Friday, July 6, 2012

Sometimes the Goal is to Not Have a Goal

I will tell you from my experience working with clients from all walks of life for nearly 12 years, that the people that have succeeded in reaching a happiness and satisfaction with their physique, strength, performance and health; have been clients that no longer cared about the original goal.

Think about it....

 Let me ask you this: what happens when you see tons and tons of previews for a movie and then finally get a chance to see it. Have there been times when you were disappointed with the outcome of a movie? 

To contrast, how many times have you seen a movie you never heard of...and were pleasantly surprised at how good it was? You thought it was great because it pulled you into the plot and the characters kept you engaged?

A goal is an end. It is a reward at the end of the mission. It is like a monthly quota that deserves a bonus. A goal is a specified declaration that defines how the process will be carried out. When the goal is met, the process is over.

But should it really be over?

Achieving optimal health takes a continuum. That continuum is coined by many exercise experts as changing one's lifestyle. Changing ones lifestyle and behavior elicits a long-term procedure that ultimately changes how one acts, thinks, and lives. Changing behaviors leaves one to evolve as a person. This evolution allows the person to learn more about themselves--including their physical capabilities, strengths, weakness, and their outlook on life. 

The problem I see in the fitness industry and with most personal trainers, is we set time limits on our fitness outcomes. We meet clients and we ask them "what is the goal?" 

How can we possibly understand where we want to be in life if we have never experienced what it is that we want?

A goal is nothing more than an ice-breaker. It is  away for me to strike up the conversation and find out where my client is and WHAT PERCEPTION DO THEY HAVE of their inner strength, beauty and efficacy. The goal means nothing to me, because I know they will train with me long past they reach a goal. The goal is simply logistics.

Every client of mine has trained with me for a year or more. The goal has vanished during that time period because it was replaced by direction, progress, and support.

Think about it...if you can create a controlled environment that includes direction, progress and support...would you leave it?

I will guess no. As humans we like structure. And if the structure can helped change our lifestyle through exercise and better nutritional habits; why would we want to leave it?

The only people that have ever stopped using a personal trainer have been those that ran into financial issues, suffered an unforeseen circumstance or tragedy, or were simply not receptive to the controlled environment that you created (or lack of). Others may have stopped because they focused too much on the "goal"...and not the process. As a trainer, get your clients to stop focusing on the goal. Exercise is cumulative. So is behavior modification.

Again, if the environment includes three structural factors: direction, progress and support; the goal is not important. If you have those three factors, your client will meet their expectations and evolve before your eyes.


  1. Excellent Post John, I love your stuff. I've been trying to come to conclusions on client retention and goals myself lately, and this helps me to think outside the box on it.

  2. So true! If one remains SO focused on some arbitrary original goal, they risk missing out on other opportunities. Training led me to a sport I never EVER would have thought I would do. It's brought me happiness and satisfaction beyond what I could have hoped for. You've given sage advice!

  3. It sounds ironic but it does make sense the way you wrote this article. Sometimes goals can be a dead-end road that limits us to explore more and do more. I got some good thoughts about this post, thanks for sharing this to us John.

    I always look forward to reading your blogs.

    Rick Kaselj
    Exercises For Injuries


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