Being Honest with Yourself in Goal Setting Leads to Happier Endings
Written by TJ O’Brien

When a gym member asked me for help with pull-ups and dips, she told me, “I have like, 1 pull-up, and I want 2 or 3. I also have like 2 dips, so I’m wanting to increase those numbers.” 

I asked for a video of her current pull-up and dip, but what I got back were a couple of incomplete reps. Her pull-up didn’t start at a dead hang – the hardest position for most people – and she had one really solid dip, but not 2. 

The goal setting criteria we use at Invictus is SMART. We set goals that are sustainable, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive. 

The key word for this member was “measurable.” If we had measured her pull-up as ‘1,’ when in fact it was ‘0,’ or more accurately ‘.85,’ when she achieved this huge milestone of a first pull-up she would have gotten ZERO CREDIT. She would have just been at par, baseline. 

The challenge when setting that baseline is being honest with yourself. If you want a pull-up, but you think of yourself as someone with pull-ups, then uh-oh, cognitive dissonance sets in. 

Sometimes in order to achieve something, you have to admit to yourself that you can’t do it in the first place, and that can feel not-so-good. 

After the member sent me those videos, I responded back with my feedback about her movements and then wrote, “Your goal is 1 pull-up and 2 dips.” 

And you know what? This story has a happy ending. 

I checked in with her about 6 weeks ago, welllll before the 90 days she had set as her timeline. She sent me a video of a full pull-up and two dips. She said she was unsure if the pull-up counted.

The start of the pull-up: a dead hang. The finish: chin over bar. Check and check.