and accept the price I’ll have to pay. Let’s do this.”

If you have reached that tipping point, you won’t be daunted by any failure, you’ll simply see obstacles as problems that need tackling and you will find a way through. Sure, you’ll mess up, have low days, fall down and have to stand again, but you’ll get through. I didn’t feel that drive after Nationals. I felt sort of hollow, but I told myself that I was tired and needed to recover mentally and emotionally. I decided to relax my hold on any ambition for a month or so, keep moving, and wait, that it would come back. And over the past week or two, it has.

There’s a new piece of paper now, with some nice goals on it. Many are quite realistic. A couple are probably ambitious. One is pretty out there, but I figure that one is not so much a matter of whether I’ll hit it, but when. I give myself leeway to add to the list as the year goes on. All of them are badly wanted. All of them I am willing to sweat blood for. All of them mean something personal to me in different ways. And none of them has anything to do with any person, their performance, or results, but me.

Okay. I acknowledge and accept the price I have to pay for these goals. Let’s do this.

*“Harder” sometimes has to do with numbers on the bar, but sometimes it just has to do with what is difficult for you personally. For some people, sticking to a nutrition plan is harder than picking up 300lbs. For others, dragging their bodies into the gym for a pounding day after day is harder than eating on track.


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