Be Honest With Me, Are You Honest With You?

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Be Honest With Me, Are You Honest With You?


BY: David Folmer


Last week, I wrote to you all about the benefit of trying to maintain a growth mindset, versus being hamstrung dealing with a fixed mindset. This means, I can only presume, that everyone who read that post has by now, perfected the act of setting their mindset to crush goals and achieve awesomeness, right?! Great!


However, not so fast. While we may have the greatest growth mindset, we will inevitably find ourselves frustrated with the goal setting process if we fail to honestly identify whether our prospective goal is an interest, is important, or is a core goal. A goal placed in the “interest bucket” is likely more properly labeled a curiosity, as it is something on your radar, but not really something you are driving towards achieving. A goal placed in the “important bucket” is something you give attention to and give relatively more energy towards but are not game-changers. A goal placed in the “core goal bucket” is something that you define yourself with, that is paramount in priority, and will trump any other item in the first two buckets.


Sounds easy enough, but there is massive room for goal misidentification because in short, your actions must track with practical application of what you place in your “core goal” bucket. In his book The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant summarizes Aristotle’s famous quote of “excellence is an art won by training and habituation,” to mean that the attributes such as virtue and excellence are formed by actions, or in other words, “we are what we repeatedly do.”  Not what we do occasionally, or what we think we do, but what we actually “repeatedly do,” and herein lies the rub.


How many times have you heard someone indicate “fitness is a core goal of mine,” yet they continue to eat donuts for breakfast, smoke cigarettes, and can’t remember the last time they showed up at the gym. Or, how many times have you seen someone exude some quality, some aura of greatness, but they never put in the work and you see their disappointment or frustration after not meeting their own expectations. The common denominator here is that their actions are inconsistent with their stated core goal.


To have a realistic shot of achieving a core goal, your actions must track with your core goals. If they do, then each step is in the right direction and the process can become the reward in and of itself and coming with it the satisfaction that you are living a life true to who you want to be and making positive progress towards what you hold most important. However, if your actions do not track, whether conscious or unconscious, the disconnect between your core goals and actions will inevitably create a void filled only by disequilibrium, frustration, doubt, anxiety, confusion, and ultimately, unhappiness.


This is not to say that the person with the unrealized disconnect is not worthy of empathy, is lazy, or is somehow incompetent. There are a million reasons why an individual may be unclear as to what is in their core goal bucket, including denial as to what they think is a core goal based on the expectations of others. It simply means there may be room for introspective evaluation and opportunity to change their behavior.


Personally, I had this experience in January of 2018. For two years, I had gone to the gym, watched the CrossFit videos, bugged Suzette constantly about “GAINZ!,” and did all the check the box things I thought I needed to do to achieve my core goal of “being fit.” But, I like treats. And happy hours. And as a result, was super frustrated about my overall fitness and that when it came to competition, I got crushed. Like, hilariously so.  


Then in January, at Suzette’s announcement, we started a new eating plan and within the first week, I started to see physical changes. Yet, more importantly, I was exposed to the degree I had been plaguing my own success. Though I had “be fit” in my “core goal” bucket, my actions were more consistent with “be fit” being in the “interest bucket.” In response, choices became very simple. It was simply a matter of “do I want (this treat/to watch one more show instead of sleep/this drink), or do I want to be fit.” The product of this change was that happy hours became focused on the people and not the drinks, weekend mornings became opportunities to get a head start on the day, read, or reflect versus trying to deal with the previous night’s frivolities, and midday candy runs turned into power walks to refocus and recharge to attack the afternoon with purpose. More tangibly, I dropped 15 pounds, dropped 7% body fat, hit front squat, snatch, overhead press, and 400m run PRs, got my first ring muscle up, and after another month, put myself in a position to where I was able to jump my placing in the CrossFit open by 22% from the previous year.


Now, while I am proud of my results, I still frequently must fluidly evaluate how I spend my time. Yet, I think making it a practice to take the additional step to honestly determine whether one’s actions are consistent with what they want to accomplish, as well as fully understanding the gravity of what is placed one’s core goal bucket, is a fast track towards health and happiness.


You are the sum of what you repeatedly do and, considering that time and energy is a nonrenewable resource, I think we owe it to ourselves to be honest, and keep ourselves on our path towards what we hold as our identity. So, let’s not disappoint. And we’ll crush it. Honestly.


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