You Are the Sum of the Average of Everything You Do

John Clark

Guest Contributor

Strongman, Strength Training


For many athletes, the New Year signifies a time for reflection on the previous twelve months and focus on plans for the year ahead. A review of the progress you wanted at the beginning of the year versus the progress you gained by the end of the year is a good place to start, and can help determine what to achieve over the next 365 days of training.


The Problem With Numbers

The majority of athletes set numbers or competition results as a measure of progress. There are two sides to this tendency. Numbers are specific and measurable and you can tell instantly if you’ve achieved them. But sometimes they can create a feeling of failure if you haven’t quite hit them. The goals and targets you set can sometimes take you away from what you actually intended to achieve.



Let’s put it another way. If you had a deadlift target, a half marathon time, or a number of inches to lose and you didn’t achieve them, was this year a failure? In most circumstances, probably not.


For many athletes, the New Year signifies a time for reflection on the previous


Further Questions

Think back to when you selected your goals for this year. Were they reasonable and achievable in the first place? Many people like the idea of seeing stratospheric progress in short spaces of time, but then they lose motivation when it doesn’t happen.


Success is earned. Sometimes you need a lot of time under the bar to see the weights move even a few kilograms. Don’t aim for a 300kg deadlift if you’re now pulling 180kg. It’s probably going to take a lot longer than a year to reach that goal, assuming you ever achieve it. Consider whether or not your expectations were realistic and achievable before you judge your ability to obtain them.


If you didn’t achieve your achievable predetermined milestones, use them as reference points for learning. Ask yourself the following questions:




  • Why didn’t you make the mark?
  • Was your approach wrong or your mindset not quite right?
  • What can you learn from it to better your approach, performance, and plans for next year?
  • If you did achieve a performance goal, why did it work?
  • Why did the approach you chose see a reward and what could be improved upon?
  • Can you replicate this approach moving forward?


The Real Question

As a coach, the real question I want you to ask is not about success or failure but progress. Have you ended this year in a better physical, mental, educational, or emotional state than last year and learnt from the previous 365 days of lessons? If you can say yes to at least one of those elements, that is progress. You can say this year was a success, regardless of what the trophy cabinet tells you. 


"Instead of stressing over the minute details or focusing on the huge goals ahead, take a step back. Consider the average of what you do and its relationship to your success."

Many of my clients have asked me to help them shape their goals for next year. My answer annoys them as it’s quite simple: your goal should be to progress and be better this time next year than you are now. Numbers and targets are useful and should always be in your mind as a stretch goal to guide you. But don’t get caught up in the numbers and miss the point. Whilst you write your programmes, assess your milestones, and monitor your progress, consider this:


Your results equal the average of everything you think, say, and do. No single session results in a PB. No single meal results in a six pack. Instead of stressing over the minute details or focusing on the huge goals ahead, take a step back. Consider the average of what you do and its relationship to your success.


Training, nutrition, training partners, and support networks all play a role in increasing the total of the marginal gains to your training and your results. If you can increase your average training work rate and intensity, as well as nutrition, hydration, and recovery by just 1 percent each, you will not only progress, but likely succeed and get the results you want.


Your Strategy for the Next 365 Days

  1. Set your goals. Make them realistic and work towards them whilst using the lessons of this year to guide you.
  2. Achieve the results you want. Earn your results by putting in the hours, the work, and the commitment.
  3. Raise your overall standards of training, nutrition, and mindset.
  4. Never expect it all to happen in one good session. Likewise, don’t think you’re failing if you had one bad day of food or training.
  5. Don’t fall into the trap of focusing on one little part of training. Remember above all else:


We are the sum of the average of everything we do.

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Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.

Photo 2 courtesy of Fit3Sixty.

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