“Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity.” – Will Smith
That’s a strong statement from Mr. Smith and one I agree with wholeheartedly. Setting realistic goals goes hand in hand with the “Everything in moderation” statement. It’s just a dumb line that’s been mindlessly repeated without much thought to the implications. Realistic goals mean you don’t have to change much, it’s all about what you can fit in to your day, every little bit counts (unless all you do is a little bit), you don’t have to work too hard, you don’t have to be uncomfortable. The result? Sweet fuck-all happens.
When you try to make changes while staying in your comfort zone you fail!
I truly feel your utmost goal must be as UNrealistic as possible. Here’s why: Realistic goals are based in logic. Yet the things about you that truly make yourself YOU aren’t logical. It’s the things we’re passionate about. Things like dance, art, music & even sports are passions to people. There is no ‘why’ to your favorite song or piece of art; it just moves you. You can’t logically explain why it does, so you don’t try to – it’s enough just to feel that way. That combination of passion, emotional attachment and excitement is what most of us live for. That’s what really gets us out of bed every day.
So let’s go back to setting a realistic goal. Say you want to lose 5 pounds. Very realistic, but you have 50 pounds to lose. I have no idea how you or anyone else would even notice if you’ve lost 5 pounds, let alone get excited about it, yet totally logical and doable. I’s also the most common goal people fail at… the small ones. There’s no real reward for the goal, no passion or excitement and ZERO impact on your life. That’s why it usually fails or in the very least the 5 pounds comes right back and sometimes more. Without rewards a small goal can lead to a big failure over time.
I say if you have 50 pounds to lose, make 50 pounds your goal! You may have never done it before, it make no sense to even dream it but you know this is a goal that would change not only your life & lifestyle but it would change you. Once that goal is achieved the rewards are truly unlimited, some 17 years after losing 120 pounds myself, I still see how that goal continues to impact my life and my choices.
Here’s the other edge of that sword. How do you achieve an unrealistic goal? This is when you bring back the logic and planning. Now instead of making 5 pounds to lose a goal, it’s merely a step on your way to the unrealistic goal. It keeps you focused and gives you ‘wins’ along the way. I have my clients take monthly photos as progress reports, they again, see the wins even when they haven’t yet made it to the ‘after’ photo. Those ‘wins’ & progress photos make that unrealistic goal more realistic every month, your thought process changes and you go from hoping it’s working to knowing its working.
If you’ve noticed a common theme in these tips so far its this: Personal accountability is not optional, it’s essential. I beat this drum constantly because it’s the foundation to any change in your life. All my clients who failed in their goal skipped this, instead trying to rely on working out and eating better. I have people constantly telling me their goals and fitness plans, once people know what I do it’s just something people want to talk about. In those conversations I know within the first five minutes who will or won’t achieve their goals. (Closely correlated with the number of excuses I hear about why they haven’t reached their goal yet). Once you’ve become accountable to how you arrived at your starting line, you’re then empowered to make the changes to get to your finish line.
I’ve used this method many times in my life, starting with my first day or running in ’93 (Damn I’m getting old! If I weren’t so damned handsome, I’d be depressed!) I went on my first run that dark night, dressed in black (so no one would make fun of the fat guy running) I was so out of shape I got sick after one block and almost passed out right on top of it. Everything in my head told me to go home, I was too far gone. Then the ‘epiphany’ came. Run one more block tomorrow and keep doing that until you can run a marathon. The logical made it sound possible but the marathon ‘dream’ was the reason I went back out the next day. I needed the passion to execute the plan.Completely by accident, I set an unrealistic goal and a logical thought process to achieve it. It took three years but I ran the Seattle Marathon in November of ’96, 120 pounds lighter, from 297 to 180 pounds.
The rewards initially are obvious, I lost 120 pounds! But the real rewards kept appearing later on – I found purpose in my life, I learned to coach others turning the 120 pounds I lost to a far more impressive 4,000 pounds of fat lost collectively by my clients. I’ve met and become friends with so many incredible people as a result of that original goal. If I had set a ‘realistic’ goal and settled for that, none of this would have happened. So from the bottom of my heart and with love in that heart; FUCK ‘realistic’ goals! You’ll thank me later.