Matthew McConaughey after winning the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Dallas Byers Club…
“When I was 15 years old I had a very important person in my life come to me and say…
‘Who’s your hero?’
And I said I don’t know I gotta think about that, give me a couple of weeks.
I come back two weeks later and this person comes up to me and says ‘so who’s your hero?’
I said I thought about it and you know who it is – it’s me in 10 years.
So I turned 25, ten years later, that same person comes to me and goes ‘so are you a hero?’ and I was like – not even close
She said ‘why?’
I said because my hero is me at 35.
So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life my hero is always 10 years away.
I’m never going to be my hero.
I’m not going to attain that, I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”
I remember listening to powerlifter AJ Roberts talk about the emptiness he felt after achieving a world-record breaking 1200lb squat.
Up to that point he’d built his whole life around achieving that goal.
He’d never thought much past it and then, having achieved it, he felt lost.
What was he chasing now?
After the initial high where was the long-lasting elation he expected to feel?
Goals are very important, that’s a given. They’re what inspire us to get off the couch and start moving.
But realise this, the achievement of a goal can often be anti-climatic.
We build this thing up in our head – it’s up there, on top of the mountain and we dream about how we’ll feel when we get there.
Then it arrives.
You achieved your goal . . . and life goes on, just like it did before.
In fact, often nothing much changes at all.
Which is why it’s important to do two things.
First, as Matthew McConaughey alluded to, keep moving the target just a little bit further out of reach.
A friend of mine once said to me “if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking” and it’s always stuck with me.
Always be growing.
Always be striving to improve.
Always be working to get better.
Sure, take the time to congratulate yourself when you reach the top of each mountain, but don’t rest for too long – set a new goal, keep moving forwards and keep chasing something, that’s how you can consistently stay motivated.
The guy who sets a goal of losing 2 stone then stops when he gets there inevitably ends up gaining it all back again.
There has to be something else to aim for, another goal in sight – the people who reach the summit then immediately eye up another mountain and get to work, they’re the ones that stay motivated to keep climbing.
Second, learn to focus on and enjoy the process (and the challenges the process presents) even more than you enjoy the result.
Lance Armstrong, for his sins, was a master of this.
“The Tour De France was almost a let-down.
I loved the build, I loved the process then I’d go win and my manager would always find me in the back of the bus.
Everybody’s outside, signing autographs, popping champagne and I’d be in there just quiet ‘cos the process was over.
I just wanted to get out of there.
The greatest motivator for me was the process, and the process isn’t a training ride or twenty training rides.
The process is sitting down at the beginning of the season and saying…
Okay, number one – what’s our goal?
Number two – how are we going to go about it?
Number three – how are we going to structure the season?
And then it gets very specific after that. Down to a weekly plan, down to a daily plan, down to an hourly plan – that’s all the process.
That’s all I cared about and that’s all I loved.”
And of course, Lance understood that by focussing on the process the results would come anyway.
If you want to achieve any goal your focus must largely be on the process, neglect the process and the results won’t come at all.
A pro poker player was once speaking to his mentor who had won the world series of poker and he asked him ‘when am I going to win the world series?’
And the mentor replied, ‘well, when it’s not a big deal if you win the world series of poker’
By that he meant he’d win the world series when he’d put so much into the process that winning the world series was just the logical conclusion for the efforts that he’d put in leading up to that point.
Again, goals are important but the process is equally so.
Get the process right, put in the effort and the results will come as a by-product.
You don’t magically go from 25% body fat to 12% body fat just by saying it’s your goal or writing it down in your notebook.
It happens because you’ve gone through the process with a certain level of consistency and precision.
You’ve done the little things right over a long period of time. You’ve tracked your food, you’ve instilled better habits, you’ve trained hard and you’ve dropped body fat one lousy pound at a time.
That’s the process.
Set a goal, get the process right, hit your target, rinse and repeat.