"Realistic" Timelines: Patience in an Impatient World

The season of resolutions and goal setting is upon us.

I say that with neither excitement nor dread, but grounded in the reality that only 8% of individuals will stick to their resolutions. So while every situation is unique, there are common patterns that derail people from truly seeing progress.

The most common denominator? Unrealistic expectations.

And that just happens to be something I'm personally familiar with.

 I may not have tamed the Beast, but I did get this awesome photo!

I may not have tamed the Beast, but I did get this awesome photo!

Admittedly, this is not an area I've written much about - besides my post on failing at the Beast Tamer Challenge in 2016. For those unfamiliar with my defeat at the hands of a kettlebell, I signed up four months prior to the event assuming I'd complete all three elements: a strict press, pistol (single leg squat), and strict pull-up, all with the 48 kg (106 lbs) kettlebell.

When I registered I could perform the pistol, but wasn't able to perform the press or pull-up. Didn't matter, I thought. I'd do it all. After all, I'm Alex Tanskey.

And yes, it hurts when you come crashing down to reality.

I was unable to complete the press and narrowly (oh, so narrowly) missed the pull-up during the challenge. Of course I did. I hadn't completed either in my training, and wishing harder didn't make it come any faster.

But that's not the only time I've failed to reach a goal in a specific timeframe. Below is a snapshot of the 6 biggest goals I've set for myself over the past 6 years. I've noted when I achieved it, but more importantly, when I officially set these goals. You'll notice a trend:


As you can tell, I like deadlifts. The fact that 50% of my goals are deadlift-related probably tells you exactly how I've trained for the past 6 years.

But the other trend? That every goal took over a year, and for some, a few years more. All of this is to say, when you set a goal - weight loss, strength, physique, etc. - don't be surprised if it takes 2-3 times longer than you initially predicted. Because if the goal is significant enough (and really, what's the point of having an insignificant goal), does it really matter?

It took me a long time to figure out that the true path to finding happiness in pursuing your goals is exactly that: the pursuit. Find small, daily, weekly victories in pursuit of your much larger, overall goal. It's a path of fulfillment - filled with failure, frustration, and success. It's where learning, stories, and experiences are born. It forces you to operate on your own timeline, not anyone else's.

Because when you hit your eventual destination, it's only a matter of time before you blink, take a breath, and say those magic words:

"Well, what's next?"

And sometimes that's the hardest question of all.