When I have a goal or an objective, I usually work more in pursuit of that. Compared to when I do not have a goal, I just move through each day without much thought, awareness, or intent regarding my focus, energy and direction.
I have found that when I have a goal, I begin acting in pursuit of it – I begin to work toward the goal.
Let’s use the example of getting stronger as a goal. I want to increase my main lifts, to also increase my Olympic lifts eventually. I start pursuing this goal by simply getting to the gym. Then I focus on lifting relatively heavy weight at the gym. This continues to spiral; I increase the amount of times a week I go to the gym, I increase the amount of time for each session I’m in the gym, I work on mindset, technique, rest, accessory work, eating, drinking, supplementation, etc.
This is becoming a lot of work, all of which is (arguably) necessary. Unarguably though – hard work is necessary in order to pursue, and eventually hope to achieve my goal.
At this point, I begin to think to myself, there’s probably someone else in the world who has also wanted to increase strength – I wonder how they went about it. Maybe they have some advice, some knowledge, some insight, some way for me to keep working toward my goal, but in a smarter way than I currently am. Admittedly, I am just a guy with a goal, and there are people making mortgage payments off their knowledge in this realm, I’m sure I could be learning from them as I go.
Now I have to double my efforts. As I fight to maintain my hard earned momentum both in the gym, and at home – now, in order to keep moving toward my goal, but in a smarter (often more humbling) way, I have to become a student of strength also. I have to research technique, history, functionality, variations, styles, gear, coaching, mindsets, rest, supplements, accessory work, etc.
Again, hard work alone is only the equivalent of standing in line to buy a ticket to the show you want to see. Hard work gives you the right to show up, it gives you the right to tell yourself you can keep working towards your goal. Hard work alone is not enough. Hard work doesn’t get you into the building. Hard work and consistency gets you nearer the front of the line. Hard work+consistency+working smarter is the only thing that will get you in the door.
when if you get in, you have to earn your keep. The goal hopefully remains unattainable (by always evolving), the pursuit is long and honorable. This is the life of someone who wants to pursue and achieve a goal.
It’s going to take sweat, blood, doubt, tears, discomfort, humility, and mettle.
In the Infantry, we used to take pride in having to work harder than the next guy, or harder than other units, especially harder than other branches. Now it seems that people don’t want to turn and face the fire. Most want to cower, curate, bullshit, find shortcuts, peacock, talk about, and ultimately avoid the work.
Even less people are willing to become students, in order to learn more, and work smarter. It will take longer to be a student of, than to pursue your goal, but it is necessary in order to shift from working hard to working smarter. It will also provide an opportunity to notice, and more deeply appreciate the details in this realm. It’s humbling, and it’s a long road – but it’s fulfilling, it’s honest, and it’s honorable.
Practice first, then research. Keep practicing with new knowledge. Repeat.