How to Make Tangible Goals Out of the Intangible

Setting goals is hard, especially when it comes to fitness.  Unless you are a competitive athlete trying to make weight, break a record or win in your sport, it can feel like making something materialize from thin air.

One of my clients is working through this right now.  She knows she wants to feel and see changes in her self.  But what exactly does she want to see and feel? A certain number when she stands on a scale?  The feel of a bit more room in her jeans?  The sense of strength of picking up a weight she never thought she could?

Thinking it might help, I sent her the Spitfire goal worksheet.  After working with it a bit, she wrote a post on her blog about it.  From reading her blog post, I realized that I have left something off the worksheet or just left it vague.  What makes us want to have or do something?

In striving for an Olympic gold medal, an athlete may seek to push the boundaries of human potential, love from family, fame and fortune maybe even enlightenment.  Fear can also move us though it is about moving away from something than towards something.  I am sure there are Olympic athletes that train and compete to avoid shame, guilt and pain.

I believe Love is the ultimate motivator. Without getting too woo woo, I’ll just say that we humans accomplish tremendous things for the Love of a person or Love of the Divine.  You might run a little faster when you know the person you have a crush on is watching.  You might work extra hard to drop two clothing sizes for your wedding.  You might choose to practice yoga everyday for a month to deepen your connection with the Divine.

So whose Love is your goal for?  What do you want to do or have for them? Do you want more strength to protect your kids?  Do you want to lose weight for your honey or potential honey?  Do you want to learn to change your nutrition for the health of your family?  Do you want to run a 5k to feel a sense of accomplishment and self-Love?

Exploring why you want to do or have something makes creating tangible goals out of nothing much easier. When I was a kid, I worked on my jump shot in basketball every afternoon, because I wanted to be a Harlem Globetrotter and loved by fans.  I practiced my camel turn on roller skates, because I wanted a handsome prince to see me perform in an ice-skating show and fall madly in love with me (I blame Disney for that one.).  I concentrated on trying to levitate objects with my mind to gain Jedi powers and experience the flow of the Force in, through and around me.  I was crystal clear what I wanted, why and for whom.

Let Love lead you to your goal.

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The Lesson of the Monster Hunter

Stop Fucking Playing It Safe

Ok, cursing in the subtitle is not my style but…

Fuck it!

I’m channeling the Monster Hunter here.

Are you playing it safe with your workouts?  Do you do just enough to say you did something?

You’re weak!

Leave it all on the trail, the road, the floor, the field.

Are you backing off on the yoga mat?  When the sensation of pain comes do you back off?

Yellow Belly!

Soften.  Go inside your pain to unravel the mystery it has to teach you.

Do you give into other people’s demands on your time and sacrifice what you need to do to stay healthy and happy?

You’re such a pussy!

Take back that time.  Your peeps will respect you more for it.  Plus, they cannot be happy and healthy if you aren’t.

Do you hold back your emotions because you think you’ll seem weak?

Fuck that!

Let it out.  Scream, cry, break something, sing, dance, whatever.  Holding onto that shit is just going to make you ill.  You’re human.  Revel it that.

Do you feel riddled with guilt if you enjoy eating too much?

You dainty pansy!

Enjoy the bounty that we are given.  Eat your fill of what nourishes you.  Heap praises on whoever cooks your meal, especially if that’s you.  Share the wonder with as many people as possible too.

You must do these things to be a brave and strong monster hunter.  If you hold back from life, even a little, a monster will smell that on you. It doesn’t matter what you call that monster or whether it is within you or outside of you.

It will press you because it knows you will give ground.  You already have.

It will keep coming at you until you’ve backed yourself over the edge of the cliff.

Live life in all its glory and all its suffering.  You will radiate so brightly that you blind your foe.

You will know when to press forward, when to stand your ground and when to drop and roll, so that the monster will wear itself out and give up.

This is a lesson I am still learning from the Monster Hunter, Benjamin Mufti.

When in doubt about what action to take, I ask myself, “What would Mufti do?”

We honor Ben’s memory this weekend at:

Tne Ben Mufti Memorial 5k Run/Walk
Sunday, December 4th
8:00am
Picnic area 24 in Rock Creek Park (next to the Carter Baron Amphitheater and the Tennis Center).

Cos is $25 for charity (+ a nominal service charge for online registration).  There will be no race day registration.

Register here: http://www.racepacket.com/calendar/frace.php?fid=77

The Aha Moment

Have you given up on your training practice because it seems too hard?

Is there something you have been practicing for a long time but progress seems illusive?

Get back to it.  Keep at it.  Find support from a friend, teacher or coach.  Surprise awaits you.

The culmination of practice often brings results when you least expect.

I see this all the time with clients. After I show them a new exercise, I see the battle within their minds. They say, “You make that look so easy, but I’ll never get there.”

My reply is always, “I’ve been practicing this for a long time.”

We’re Building Something Here

When a client struggles with a new exercise, I break it down into steps or modify it. We break it down to build it back up with a strong foundation. The body often gains understanding of how to do a movement while the mind stays occupied with judgment and comparison. I believe that is why the Aha Moment seems to come out of nowhere.

In Combattitude, the Aha Moment comes up all the time. We practice and break down a movement, practice and break down, practice and break down. The mind quiets down because it can’t keep up. When we stop thinking and just move, the Aha Moment smacks us like a Dharma stick. We’ve got it and we’ll never lose it.

At age 17, I taught myself to do headstand by following the Sivananda Companion to Yoga. It was a lesson in patience. Without the book’s guidance, I would have practiced headstand throwing my legs up in the air and hoping they would just find a way to stay in the air.

The book specifically broke down the steps to getting into headstand with the instruction to practice each step for a period time before adding the next. It was to teach the body to build a strong foundation then align and stabilize the spine on top of that foundation.

It took months but the “Aha! I got it!” moment, when I actually held a headstand for over a minute, did come. It never left me. Those headstand lessons became so ingrained in my muscle memory that I can get into headstand as easily as I can get out of bed.

Break down what you are trying to accomplish into smaller steps or phases.  Repeat them until they become second nature.  Then put the pieces back together.

Same Lesson Years Later

I have spent time this summer building my handstand and forearm stand practice, just as I did my headstand those years ago. Coincidentally, my six-year-old nephew recruited me last night into helping him do handstands and headstands.

After each “failed” attempt at standing on his hands or head by throwing his legs in the air, he proclaimed, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard.” and angrily threw his arms down by his side or across his chest. Like his aunt, he wants to be brilliant the first time he tries anything.

Once the emotional storm blew over, I showed him the steps I learned to build the headstand.  I showed how to use the wall for handstand.  In playfully demonstrating a forearm stand, I found my legs hovering overhead without the support of the wall. Aha! I had never done that before and I’ve practiced quite a bit in the last year. What a pleasant surprise!  I got it because my mind had let go of expectations.  I was just goofing around.  Without the pressure of getting it right, my body was free to do what it had learned.

My nephew is well on his way to his Aha Moment with his headstand. The handstand is not far behind. In my opinion, he is quite a yogi in the making. I look forward to when his stance changes from arms down in defeat to arms up in victory.

If you have been working really hard to get something.  Put it away for a while.  Let it steep.  When you come back to it, just play.  You might surprise yourself.

  • What do you wish you could do but think is out of reach?
  • What are you working on but can’t quite get?
  • What do you wish you had help understanding how to do?

Leave a comment and let’s see what we can accomplish together.

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Do It Already!

Meatballs (film)

Image via Wikipedia

Some sweat and a lot of tears, not so much blood, have gone into getting this puppy online.  I am no webmeister or WordPress guru so the learning curve was Everestine.  I would take stabs at figuring it out then get discouraged and think that it would have to wait until I could pay someone.

Eventually, I had to face the truth that it just didn’t matter because, as a bootstrapping entrepreneur, I had to do it myself or it wouldn’t get done.  Just “Ship It,” Seth Godin would say. “Do the Work,” Steven Pressfield would say.

“It just doesn’t matter,” Bill Murray as head camp counselor, Tripper Harrison, in Meatballs would say.

That is what I say to you now.

It just doesn’t matter.

Can’t seem to find time to workout in your busy day?

It just doesn’t matter.

Think you can’t take Tango lessons because you are uncoordinated?

It just doesn’t matter.

Would love to say you’ve done a marathon but you’re not a runner?

It just doesn’t matter.

Can’t workout today because you forgot your Lululemon outfit?

It just doesn’t matter.

Yes, I am throwing another Bill Murray reference at you.  There will be many to come, so go with it.

If you don’t know the story of Meatballs, it’s about summer camp.  At the end of summer, there is an inter-camp sports competition.  Camp Mohawk, the rich kids camp, always wins.  Camp North Star, filled with lovable misfits and fun-loving camp counselors, must face Camp Mohawk.  The night before the final competition the camp is gathered together.  Everyone is feeling down because they can’t seem to catch a break against Mohawk.

Tripper, through a rousing exaggerated sermon reminds the camp that, “It just doesn’t matter.”  It doesn’t matter if Camp Northstar sucks or is great.  It doesn’t matter that Camp Mohawk takes their training seriously.  It just doesn’t matter because it’s not permanent.  Life goes on.  It just doesn’t matter because Camp Northstar is going to have a blast, whether they are great at an event or suck rotten eggs.  Most importantly, it just doesn’t matter because…well, I’ll let Tripper tell you.

So, when you think you can’t do something physical because of this reason, that excuse, just say, “It just doesn’t matter.”  Then, Just Do It.

Make the time to workout.  Find a good Tango partner that will make you look good.  Enlist a friend to start running with you to get you moving toward that marathon.  You don’t need the latest fitness fashions to go for a walk.  Find the work-arounds.  Get creative.

What are you putting off trying?

Share what your putting off in the comments below.  Let’s throw our hands in the circle and shout, “It just doesn’t matter!” together.

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