Earlier today I took some progress photos, as is normal for a competitor to do along the way to a contest. The point of the photos is not only to measure how far you have left to go, but also to show you how far you’ve come. Today when I looked at these photos, I remarked that in the past two years I have made the improvements that I had hoped to achieve. But someone else had to point out to me what I had overlooked: while I did see the progress and was proud of my achievement, I had failed to notice that it took me TWO YEARS to accomplish this. TWO YEARS of tenacity, hard work, and dedication. It didn’t feel like work, it didn’t feel like two years, and I didn’t even notice that I was getting anywhere. I simply looked up, two years later, and realized what I had done. And I had failed to recognize that what was more important than the result was just the sheer fact that I had kept at it for so long!
I realized that if, during those two years, I had watched the scale and the mirror intent on seeing the result I was searching for, I would have missed it anyway. I might have even gotten frustrated and given up. After all, I wasn’t hoping to grow five inches or gain ten pounds of muscle—what I wanted was much more subtle than that. Who wants to watch paint dry? Instead, I took on this goal knowing that the improvements would happen over a long term, and I trusted that it would happen if I diligently pursued it.
What’s your goal? Are you trying to “get healthy” but you don’t know how or even what that means? Are you trying to lose weight? Gain muscle? Get stronger or more confident? Are you in pursuit of a degree that feels light years away, or are your career goals progressing more slowly than you had hoped? Bodybuilding has given me a pretty solid five step plan for achieving a long-term goal. Check it out:
- Set the goal. Don’t get caught up too much in defining it, because it will shift and define itself as you get closer.
- Determine a plan of action. If you were lost in the woods, you could simply choose a direction, but you don’t necessarily have to know all the details of the terrain you’re about to face. You can cross the bridges when you come to them.
- Get off to a start in the right direction.
- Stop thinking about the goal. Who wants to watch paint dry?
- Just keep swimming. Dense as she was, Dorey knew a thing or two about how to move forward, didn’t she?