The first thing you have to do when you set a goal is to determine exactly for whom you're doing it. Everyone needs goals, but we also need motivation to realize those goals. Many times, when the purpose of the goal is undetermined or ambiguous, the goal goes unrealized. Even while it may seem selfish or narcissistic, the best goals realized are those you set for yourself. Success is often measured in terms of accomplishment. But really, the accomplishment is realizing the goal. Success is just, sometimes, a side effect of reaching your goal. The best advise I ever received to effect an accomplishment is to set your goals high and strive to achieve them. Here's a good example:
Between January 1985 and April 1996 I had been on a total of 35 magazine covers. After you've been on several, the novelty wears off and it just becomes part of the deal. By no means did I ever set a goal to be on a magazine cover. I'd never minimize the tremendous honor it is to be on a cover, but, the reality is, if you're a top pro, you get covers. But, every now and then something really cool happens that puts the whole magazine cover mystique into perspective. At least it did for me.
The first cover I did for Ironman magazine was in November,1988—as the hero, Hercules Incarnate. I got another Ironman cover in February of 1991. And, one more, the last Ironman cover of my competitive career, in April of 1992. During my induction into the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, on Memorial Day, 2011 Ironman publisher, and old friend John Balik, came up to me and asked if I would consider being on the cover of his magazine again.
“I’d love to,” I said, maybe a little too quickly.
“Good,” he said, “we have a tight publication schedule, the photo shoot is on July 15. Can you be ready?”
“Heck yeah,” I responded, without thinking it through (that’s how I’ve always been - accept the challenge and figure out how to get it done later). Then I started doing the math. Oh boy.... That would give me 52 days to get in photo shoot shape – that's like two inches away from contest shape! Could I do it? At 48 years of age?
Now, I was still in good shape. You have to be if you own a nutritional supplement company. People would tell me I looked good. But, You know, you get brutally honest people that would punctuate that statement with, “not like you used to though, but still pretty good.”
“Pretty good?” Oh man.... What did I just get myself into? It was 15 years since I did a cover shoot! (Flex magazine, April 1996). I knew I had serious work to do to be ready. I was currently eating four meals a day - I had to ratchet that up to seven immediately. I was training four days a week - that had to increased to five. I had no room to miss a single training day.
The mechanics of what I did were pretty cut and dry. But what drove me? Was it to promote my company? Sure. But we were already growing nicely. Nothing as crazy as what I bit off was necessary! Pride can be a great motivator, But after 35 covers, I had nothing to prove
I thought back to the last Rocky movie that came out in 2006, Rocky Balboa. There’s a scene where Rocky is asked why he’s making a comeback and he says, “I still have the fire in my belly. I’m doing it for me.” I liked that. And that was my real reason. I took on this ambitious goal for me.
To make a long story short, I put my nose to the grindstone, I put in the work and sacrifice and showed up at the shoot just as I had for any of the other photo shoot I've ever done – ready. But, it didn't hit me until that October 2011 issue of Ironman magazine showed up in my mailbox with me on the cover – 20 years after the last one I did. I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I did it. If I do say so myself, I looked pretty damn good – even for an old man!
There may be a lot of thoughts and motivations swirling around in your head for something you're trying to accomplish. Maybe you're trying to get someone to notice you. Maybe you want to show your significant other or your parents what you can accomplish. I’ve been there too. But let me say to you right now: don't do it for anyone else – do it for you. For your own personal sense of accomplishment. I’m a people pleaser. You may be too. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with it. But don’t forget the one person you're with 24 hours a day, the one you see in the mirror each morning. And here’s a little secret you probably already know: when you please yourself you're usually more pleasing to those around you. It’s almost impossible to impress yourself and not impress others. If you want to take better care of the important people in your life, start by taking better care of yourself. Hit the gym with a passion today. Don’t do it for anyone else. Do it for you . . . impress yourself!