The picture worth a thousand words.
The photo couldn’t be any better. An 11-mile obstacle course, the Tough Mudder. A physical and mental challenge. A slight grimace across my face. A dirty, hard-worked body. And the words, “I will” in the background.
My goal when doing my first Mudder wasn’t to run as fast as I could or beat those around me. That’s not what a Tough Mudder is about. My goal was to complete every obstacle on the course with flying colors – and I did. Luckily, the photographer captured the (in my opinion) hardest obstacle to get across (in 2014 – the obstacles each year continue to get more difficult), right behind swinging across water on gymnastics rings.
I talk about process and outcome goals pretty frequently. A process goal – drinking 100 ounces of water per day or lifting weights 4 days per week – is a step you can take to get closer to an outcome goal. An outcome goal may be having 20-inch biceps or weighing what you did in college, just 12 short years ago. Those who master “completing” process goals over and over again while actually learning to enjoy them usually make more progress than those who set a difficult outcome goal and forget about the small steps it takes to get there (the habits).
Since 2016, I’ve taken on a few more challenges. One of them being an 8-hour Tough Mudder. I don’t like endurance, I’ve never liked endurance, but a few friends of mine decided to shoot for something we hadn’t done before – start a race at midnight and run/walk/complete obstacles as far as we can for 8+ hours.
Not even a sushi buffet could get me to walk at a brisk pace within the next few days; my body was wrecked. Aside from brief muscle cramps while hanging upside down 20 some feet above water, the entire experience was exhilerating and fun. I learned a lot over the course of 8 months about training myself for something like this and the injuries that unfortunately can come with it. Limping across that finish line after a real “endurance” event was oh so sweet – but I don’t see 24 hours of mudding happening for me anytime soon.
Process goals are things you can control. They’re easy to track on a frequent and consistent basis, and they inevitably lead to change – like reaching an outcome goal without even fixating on the outcome itself.