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28 December 2010

Get Your Fucking Head Right, Part Four: Goals Are For Soccer Players and Other Small Children

In a previous blog, I posted a quote from the seminal grindhouse film Planet Terror, in which a retardedly hot, pole-dancing, ass-kicking, peg-legged Rose McGowan stated that "goals become the thing you talk about, rather than the thing you do."  That's a fairly accurate summation of my opinion of goals with regard to weightlifting (an life in general), and I thus view the myriad posted goals on Bodyspace and similar sites just as I do a wheezing, sweaty, pre-diabetic, allegedly human mass of fat cells with eyeballs purchasing a supersize meal at McDonalds with a Diet Coke- they're laughable and pathetic.
Arild Haugen pities a fool.

Why?

Because most lifters will abandon lifting inside a year, and the vast majority of the rest will bag their goals in addition to whatever vogue program led to their creation long before they reach the ridiculous and hyper-accurate goals they've set for themselves, due to anything ranging from apathy to injury to outright sloth.  Think I'm bullshitting?  Consider this: gyms with contracts have them because they know, for a certainty, that roughly 75% of the members who sign up at a gym will quit going within 3 months.  The dropout rate for lifting makes South Central LA's public school systems look like bastions of excellence and efficiency.  As such, most lifters might as well keep their bullshit and usually disgraceful goals to themselves, consigning themselves to (at most) writing them in a journal they can consult when looking for a reason to open a vein while listing to This Mortal Coil's "It'll End In Tears" album while pounding Double Doubles in their parents basement.
This chick used to be a Suicide Girl... and then decided to hit KFC rather than the gym a few too many times.

Putting aside the obvious pointlessness of most goal setting with respect to lifting, the issue generally lies with the fact that most people set goals far beneath their actual capabilities.  Though one's initial inclination might be to consider this a good thing ("but, then you're always a winner!"), upon reconsideration you'll find this logic to be just about as sound as that with led batshit-crazy evil scientists to create the EATR battle robots.  In case you're unaware, the EATR robot is a heavily armed autonomous metal killing machine designed around a biomass engine that can convert copses into energy to continue their automated killing sprees.  Granted, robots that consume human flesh like bullet spitting whirlwinds of zombie death are a far worse idea than setting goals beneath one's potential, but setting pissant goals that prevent you from reaching greatness still might garner you some sort of conciliatory medal in the World Championships of Suck.  They'll prevent you from reaching greater goals due to the fact that humans have been conclusively shown to adjust their performance to their goals, motivating or demotivating themselves in according with perceived difficulty.  I can attest to the veracity of this claim, due to the fact that I managed to pull down a D and a B in Astronomy and Collegiate Algebra as a senior in college, in spite of the fact that I took both classes in the 8th grade.  Because they were pointless exercises in wasting my fucking time with shit I'd learned in middle school, I expended no effort whatsoever in those classes, and only avoided failing the Astronomy class by scoring perfect on the two tests.  As I'd never been to class otherwise, I'd never collected the syllabus and never learned that a college class had fucking homework, as if I'd suddenly become a fourth grader.
Cleanse.

Were you to lack the experience I've had, you might be tempted to set those kinds of goals... especially when you're surrounded by monuments to mediocrity erected by people entirely bereft of pride all over the internet. If you allow these idiots, who've posted their unbelievably embarrassing numbers online in a multitude of places, to program your subconscious into believing that those number are what you're likely to reach, you're fucked.  Their Facebox updates and forum signatures are the internet's equivalent of the Persian assault on the Greeks at Thermopylae.  They're repetitive, toothless, and generally fucking sad, but the sheer weight of numbers can leave you well and truly fucked if you're unprepared to deal with them.  Just as those hapless turbaned were driven onto the spear points of the Spartans by the swords of their officers and covered the Grecian landscape like locusts, so do the ambassadors of suck online.  Thus, it's important that you look to more inspirational sources and leave those idiots to their discussion of which brand of sock/briefs/shoes/supplements might pus them to a 400 lb shitfest of a back squat.  This is especially important at night, when the defenses your conscious mind erects to outside influence on your subconscience are at their weakest. (Van Fleet 54-55)
If only they were online posters... one can dream.

So, what should you do?  Aim for the fucking stars!  It might seem like some hokey bullshit, but it works.  As I've stated before, all it takes is one person to show that something's possible, and you're primed for success. Priming your brain with the knowledge that an achievement is doable turns your subconscious into an irrepressible, cold, calculating smashing machine hell-bent on victory.  Another tidbit with which you can program the T-1000 your subconscious has become is the fact that the "closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role of innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play."(Gladwell 38)  Researchers have found that neither the people like the nerdy slacker in Roadtrip, nor the stereotypical, nose-to-the-grindstone, generally unintelligent, but well meaning pseudo-nerd in popular culture ever reaches an elite status in their respective fields... instead, it's the average person who busts their fucking ass inside out at whatever they're doing who kicks ass all over the fucking place in anything ranging from playing the violin to chess to computer programming.  (Gladwell 38-40)  That's the fucking secret- keeping your mouth shut and busting your ass inside out.  Posting bullshit on some forum about your plans is pointless- in fact, it's worse that fucking pointless.  Instead, you have to actually do the thing you've planned in your head, and keep your goals to your fucking self.

How much harder do you have to work?  Researchers have determine that the magic number for hours at a given activity to become elite is 10,000.  That's right- you have to spend ten thousand hours at lifting if you want to truly be elite.  In one study in Berlin, they broke down the levels of skill into hours spent at it, and it worked almost invariably:

Elite: ~10,000 hours
Good: ~8,000 hours
Future teachers: ~4,000 hours
Amateurs: ~2,000 hours

I guess you better turn off your fucking computer and go lift something, shouldn't you?

Sources:
Gladwell, Malcolm.  Outliers.
Langer, Ellen.  Counterclockwise.
Van Fleet, James K.  Hidden Power.

26 comments :

  1. Damn right!!! I've seen a lot of talkers but not a lot of walkers.

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  2. I've seen a lot of people boasting ELITE these days. None beating the hell out of anything other than their joints and pocketbooks. Good write up!

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  3. This jawn was good.
    Work ethic is admirable.
    So is that girl's ass posted above.

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  4. So are you basically saying: Do your best and keep the head down?


    I had a feeling busting your ass consistently makes up for lack of talent. My mate who is doing the same degree as me used to get away with very little work in secondary school, and the last 2 years( bar 2 fails) he was fine in college. He has always been able to get through his tests with inconsistent work, leaving it to the end. I questioned if my consistent work was worth it, seeing as he has not a worry in the world. I always thought it was, but never had proof as to why. I understand the difference between information overload and the ability to apply different aspects of the course on cue, which can only come from consistent honing.


    Nobody posts on my online training log. Why shouldnt i leave it there. I am anonymous on that forum.

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  5. It's popular for a lot of geeks to ask for their new routines to be critiqued. You should never do that. It's the first step to second guessing yourself. Better to tweak and adjust it along the way than to have a bunch of wannabes rip it apart before you've even given it a try.

    I wonder... If I pulled some routine out of my ass right now and posted it on rosstraining or any other message board where beginners hang out asking for it to be critiqued, how many retards who've never even competed before would make suggestions based on ideas they don't even use themselves. Tht probably happens a lot.

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  6. Block- Your training log and your goals are two totally different things.

    Adebisi- Nice use of jawn for the first time in 20 years. I commend you for resurrecting that one.

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  7. I like a lot of your articles quite a bit, but this one kind of sucked. I see your overall point: Goals are often set too low and shitty lifts are bragged about too much, but most of it seems to be making the point that GOALS are bad, period.

    I like the way Wendler put it: Goals are great, plans are good, and programs suck. Meaning, this is the hierarchy of importance that your training should be based around.

    Having a goal but no program is better than trying to find the "perfect" program with no idea where the fuck you want to end up.

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  8. MikeD425 as I understood Jamie is trying to say that goals limit you, that our capabilities are beyond what we can comprehend at the moment. Even when you achieve let say for example 350kg on the deadlift, and that was your lifetime goal, then what happens? Should you stop, or should you bust your butt and rip 400+ and more. That is how records are broken and set. 50-60 years ago 800 pounds deadlift was a myth, now you have Poundstone who simply plays with them for 9 fucking reps.

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  9. Too many kids are setting their goals based on other kids' shitty lifts. Since nobody in their health club can squat 405 and only two or three of their online buddies are even closing in on that poundage they see it as a ceiling and then blame their mediocrity on genetics and a holier-than-thou stance against drug use rather than the fact that they set chickenshit goals for themselves in the first place.

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  10. The word "jawn" has never left the lexicon of any person I know who grew up in the Delaware Valley. Keepin' it goin' for the old heads.

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  11. Wendler seems to be a great authority on this. Tbh I dont think I read this article correctly the first time round. I think i missed the point.

    His 5/3/1 book notes the importance of realistic goal setting and there is no way you can fail in achieving the 2.5-5 kg increments. This I feel is a good way to go about it if you are new to strength training. Too many people get stuck in a rut thinking this is the /only/ way to go about it.

    Oh yeah and Jamie. Your writing has had a very positive effect on my life at present. Your bolshy 'grab life by the balls' writing style convinced me to quit my job in an awesome blaze of fury. Swallowing your pride to assholes is not sustainable.

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  12. LOL! I'm sure your landlord will understand that you just couldn't handle another day of getting your feelings hurt being yelled at for sucking at your job. Probably pretty easy when your landlords are mommy and daddy. I hope the "awesome blaze of fury" was worth it. It'll probably be talked about for weeks!

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  13. Block- I've not found that 2.5-5kg increments are indefinitely sustainable, but for beginners they might be sustainable for some time. I'm psyched you're enjoying the blog this much... just don't use it as justification for anything terribly illegal, if you would.

    Bolshy? I've been called a lot of things in my life, but that's a new one.

    Adebisi- Although Radnor's in the Delaware Valley, I doubt that's the area to which you were really referring, haha. As such, my frame of reference might be skewed.

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. One thing Id like to clarify is that your prose has spurred me in recent times to do stuff i hate doing and my employer is not the only one I learnt to deal with up front.

    Glenn I think you jumped to conclusions regards my integrity. I am an anonymous poster and havnt given enough info for you to make a judgement, although it is fun to slate people on the internet :-)

    I am in a position to fuck off from a job when i see fit as i am a student who only leaves his house to go to the gym. I have scholarship exams in January that are my only priority. The benefits of getting them are immense. 2 free meals a day. An apartment on campus for 5 years. Free postgraduate should you choose to do one along with a title at the end of your name for c.v purposes lol.

    I live at home with my parents still and am fairly self sufficient. I rarely ask for stuff but i dont feel guilty when i do, as im on great terms with my parents. There are plenty more jobs out there and I will get another in March...no biggie.

    The job meant nothing to me. It was not an irresponsible judgement to make in quitting. I will be leaving the country this summer anyway to work so id have to quit at some stage soon anyway.

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  16. Doesn't sound like I was all that wrong. Whatever makes you happy though; at least you're honest about it.

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  17. Yeah i guess you werent that wrong. I have rope unlike many others to go to college without absolutely needing a job. Many guys in my year are working 4 or 5 nights a week. College work must be a big struggle for them though...at the same time most will pull through in the end.

    Me...I dont have it in me to do that amount of work on top of college.

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  18. Actually reconsidering your first comment heres how i see my current position:

    I am quite reliant on life at home and need my parents for support and will do for another year. AFter that I either qualify for a low paid phd or go and work a monkey job in a chemistry lab for a while.

    Girls are the worst for relying on parents though. I think there is a difference between the support i get and the money grabbing behaviour of some bitches i know. Im not sure who is to blame, the parents or the bitches. I know this one bitch (her friends probably in the same boat) who can afford to lose 90 euro and her handbag out of sheer stupidity yet can go out to a club again 2 nights later and then again for 3 consecutive night. I hate that shit...I was drinkin in her house with a bunch of people last week and she just flat out demands it. Her private school friends are more than likely the same as i heard no one mention her out of sync behaviour. Doing that at age 19 is incredible.
    She has never had a job, neither . Ive held down jobs well since i began at 15 even though i still get support from family. I do keep this to an absolute minimum

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  19. My former roommate ganked a purse off the same chick, who bore remarkable resemblance to the one outlined above, twice in a month. The same chick, and she recognized him the second time, yet was still either too dumb or too apathetic to put two and two together.

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  20. This is the first of your blogs that I actually disagree with.

    I don't think the problem lies in having goals but in the people that set them for themselves. Before I had read much about lifting I used to think that the coveted 300/400/500 would be a lfetime's achievement but now I perceive it more like reaching the starting line rather than a 'ceiling'. Back when my bent press was 30kg I thought that getting to 60kg would be something almost superhuman. After seeing Poundstone warm up with one arm snatches at the same weight and reading here that the women's record stands at 65kg it became a mere milestone and that's what goals should be treated as if people are serious about achieving them. I think the internet is a blessing and a curse for this. Inspiring videos and PRs get posted on it every day and you can either assimilate them and realise that the same is possible with the right attitude and work ethic or you can consciously or subconsciously dismiss them as unachievable because of the usual excuses. Personally speaking, a 500 deadlift is a current goal and I know that I will get it this next year, however, that 500 is a stepping stone and I know that the day I lift it I won't be happy to pat myself on the back and call it a day in terms of breaking ass to lift more.
    The word 'goal' has very conclusive connotations however. Goals should treated as rungs on a ladder - an important destination until you overtake them and insignificant once you have, rather than vague and wistful dreams, forum advertisments of your mediocrity, or something your latest training manual tells you you should shoot for.

    - KC

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  21. I found partying in college to be kind of strange in that the ones who would get the most fucked up and do the stupidest shit seemed to be the ones who were geeks in high school and never partied back then at all. The pub was always full of Lewis-and-Gilbert-esque nerds who were falling all over the place and getting punched out for running their mouths. And the sluttiest girls tended to be the ones who'd been the most sheltered by their parents back in high school. There's almost no such thing as a girl who doesn't put out in college but it's the ones who have just discovered sex who will do the kinkiest shit.

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  22. Yeah i skull fucked this asian girl i met on face book in a hotel stair case a few moths ago. I was chatting to her for about two months before hand. She was looking at my bodybuilding pics on facebook.

    Stupidest bitch ive ever spoken to in my life. Within 5 minutes of speaking to her i had my hand inside her.

    I just got back from a mates birthday there. Im a bit of a dickhead for just leaving as a girl beside me was looking to be introduced but i was too slow to cop on to that before leaving! Everywhere i look however i see girls who want dick and are fairly up front about it. Ive become very reclusive since the start of college term but wish i had the stones to take advantage of these girls again like in summer time.

    That teamed with other experiences during the summer leads me to believe that the middle class birds who act proper their whole lives and conform to clicks in their school go fucking mental for dick once they hit college. My game is off so I need to change that shit pronto.

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