Goal Setting

“It is never too late to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

How you view the process to reach your goal can be either exciting or horrifying.

When we set a goal for ourselves, it is easy to let our minds wander to the “what ifs.”  What if I don’t succeed? What if I run into obstacles? What if I can’t do it?

Some of us who love a challenge, focus only on the goal and never the obstacles.

When you set out to accomplish something, what do you focus on most? Do your thoughts get in the way of pursuing your goal?

After I had my son, I decided I wanted to get into the best shape of my life. I spent so much of my time focusing on my cellulite and having a negative body image. I decided I wanted to compete in a physique competition.  Nolan was born at the end of 2010.  The first year was spent coping with acid reflux, colic, and breastfeeding struggles.  After Nolan’s first birthday, I set out to accomplish my goal. 

Setting a goal to compete probably seemed insane to everyone I knew.  Here I am, 30 years old with a toddler, deciding I want to compete alongside all of the early 20 somethings.  I prefer to wear a cover-up at the beach and have back pain from contorting myself around to see if my cutoff shorts show any dimples on the backs of my legs.

Here is the funny part: None of this dawned on me. I didn’t look at the categories by age at the time to know I would be one of the older ones in the Open group. I didn’t spend one single solitary second worrying about who else was going to be there.  I didn’t think for one minute that I couldn’t do it.  If anyone else could, I could, too.  I was going to do it.

I was extremely nervous at my first competition. Things went well, I did not win, but I loved the sport.  I loved the camaraderie, the stress relief I found in lifting, and the confidence I gained. I went out there in a bikini! Without a cover-up! It was exhilarating.

I qualified for Nationals at my second competition. I decided to compete at USAs in 2013 in Las Vegas.

On the entry form, it said to bring a pool suit as the winners of each class will participate in a photoshoot the following morning with JM Manion.  I packed my suit.  I distinctly remember having the conversation with Eric about the number of entries that comprise a National competition.  I didn’t care.  I still had a chance, and I was going to hope for the best.

Backstage, I was so calm and happy.  I met one of my now dearest friends, Lisette Howard.  Bikini Glam to the max, we hit the stage with smiles on our faces.

I won Bikini class E that day out of 48 other competitors.

I believe this was due to a focus on the outcome and not the obstacles. I could have sat backstage curled up in a ball, rocking in a corner, analyzing all of the other women in my class.  I could have psyched myself out and stressed about every last detail of my hair, makeup, suit, stage presence. I put all of that behind me, decided I had nothing to lose (I didn’t), and marched out there giving it my personal best.

I was an IFBB Pro after baby, at 30 years old.

The ante was upped on the Pro stage. The first few pro shows, I kept to my previous outcome-focused mindset, and I had a blast.  Then something happened, I started to see the obstacles instead of the outcomes.

Enter the fear of failure.

All I could do was compare myself to others. I am too old for this.  I will never win. There are just too many competitors. Competing is too hard! What was I thinking? (Most of these thoughts happened while I scrolled through Instagram.)

I haven’t been on stage for some time now.  I focused on muscle building after a run of over a dozen competitions. I also have been focusing on my goal-setting mindset. Not only will my physique have to improve to be successful, but so will my mindset. It is crucial for me to return to outcome-focused thinking.

What can I do to get back in the right mindset while pursuing my goals? Here’s where I am going to start, I would love if you joined me!

5 Top Tips for Goal Setting:

1. Catch yourself when you are going down the rabbit hole. Usher those thoughts out and replace them with affirmations. One trick is to take a ponytail holder or a rubber band and snap it when you find yourself obstacle focused and stewing over negative thoughts.

2. Set a measurable timeline. Have you ever made plans to clean the garage that never happen? Set a timeframe.  Hold yourself accountable.  Keep the promise you make to yourself.

3. Choose an attainable goal.  By no means limit yourself, but with a time-bound setting, you’ll want to be realistic.  Avoid setting out to lose 50 pounds in 6 weeks, for example.

4. Create an action plan to take you to your goal. With competing, I focused on hiring a coach (enter Eric) and following specific training and nutrition week by week.  Breaking my preparations into weeks instead made it manageable and helped me to avoid becoming overwhelmed. After my first competition, I realized it took me about nine months to prepare.  I didn’t notice that as I went along, though, since I had chunked it down to each week.

5. Commit.  When I was younger, my parents never let me quit playing a sport mid-season. See your goal through.  If you decide that something you thought you wanted isn’t all that it is cracked up to be, change your course after the full experience. Having an accountability partner is another wonderful way to stay committed to your goal. Let someone in on your goal and ask them to keep tabs. You can also make a bet with that person. If you do this, be sure to choose a person who won’t let you out of it.

I don’t want any of you to think my story is always happily- ever- after. I have taken my lumps during goal pursuits. The number one thing is to focus on the outcome, not the obstacles and to get back up again. Remember, if you never quit; you never fail.