Goal Setting: Are You Missing the Middle?

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Mindset, Training

As Peter has been doing a season wrap-up with many clients this past month, we’ve been talking to each other—and clients!—a lot about goal setting. Specifically, the most often-overlooked part the goal setting process: The MIDDLE. Not just how you’ll get from here to there, but about how you should actually find as much satisfaction in the process/the middle as you do in the Point B. Let’s break it down:

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Goal Setting is ultimately made up of three parts:

1. Point A 

Where are you now? This is collecting your information to create a snapshot of where you’re coming from.

Examples: peak powers, race results, skills, abilities, mood, energy, sleep, symptoms/signs, body measurements, results/placings/times.

2. Point B

Where do you want to go? This is our ‘fuzzy future’, or where we want to end up. Could be things like certain race results/times, race completion, a feeling, a symptom/sign (or improvement), dietary pattern, habit.

Example: increased bike power/run pace, increased measures of strength, improved health outcomes (E.g. control acne/psoriasis), improve digestion/GI

3. The Fun Middle

Between those two points is the next step. Often this is never experienced as we tend to look to the future and dwell on the past. But this should mostly fun—the middle is where you live! It is the controllable thing we can do NOW. At some points in the year, we can’t DO certain goals (e.g. there aren’t races right now, weather changes, work/life hectic). The next step is the thing you CAN do now that moves you towards point B from point A.

The best thing about the middle is that it doesn’t have to be right, perfect, or best. Go through the motions and learn something. This is the ‘failing forward’ idea: can you take on a challenge and regardless of outcome be ahead of where you were? Could you try out strength training for 3 months to see if it improves your body composition or sports performance and, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT DOES, learn about training, nutrition, sets/reps, periodization, and/or about proper lifting technique you can use in your sport but also likely in your life?

Some of the health outcomes are not easy to see where fun or learning can be had. If you have had a health concern or spent time with a loved one the next steps are never-ending and seem like they rarely lead to an outcome. Many aspects of life are not controllable and this is where we might go through those motions but take control, that is take the next steps, to improve our nutrition, sleep, socialization, strength, or aerobic fitness in hopes that it might help the health concern, our ability to handle the stressors of life and/or spiral out into fun things we enjoy independent of that other ‘stuff’.

Examples: Fall recovery periods, doctor’s appointments/blood work, getting started on strength, the pantry cleanout/healthy shopping trip/practice cooking, skills work, learning a new sport/movement…

And here’s the kicker: As soon as you do get to point B, after you take a bit of time to celebrate, you’re back to point A, on to the next goal, and right back to the middle. So if you’re not finding joy or feeling like the points in the middle matter, well, what the heck are you doing? It’s time to stop seeing the middle as messy or the boring part, and seeing it as the main event.

So as you start thinking about your goal setting for next season, it might be time to focus on the middle instead of your point B, or at least in addition to your point B. What lifestyle/fitness/training improvements and tweaks can you make that sound satisfying and fun on a daily or weekly basis that will nudge you closer to your future goals? (If you want to talk through your upcoming season/goals and what your middle might look like, book a call!)


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