The things every high-achiever should know
In: Achieving Goals17 Mar 2011
In a post from last year, Martin Berkhan of LeanGains.com – a blog on nutrition, diet, and exercise – wrote a post on the hidden benefits of maintaining an incredibly lean figure year-round. His article is so on-point, that I will reference his article frequently throughout the post and offer a running commentary. He writes:
“People with a remote interest in fitness and health usually aspire to get lean and maintain that condition. They may also assume that reaching a satisfactory or awe-inspiring condition will elevate their lives to a new level. Much like people assume that winning the lottery will make their lives indefinitely better in just about every aspect.”
I believe that this same thinking happens when we pursue other goals as well. Consider common complaints, such as:
‘Once I get that promotion at work, my life will be so much more manageable.’
‘If only I was more productive, I could finally finish up that business plan and have time for a more active social life.’
Oftentimes, achieving our goals doesn’t quite bring us to the level that we expect it to. For example, many college students are so career-oriented when they graduate, they feel as if securing a job after graduation will solve all of their insecurities about entering the real world. However, this is far from the truth.
When I was a freshman in college, my main goal was to keep my grades high and get involved in business clubs. I felt that if I could nail down some strategies for good grades and get involved in the right organizations, college would be a breeze. However, once I accomplished this goal, I still felt the pull of my other goals, problems, and desires that remained untended to. I felt mildly accomplished, but certainly didn’t feel the elation that I expected. I was experiencing an anti-climax.
When Martin (quoted above) hit his body fat percentage goal and was able to maintain it consistently without excessive effort, he felt the same thing. He had just accomplished a goal he had worked so hard for, yet he felt roughly the same after the gratification he experienced for having reached his goal had faded away. This was him experiencing an anti-climax. However, after the initial shock of the anti-climax, he discovered a hidden benefit of reaching a challenging goal. He now had significantly more mental energy to use on other goals and aspirations. He notes:
“Be honest with yourself: if you’re on a diet, you spend a fair amount of time thinking about it. Being perfectly content [with your weight] saves up an astounding amount of mental energy. Gone are the worries, doubts and obsessions about diet, weight and all other issues pertaining to reaching your goal. The itch is gone. No need to scratch it anymore.”
This is exactly how I felt about my grades and my level of involvement with extracurricular activities. I was able to perfectly gauge the amount of effort required to maintain these activities at their perfect level. Because I didn’t need to burn lots of mental energy to keep on top of these areas of my life, I was free to pursue other activities such as reading more books on personal development (which eventually inspired this blog), engaging in my other passions (weight lifting and nutrition), and spending more time with friends and family.
Martin ends his article on this note:
“You will suddenly rediscover new interests and hobbies – I did. Don’t fill the void with more [exercise and] training. Fill it with reading, family, friends or whatever you like. Learn to be content once your ultimate goal is reached. Set new goals, but learn to accept slower, gradual progress.”
The majority of your goals will be used as drivers towards a well-balanced, accomplished life. If we look at an accomplished life as a full bucket of water, consider each goal achieved as a drop in the bucket. In other words, don’t rely on the accomplishment of an individual goal to be a panacea if you have many issues that need to be addressed or goals that are yet to be achieved. Instead, look forward to the anticlimax, in which the goal has become so integrated into your life, that you no longer feel that different from having achieved it. From there, use your newfound mental energy to further your pursuit towards an exceptional life through personal development, recreation, travel, involvement in your community, etc. After enough anti-climaxes, you can step back and admire the remarkable life you have created for yourself through your cumulative efforts.
If you found the topic of this blog post interesting or useful, I highly recommend you check out Martin’s blog, LeanGains.com. He is, by far, my favorite resource for learning how to achieve my fitness goals.
I'm Jon Guerrera, a life hacker at heart, and the man behind the scenes here at Living For Improvement. This blog documents all of my successes, failures, experiments and lessons learned as I hack my way to happiness, fulfillment and success.
I also wrote an ebook. If you like what I write on the blog, you should definitely check it out below. Oh, and it's free.
Unlimited Drive is the result of four years of diligent research on what drives people to achieve great things. I always wondered how the most successful people in the world could reach such high levels of success and accomplishment. Well, I found the answer and wrote an ebook so I could pass it on to you (for free).
Learn more or subscribe below to get your copy.