SURF - A Journey To Becoming A Fish & Goal setting

Growing up in Buffalo, NY definitely was not the ideal location to live in after becoming obsessed with surfing, but... 

Little did I know back in grade school when my uncle pushed me into my first wave at Wrightsville Beach, NC, that Lake Erie was absolutely capable of producing surfable waves! After discovering this amazing giant body of water in our backyard I made it my duty to immerse myself in it (pun intended!) through Freshwater Surfing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, and Canoeing. I then made a promise to myself that no matter where I relocated, I would always find my way back to the water.

Fast forward 20+ years I now live in Washington, DC - also not known for its surf - but it has a great paddling community and geographically it's centrally located in the eastern coast of the US making it easy to travel north and south.

So, for 2018 I have 4 water related goals and 1 lifting goal:

  1. Get back into swimming
  2. Learn to Free Dive
  3. Get back into SUP racing
  4. Surf this summer
  5. Clean & Jerk 225lbs/102kg and Snatch 185lbs/84kg

This is a great lesson on not only how to improve your surfing without surfing, but also on goal setting. Below is a great article from Precision Nutrition that will literally take you 3-mins - I timed myself, it actually took 3:03:93 and I'm a slow reader! 


Whether you read the article or not I'll give you some of my thoughts based on experience with myself and my clients.

When we initially decide to pursue a goal there's always a lot of excitement and motivation - which is great! The tricky part is maintaining this motivation and following through. Why is this? My guess is most people focus on the outcome goal as opposed to the process/behavior goals (tip: these are explained in the article above). To simplify, outcome goals are what they sound like - they're the end goal. Dreaming to have a particular physique, hit a specific PR in a lift, or finish 1st place in the Graveyard at the Carolina Cup next year - these are all outcome goals - they're sexy, get your heart pumping, create butterflies in your stomach, and we have little control over them! What most people fail to focus on are the controllables = the processes/behaviors/specific steps it takes to reach those goals, and more often than not those steps can be monotonous, mentally & physically draining, and they take time & patience (which I believe is the most difficult part of pursuing goals to the end).

So, what can we do to set ourselves up for success knowing that at some point during the pursuit of our goal we're probably going to want to either take a break or maybe even consider quitting? You need to get organized! I recommend keeping it simple and follow the SMART goal method: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely. I'll use my goals above as an example:

  • GOAL #1: Get Back Into Swimming (Outcome Goal)
    • BEHAVIOR #1: Registered for the Aqua-Bike event of a local triathlon in August. This will give me a timeline and provide extra motivation for me to swim using a more structured program (exact distances, times, intensity).
    • BEHAVIOR #2: I schedule in my phone's calendar my swimming days for the week every Sunday
    • BEHAVIOR #3: I've recruited my coworkers as swim coaches to help hold me accountable and give me feedback on technique. I have 5 coworkers I'm working with and meet with one every 2-weeks (also scheduled a week ahead on my phone's calendar).
  • GOAL #2: Learn To Free Dive (Outcome Goal)
    • BEHAVIOR #1: I invested and bought a free diving mask. I can't use the excuse, "I don't have a mask!".
    • BEHAVIOR #2: I allocate 30-mins a day to static breath work. (Also scheduled a week ahead on my phone's calendar)
    • BEHAVIOR #2: I've recruited a free diving friend to meet with me in the pool 1x a week. (Also scheduled a week ahead on my phone's calendar).
  • GOAL #3: Get Back Into SUP Racing (Outcome Goal)
    • BEHAVIOR #1: Joining a local SUP Race Club starting in June (Capital SUP DC!
    • BEHAVIOR #2: Register for a SUP Race (TBD)
  • GOAL #4: Surf This Summer (Outcome Goal)
    • BEHAVIOR #1: Plan a trip. I have one trip planned to NC in July. How the ocean cooperates will determine my next move!
    • BEHAVIOR #2: Leading up to/during trip in July keep an eye on changes in surf during high/low tide and check the local surf forecast daily:
    • BEHAVIOR #3: Find best breaks closest to where I stay. Fortunately, I have cousins who surf in Wrightsville Beach and I can use them as resources.
  • GOAL #5: C&J 225/102 and Snatch 185/84 (Outcome Goal)
    • BEHAVIOR #1: I recruited a friend back from Buffalo as my coach and to help with programming (3-4x/week training schedule). 
    • BEHAVIOR #2: I record videos of my lifts for instant feedback and to share with my friend to critique.
    • BEHAVIOR #3: Register for a local meet (Aiming for a meet in July TBD).

Looking at the above breakdown of Outcome Goals and Behavior Goals (remember these are the specific steps you take) I think it's safe to say there are 3 universal behaviors that can help with all goals: (1) Having accountability - In my case recruiting friends/coworkers as coaches, (2) Physically scheduling actions/events on an existing/active calendar, and (3) Finding a way to "securely" commit yourself to your goal which is really another form of accountability. This can be a financial commitment (i.e. registering for an event), an emotional commitment (i.e. making a promise with someone you don't want to let down, promising a close friend or relative that you will follow through with your goal), or creating consequences (i.e. If you don't follow through with a behavior goal you can't watch your favorite TV show for a week).


I hope this was all helpful and feel free to contact me anytime via email or instagram!

- Jared