Tracking your progress, achieving your goals

A couple of weeks ago I put up a post about setting training goals, knowing what you want to achieve and articulating that clearly with your coach.


So now you have a destination locked in, how do you know you are moving closer to it or not?


A lot like when out hiking or orienteering, its amazing just how easy it is to become distracted and stray off track, believe me, I’ve done it myself dozens of times.  So today I thought I’d give you the advice that its taken me years or slip ups to achieve.


Firstly, look at your goals.  The more clearly you’ve defined your goals then the easier it will be to pick a way to track them.  Look for something that is measureable and ideally has a time scale associated with it.  For instance, your goal may be to deadlift a particular weight in 6 months time, or to run a sub 1 hour 10km in 4 months time, or to lose 4 inches off your waist by your next holiday.


From this point its simply a case of picking an appropriate metric to measure and then doing so consistently and at regular intervals to be able to track progress.  Now, just a word of warning on this.  Metrics are fantastically helpful but do not obsess over them.  This can lead to over training, under eating and general unhappiness. Measure the metrics, document them, potentially discuss them with your coach but then don’t haunt you.

In the past, when pushing for performance goals I have become unhelpfully obsessed with tracking my metrics, which has led to me doubting my well thought out programs and deviating from course (to my detriment).


But what if your goals do have easily track-able metrics?

What if your goal is simply to ‘feel better’ or to ‘be happier’?

Well firstly I’d suggest delving a little deeper into what ‘feeling better’ or ‘being happier’ means to you.  Picture a scenario in your head where you have achieved your goal.  Close your eyes and make it a rich vision.  What is different? Generally you will find that there is something physical which has changed in this ideal vision which we can then track.

But what if there isn’t?  Well, that’s ok too, but you have to realise that your training and progress may be a little less clearly defined.


The scenic route.

Now that I have discussed these really solid principals I’m going to seemingly contradict them….bear with me.


What if, during the course of working towards your goals, you realise that you actually want something different.  Well from the advice I’ve written above the obvious answer would be not to get distracted and to stay on the path and work towards what you originally intended.


But that isn’t necessarily always the best course.  True, we don’t want to go off on unnecessary tangents (it’s not uncommon to catch the guy who says his goal is a great marathon time, then pumping up his biceps with dozens of curls!) but sometimes perspectives, and with them, goals, can change in the course of the training journey.


If you’ve talked to me before or read some of my other posts then you will know that I believe training (and everything associated with it) is a transformative process.  Yes, people lose body fat, get more muscular and improve their fitness but I believe it goes beyond this.

Training focuses the mind, it provides a much needed sanctuary for the often chaotic day to day workings of the modern mind.

Training can be a movement based therapy.


Setting ones mind on a goal and then step by step working to achieve something that at one time seemed impossible to that individual is a life changing experience.  It opens the possibility to improve other aspects of ones life and ones self.  It resets the boundaries on what is and isn’t possible.


Because of this people who start with one goal, for instance, losing 5kg of body fat, may get 4kg in and then realise that they have the capacity to take so much more control over their entire life.  They may decide that actually they want to pursue that seemingly impossible dream of returning to playing a once loved, but long abandoned sport.


Set a goal, make it as clearly defined as possible.

Decide (if possible) on a metric to track your progress towards your goal.

Be consistent and regular in tracking your metric but don’t obsess over it, make it your tool, not your master!

Try not to get distracted by alluring but unnecessary tangents.  If it doesn’t move you closer to your goal, don’t get pulled in.

But, keep your mind open to the fact that your goals may change over time as your perspective does.  If a new goal blooms in your mind that’s ok but make sure that it’s what you really want and that you want it more than you want your original goal.


Map. Compass. Go!


Yours in strength