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On Goals, Targets and Competition

If you were asked today what you goal was in fitness, fighting or whatever, what would you say? I’ve heard various different answers from various people but only a few people really knew. I’ve heard some like “to get in good shape” or “to fight” or “to be the best I can be”. The next question is what then? I mean, you get in great shape, what then? Does your goal become “to maintain my shape”? Sounds a bit dull. If you fight, do you then say that your goal is to fight again? Not very thrilling. And how do you really know what the best you can be is?Do you wake up one morning and say “yup, that’s it, I’m at my peak”. I think it’s more likely you’ll look back and see that peak from a few years ahead.

So it begs the question, why have a final destination at all? Why have an ultimate goal? Why not just enjoy the ride?

It would be unfair of me to ask that hypothetical question and not give my own answer, so here goes. I have no goal. Never have had one, probably never will. Sure I say things like “I’d like to fight Muay Thai this year”, but I don’t count that as a goal, just as a short term training direction. I’ve said things like “I’d like to be injury free”, but what does that mean really? Does that mean that when I become injury free that I will have achieved my goal? No, it means that I will be injury free as of that moment. It’s the same when people set themselves weight loss targets, or strength targets. Achieving those goals is a short term success, but maintaining or improving is an ongoing process.

I fight a bit, not as much as I’d like to, but a bit. I get asked quite a bit about why I do it and I seem to always give a different answer. But I’ll try to explain as best I can here. Firstly, I’m 31 years old. That’s pretty young, but in athletic terms, it’s in and around the time when you look behind you and see a big slope leading up to where you are now, and look in front and see another slope heading downwards. I hope to remain up here for as long as possible, but I have to expect to be heading down in the next few years. I never got into MMA to be one of the elite, or to be a fighter. I was always interested in competing and testing myself, and I wanted to do that at the highest level possible, but it was never about being the best of the best. For me, competing is about the test, and training for the test is about the test too. I’m still the kid who sticks his finger in places just to see if it will fit (no disgusting jokes please.) I just want to know stuff, and most of all, I want to know about myself and what I can do. Does that make any sense to you? Because it makes pretty much no sense to me most of the time.

So that’s competition, what about training? Well, I don’t want to come across like John Lennon here but training for me is about the love. Oh yeah you heard me, the love. I love training, I love the process. I don’t love it for the way it keeps me in shape, though I like that, I don’t love it for the way I get to fight people for fun, though I like that. I love training because I love the process of figuring out how to beat someone when they do a certain thing, or how to improve and refine my way of doing something else. I love the feeling of getting better and I love the feeling when someone does something that beats me. Weird eh? Maybe you can relate, but you probably think I’m a hippy. (I’m not, I’m really not)

But I don’t have a goal. I don’t see anything as some ultimate end point. I just go with the flow and try to enjoy every minute of it. Sure I have some targets, but I’m not beating myself up when I don’t get them and I’m not going to stand on a box shouting about it when I do get them. I would never be so conceited as to say to anyone “hey, try living like me”, but I think everyone should be critical enough of themselves to really ask what happens when they achieve the goals they’ve set themselves, because I think a lot of people quit either way- whether they get those goals and realise it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, or whether they fall short and decide not to try again. Maybe you should try falling in love with the process.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “On Goals, Targets and Competition

  1. Oh my God….you are like a ninja.

    Posted by Will Heffernan | August 28, 2009, 7:12 am
  2. Yup, not a hippy, a ninja.

    Posted by Barry Oglesby | August 28, 2009, 2:23 pm
  3. Wow man your reasons are so much more noble then any i could come up with for fighting.

    Posted by The Paddy | August 31, 2009, 11:20 pm

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