Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions and the Cheshire Cat

So the New Year is here. What are you going to do about it?

If you are anything like me, you have a history of failed resolutions. Anything from losing weight, to learning Greek, to being a nicer person--I've failed at lots of things. I think the reason was that I went about it in the wrong way. I didn't think clearly about where I wanted to go.

Do you remember Alice in Wonderland? Alice meets the Cheshire cat, and asks for directions.

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where--' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
If you don't have a clear idea of where you are going, you won't get there. A vague resolution is easy to make and easy to abandon, because there aren't any real metrics to know how well you are doing. Lose some weight? Ok. Eat this donut? I can have one donut, can't I? It won't bust my vague goal to lose some weight. A specific goal, on the other hand, allows you to formulate specific steps to reach it. Rather than "learn Greek" or "be nicer", I should pick something like "read Iliad Book 9 in Greek" or "volunteer at the local charity three days a month." Now that there are steps, I can do what I need to do to get there. This works in fitness, too. "Get in better shape" is so vague as to be useless. So is "Lose some weight." In addition, a performance-based goal gives you some incentive to do it, since there will be a reward at the end.

I suggest you make clear resolutions this year. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Finish the Starting Strength Linear Progression. DTFP! 
  2. Compete in a meet at a particular weight-class.  
  3. Add 100lbs to your conventional deadlift. 

My goal is to set the Illinois record in 100% Raw Powerlifting for ages 40-44 in the 242 weight class. I've already got the record in 275lb class. I have to do this before my birthday in May. So, when I think of skipping training or eating poorly, I can think of how my goals would be affected, and I'm able to be better motivated.

I've done much better the more specific my goals are. You should give it a try.