You may remember that in early November, I set a goal. I was going to score 28 points on Crossfit’s “How Fit Are You?” challenge. To refresh your memory (which is surely unnecessary, as I’m sure you have detailed notes everywhere about every aspect of my life and work), here are the descriptions of the tests that make up the challenge, and what I wanted to do on each:
Test #1: Maximum bench press immediately followed by maximal pullups
GOAL: 8 points, which would be max bench press x max pullup reps equal to more than 8000.
Test #2: 15 clean and jerks at a fixed weight without putting the bar down or resting it on the floor
GOAL: 12 points, which would be using 160 pounds for the 15 non-stop reps.
Test #3: Maximal Tabata squats followed by max muscle-ups in 4 minutes
GOAL: 0 points, but one muscle-up. (There’s no way I was going to reach even the lowest scoring level.)
Test #4: Max deadlift followed immediately by maximal handstand pushups
GOAL: 4 points, which would be deadlift max x HSPU max reps equal to more than 3500.
Test #5: Run 800 meters (1/2 mile), then do 21 thrusters (a front squat combined with a push press), then do 21 L-pullups (pullups with your legs in front of you)
GOAL: 4 points, which would be finishing the above inside of six minutes.
So I trained for this. I worked on aspects of each test and the tests themselves for two and a half months, knowing that I had promised to do the thing around January 15th. For a while I was goaded along by competition in the challenge by Craig from Bloomverse, but then he wussed out because he decided that caring for a new child was in some way more important than an internet fitness challenge with someone he didn’t actually know.
Time passed, and my deadline loomed. Then, this week, I did the tests — five tests in five days in a row, in the order above, as prescribed.
And I scored 8 points.
How to fail, Truant style
Get this: I don’t care that I scored 8 points. And do you know why? Because I scored 8 points. And do you know how many points I would have scored if I hadn’t set the a goal to score 28, and then hadn’t trained for or taken the challenge at all? I’m thinking zero.
I don’t care because the goal made me train, and stretch, and improve. I grew further than I would have if I hadn’t been striving for something, if I hadn’t felt a positive “push” moving me forward.
You see, there’s more to the story.
The challenge is scored differently for each of the five tests. But in each, if you reach a certain threshold, you get four points. If you reach the next threshold, you get eight. The next is 12, then 16, then 20. If you’ve never tried Crossfit, it also wouldn’t be obvious to you that a 20 on any given test is almost unattainable, and a 20 on more than one test would only be possible by Superman if he found a good supply of crystal meth.
So while 8 sounds not so fantastic, it’s also not terrible. Specifically, here’s what I did.
Test #1: For how long I’ve been training, I’m a hideous bench-presser. I got a max of 240 pounds. I then did 22 pullups. Multiply them together and that’s 5280. You need 6000 to get four points. So I got a zero.
Test #2: This was the only one I scored on. I did a 160-lb clean and jerk 11 times without setting the bar down. I would need 15 reps at 160 to get 12 points. But because 15 reps at 135 is the low end of the 8-point bracket and because I’d done 150 lbs. a few weeks prior, I gave myself 8 points.
Test #3: I still can’t do even one muscle-up. I scored 16 on the Tabata squats. Those two multiplied together have to be 180 points to score a 4, and I got 0 x 16 = 0. Obviously room for improvement here.
Test #4: I just missed a 475 pound deadlift, so I settled for the rep at 445 that I had done earlier. I then did 6 handstand pushups, which, multiplied with the 445 deadlift, totals 2970. I needed 3500 to get 4 points.
Test #5: I could do the components of this test, with rest between, in under 6 minutes total. However, it fell apart when I put it all together. I needed under 6 minutes to get 4 points, and it took me 7:13.
If you don’t give a shit about weightlifting or fitness and are just looking for the bullet points of why I’m still happy with my monumental failure on this goal, here they are:
1. My score of 8 is, despite appearances, actually a respectable score.
2. My scores on tests #1, #4, and maaaaybe #5 represent “high zeroes,” and my score on test #2 represents a “high eight.”
And most importantly,
3. Even though the “points” score doesn’t reflect it, I improved on each and every one of those. Each and every one. (Except for 3, but 3 sucks anyway.)
See, the purpose of a goal isn’t to get the goal. The purpose of a goal is to make us stretch, to force us out of our comfort zone, to cause us to get better at something.
Several times now, I’ve made the goal to have a million dollars in the bank by such-and-such an age. I haven’t accomplished that goal even one of those several times, but I keep making more and more money, and doing better and better in my business. (Just don’t check my bank balance to verify this. Despite my million-dollar goal, I currently have in the neighborhood of zero dollars saved thanks to my terrible real estate investments. Although, I did find a quarter in the couch the other day.)
But where would I be without the goal to make the million dollars? And where would I be without the goal to score 28 points on the HFAY test? Well, I don’t know exactly, but I can give you a simple answer that I’ll guarantee is qualitatively true:
I’d be poorer. I’d be fatter.
We get hung up on goals. We think that if we don’t get the object of the goal, that the goal wasn’t worth making — but that’s not true. The goal made you stretch. And, by the way, the failure to achieve the goal forced you to accept that things don’t always work out perfectly, but that if you’ll just keep working and keep trying, they’ll eventually work out better than they would have if you’d have given up.
So here’s the thing. Here’s my new goal.
If I had cranked out just three more pullups on test #1, four more reps on test #2, two more HSPUs on test #4, and had trimmed 1:13 off of test #5, I would have scored 24 points instead of 8. That’s how close I was.
So by June 1, I’m going to do that, and a bit more. I’ll go one level higher on the bench press/pullups test and the deadlift/HSPU test, for a grand total of 32 points.
Do you hear that Craig from Bloomverse? There’s a new goal afoot, and I doubt you can pump out another excuse child quickly enough to avoid running for this one.