A week or so ago a guy at the gym asked me if he could film/photo my entire training routine. It seems he wanted to document and capture everything I did in exactly the order I do it, so he could emulate my practice.
It was very flattering but it was also one of the strangest conversations I've had in quite a while. He said he was passionate about flexibility and that it had come to play a big part in his life.
I told him that copying my routine would be a mistake as it had evolved, and was still evolving, to meet the specific and unique needs of my body and mind. I suggested that maybe the basic building blocks would be helpful, but that in the end the exact structure of the routine was something that he had to discover.
In the meantime I told him that he should come to one of the classes I teach at the gym, since he was a member it would cost him nothing and he could, at the very least, take parts of the class that worked well for him and make them his own.
He said he did not want to do that because it would take years and he was hoping to fast track his results. I told him there is no such thing, you have to do the work, you get nothing that you did not earn. He smiled and said he would think about it, but I knew it was very unlikely I would be seeing him in class.
I've been thinking more on this and how it relates to my own recent struggles. I realised that if you are just chasing or fixating on results you will probably never come to discover the magic of what it is I am really about. So I've been having some trouble with my routine because there were some parts of it that felt painful as I was trying to re-obtain flexibility in an area of my body I had lost it from. It did not feel right, pushing myself in this way but I had this idea in my head of where I should be, and as a result the enjoyment of the practice was slipping. It made it easier to skip a practice here and there because the thought of pain made it something I did not entirely want to do. This in turn made me feel bad because I knew I was never going to get there if I was missing my sessions, and it was making the sessions I did do become more painful, which of course, made me want to do them less and less.
So I changed the routine and restructured it because I remembered the time I loved doing what I do, and to get that back was actually really simple, I just had to let go of the rigid result-oriented thought pattern I was stuck in. In the end, it was only a small change but it made a massive difference. Suddenly it was fun again. Because I'm enjoying it more I find myself doing it more. Today I did two sessions and on my second session I felt incredibly limber and in control of my body. The area I'd been working on felt more open than it has in ages and I did not have to suffer what I call any "negative pain" to get there. Simply put, by changing my routine the joy was back, and I've gone from a negative feedback loop to a positive one.
My conclusion is that sure, set goals, I love goals, but be fluid in how you structure your routine to get there. Recognise if your routine is causing you mental and physical suffering, because as soon as that happens it is not a healthy part of your life anymore and you need to be proactive in finding a better solution. The willingness to change is never easy, and you will probably second guess yourself, but when you do figure it out, without fail I believe it will always turn out to be the best choice you ever made.