Setting Goals and Unrealistic Expectations

Setting Goals and Unrealistic Expectations

-Matthew Cavalier


We’re about a week into the new year, and I’m sure many of you have set some new goals that you want to accomplish this year. Some of you probably call them new year resolutions; others just have a list of objectives they want to accomplish. Setting goals is a great thing to do in the gym and in life, but this blog is about training so we’re just going to talk about the importance of setting goals and how to manage the expectations in the context of training. For example, my goal this year is to be prepared for Alabama’s Strongest Man 10 in August. For many competitors in the southeast region, that event is a pretty big event, and to seriously be competitive in that event would be a significant accomplishment for me. How I get to that point is laid out in a plan that I have formulated for myself and make adjustments as needed.


Goals are Important 

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but setting goals really is important. If you’re the type of person who likes to push yourself and challenge yourself, then it’s important to set some kind of bench mark or milestone to strive for. The goal can really be anything. You might be someone who wants to squat 400 pounds this year. You may be someone who wants to compete in their first event, or you could be someone who wants to lose weight. Everyone is different and has their own path to follow. Any and all goals are worth working for, and realizing what your goals are gives you that something to work towards. It gives meaning to what you're doing everyday. There has to be a point to all the hours you spend in the gym, all the money spent on equipment and all the injuries and misery you might put yourself through. When you have something to accomplish, it encourages discipline and good decision making. The design of the training program will matter, what you eat will matter, how much sleep you get will matter and what you do outside of the gym will matter. Every decision you make will have a direct impact on whether or not you will bring yourself closer to realizing your goal or distancing yourself from it. The more decisions you make that help you move toward your goals will help create structure and organization for yourself. For example, if you want to lose weight, you aren’t going to go home and eat a tub of ice cream and drink a twelve pack of beer. Obviously, to lose weight those are things you cannot do. You’re going to eat protein and vegetables. You’re going to drink water and cut out crappy snacks. When you have something to work for, you are going to do what you have to do to realize it.

Unrealistic Expectations


Now that you’ve set some goals for yourself, it’s important to understand whether or not those goals are actually realistic. Sometimes, people like to bite off more than they  can chew, and they get discouraged, overwhelmed and give up. Any significant change or big challenge will take time and effort. Personally, I think it’s better to set yourself a series of smaller goals or objectives that eventually lead to the larger, overarching goal. For example, if your goal is to squat 400 pounds but your best squat right now is only 185, then you have to understand that will take a lot of time, effort and planning. For a lot of people, the path to a 400 pound squat could be very overwhelming. What if the goal was a little smaller, like 225? A forty pound jump is much easier to grasp. Then when 225 is met, move the goal to 255. Then 275, so on and so forth. It would probably be much easier for someone to stay committed in that fashion. You might think that goal is a little trivial, and that might be true. How about something larger. Let’s say you're someone who has the dream of becoming a professional strongman or a world class powerlifter. You could be someone who wants to make it to the Crossfit Games and have your face all over ESPN. Firstly, we have to recognize that very few people get to reach those heights. I don’t mean to discourage any of you, but that is just a fact. If you are, however, someone who really thinks they have what it takes to excel at the highest level, there is something you need to understand. Everything has a price. To be someone who can compete at the professional level, you need to be all in. What do I mean by “all in?” There is no sacrifice you’re not willing to make to get there. You’re willing to sacrifice time with your friends and family, and you’re willing to sacrifice your own health and well being. Nothing else would matter. Nothing else would have meaning. To be someone who really wants to find themselves at the top of the mountain, you will have to do a lot of things that may seem unpleasant. Sure, that might be an extreme example and really only apply to a few, but the general idea applies to all of us. Everything we want to accomplish for ourselves has a price. Whether it be money, time, relationships or our own wellbeing, there is a price. We have to ask ourselves whether or not the trade off is worth it. For someone who wants to squat 400 pounds, that will require hard work and time. Someone who wants to lose weight will have to make changes to what they eat. To make it personal for myself in regards to my goal to be competitive at Alabama’s Strongest, there is a price I have to pay. I have to get up every morning at 4:30 and train. I have to make sure I’m eating correctly to fuel my training. I have to hone my skill set and do what I can to be technically proficient. There are some things I am not willing to trade off. I don’t want to compromise my job. I don’t want to strain my relationship with my wife and my daughter. I don’t want to shrug off my responsibilities as a man. I understand that I won’t be someone who can compete at a professional level, and that’s okay. It’s okay to set some big goals for yourself, but not compromise on a set of principles to get there. We all have limitations in our ability and willingness to walk down a particular path. But even within a set of rules, it’s possible to see how far we can go. What’s the best version of ourselves we can be? Even if we fall short of what we intended to accomplish, how close can we get?

If you’re looking for a place to reach your own personal fitness or competitive goals, check out the Atlas Strength Shop. Send an email to for your next visit. We also have a new website with our own apparel line and information about our programming and coaching services. Vist to check them out. Be sure to like our Facebook page, here, and follow us on Instagram, here. Do you need a high quality energy supplement that won’t leave you with that crashing feeling? Check out veteran owned and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH at checkout to get 20% off of your order. If you need a new mouthguard to protect your teeth, checkout and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH to get 20% off of your own custom molded and custom designed mouthguard.


On April 23, 2022, the Atlas Strength Shop will be hosting the first ever Louisiana’s Strongest Man/Woman. If you want to test your mettle, claim Louisiana’s Strongest title and help push the strongman movement in Louisiana, checkout for all registration information. Don’t forget to take advantage of the early bird pricing.


“The fears we don’t face become our limits.”