As a bodybuilder and writer, one of the most important tasks that I can do is to set goals. Goal setting is a critical act, because it sets the tone, vision, direction and spirit of a training regimen. As a bodybuilder, the motto that I have always strived to live by is: I will always be improving. I will work my smartest at maximal effort to actualize my potential.
Over the years, these words have been my inspiration in difficult times, and have served to give me clarity and focus in times of calm.
Those words encompass my commitment to a straightforward training style that emphasizes quality, intelligence and consistency. Those words embody the bodybuilding lifestyle that is lived by millions around the world every day.
Do I always live those words to their fullest? No. But I do strive to live them as fully as possible. To myself, I owe that.
As a bodybuilder for the past seven years, and a writer for the past three, I have come to realize that there is never a shortage of people (anonymous or otherwise) who are more than ready to offer you free advice. Sometimes the advice is well-intentioned, and other times it is malicious. Most times, the advice is wrong because it is based on a counter-productive mindset focused on a competitive ego-clash with others.
As a young science on the verge of revolution, in bodybuilding there are already self-appointed experts saying that if one wishes to bodybuild well, this or that training system or strategy is superior to all others. To be successful, these know-it-alls claim, one must take steroids, use only certain supplements, or pay attention to every posting on the bodybuilding web-boards (regardless of the verbal diarrhea factor).
To follow the advice of these mental vagrants would be a terrible mistake.
It would be a mistake because bodybuilding is a lifestyle based on the principles of sound science and healthy living; not on the advice of a few who workout for the sole purpose of scoring with the town pump, or with the well-known cougar down at the bar after buying old whiskey-face a $2.00 draft beer.
The reason that I write these things is because the self-appointed experts and critics will always come out of the woodwork when you take a stand and make it known exactly what you are going to do. So long as you remain wishy-washy in your goals and go along with the crowd, the pundits take a back seat because you remain part of the clan, directionless and impotent to change in the face of necessity, like them.
These less enlightened critics will take pot-shots from the peanut gallery and will try to get you to fall into the trap of comparing your self-worth against the self-worth of others. This kind of childs' game is akin to the behaviour of a concert goer with the worst tickets in the house: they figure that if they scream their message loudly enough they will convince even the lowest amongst their kind that their opinions actually matter. Well, here is the news: their opinions don't matter.
The critics may criticize, but being a bodybuilder means making hard choices so that you can emerge from your workouts with a better physique and personality. It means working hard and staying focused no matter what the critics say, and no matter who they may be.
I have always lived my life according to the idea that "positive works, negative does not." So, to those of you who have taken to achieving your goals through bodybuilding, I offer the following advice:
Be absolutely clear about what you want to achieve. Settle for nothing less than what you want. No compromises, no mushy language, no planning to fail. Once you know what you want, pay the price to get it. If you can keep things this simple, success will always be yours.
When you know what you want, move quickly to claim it.
Decision is real only if it produces change. If you do not change your behaviour as a result of a choice, then you are merely playing games and going through the motions. Chances are, if you decide and delay action, you will not act. The power of destiny, of decision and of success comes from explosive and immediate action. Procrastination will only weaken your resolve and waste your potential for success.
When you do move to demand change, some people may move to tell you to stay the same or proceed more slowly. "Do not be so extreme" or "Be careful!" they may say. These are common phrases uttered by those opposed to changing the status quo. But as a bodybuilder, it is important to recognize that you demand action and results - and most importantly, you demand them NOW.
Ignore the advice of the self-appointed fanatics and authorities that claim to know everything. These people will always tell you why your dream can not be done, or why it is "impossible." Most of these so-called experts are experts in mediocrity and stagnation, not in success and evolution. Ignore them. And you can take whatever advice you find on the bodybuilding web-boards and use it to line your cats litter box, because that's all it will ever be good for.
Being a bodybuilder means trusting your instincts, and living your life in a manner that is consistently professional.
Question everything that you read, see or hear. As a bodybuilder you must make informed decisions based on the final word as given by substantial anecdote or science. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle about the body AND mind. You must be consummately intelligent.
Be willing to try new methods and observe the results. Be willing to take sensible risks. Find out what works for you and what does not. Be an applied scientist, and when you find something that you know works for your physique, make it your own truth. When someone comes along and tries to rain on your parade, stick to the course and dismiss them.
Do not become caught up on the child's game of comparing yourself to others. Bodybuilding is an individual experience, based on being a better person today than you were yesterday. Success is measured in minutes, not years. It is about evolution of mind and body. It is a transformative practice. If you focus on exceeding your best instead of someone else's best, you will be rewarded by the lifestyle.
Maintain your focus. Develop tunnel vision on the goal, and do not allow nay-sayers, crack-pots with an axe to grind, or self-appointed experts to distract you from your purpose. There will always be cynics and critics who would revel in your failure, just so they could say "I told you so." Do not acknowledge these cheap people, or their worthless words.
If you stay true to yourself, trust your instincts and take decisive, determined action, bodybuilding will offer you riches and successes beyond your imagination. It will also leave the critics frustrated. And isn't that the point?
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Copyright © Clayton South, 2004 All rights reserved.
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