Goals 105: What Now? | Carl Raghavan

Goals 105: What Now?

by Carl Raghavan, SSC | January 02, 2024

At long last, the day has arrived. You stand there overwhelmed with
pride at how strong you’ve become. After conquering your strength
goals, you ask yourself: What now?

I’ve had a lot of
time to reflect on my own personal motivations and the drive behind
my goals, and they may help bring some clarity to why you wanted to
get stronger too. My motivation was fueled by a deep-rooted chip on
my shoulder after feeling overlooked, devalued and unworthy of love,
and being bullied.

For a long time, I was
the little guy. Anyone who has ever been weak or small in stature
will know this feeling. It sucks, and for some, it lights a hungry
flame. I call it becoming a bad motherfucker who doesn’t take shit
from anyone (except my fiancée, Caroline. She always wins – happy
wife, happy life). Who would have thought that adding weight to a
barbell, 5 lb per workout, and being 265 lb would make the world view
me with more respect than I was accustomed to when I was 155 lb?
Thanks again to Uncle Rip and his advice. Lots of people ask, but
most aren’t interested in the answer: Get really fucking strong and
gain some weight.

In my quest to attain
the big numbers I deemed important for my training, I discovered the
key to my own happiness. I needed progress – constant evolution.
Yet hitting my lifetime goals, like squatting 500 lb and deadlifting
600 lb, has triggered a flood of nostalgia and an unexpected sense of
anti-climax. Those numbers were my everything, even bringing me close
to tears. But now, as the adrenaline high falls and the euphoric dust
settles, I find myself questioning the emptiness that followed.

It wasn’t that I didn’t
want those achievements; it was that I got so fixated on the
that I forgot the joy of the process.

I realized my true goal
isn’t hitting a number but being as physically strong as possible.
Numbers were just markers on my path, guiding me to my limits. I
needed them to verify the progress and reassure my conscious mind I
was heading in the right direction. They were never going to be my
final destination. Corny as it sounds, it’s about the journey.
Appreciation and validation along the way are nice, so numbers are
part of the roadmap, but they’re not the summit. The top of one
mountain is the bottom of the next.

Hitting my dream
numbers was a profound experience. Pressing 300 lb, squatting 500 lb,
deadlifting 600 lb – they were goals etched into my soul. Yet, as I
reflect on the years of training and dedication, I can’t escape the
feeling that now that I’ve arrived, the journey seemed to end rather
abruptly. It’s akin to being strapped to a nuclear missile for a
decade, wondering if it would ever hit the target. When it finally
does, there’s a mix of elation and uncertainty: “What now?”

Numbers are a vital
metric in pursuing a strength goal, but be careful what you wish for.
Dreams sometimes do come true, and dealing with the fallout of that
requires preparation. How will you respond? Will you rise to even
higher ground you didn’t think was possible, or will you fade into
the “I used to do that when I was your age” narrative?

Along the way, my
mentality shifted as I got within arm’s reach of my goals, creeping
from a process-driven into an outcome-fixated mindset. The numbers
subtly altered my drive, momentarily obscuring my love for training
itself. It led me to question myself: After my dream numbers were
met, what would I do next? Would I hang up my lifting shoes, set a
bigger goal, or would I simply feel lost for the next 3 to 6 months?

I admit, after
squatting 500 lb, I felt lost. It affected my training routine and
dampened my hunger for the process. I almost didn’t care. But amid
this uncertainty, there was a realization – it’s not about the
numbers; it’s about the perpetual steps towards progress. It’s
about being on a path.

I would be lying if I
didn’t tell you that I’m licking my chops at the thought of one
day reaching a 400/500/600/700 lb press, bench, squat, deadlift. That
would be insane – more than I ever could have hoped for. Well, that
and world peace, of course – which seems only marginally less
attainable. As I become a more well-versed player in the game that is
strength, I know all too well that progress is not linear at this
stage in my strength development. Still, until my useful years run
out, you can bet I’ll have it in my sights. And it’s my habits
that will be my roadmap to get me there.

The “what now”
factor is universal, a moment of introspection after achieving
something monumental. My experiences have taught me that progress is
not just about reaching a destination; it’s a continuous, lifelong
process. That’s my true “why” – my secret to happiness. If
you’ve genuinely been bitten by the Iron Bug, you already know the
truth about why you keep training. It’s that whisper in your ear:
You’ll never be strong enough.

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