When Setting Goals, Quit the Close-Up and Think Big Picture

Goals are pretty fucking neat, if you ask me. They give us something to strive for in our lives. Certain goals are often the reason we get out of bed every morning, or stay up late working overtime when we should be sleeping or eating.

In all aspects of our lives, we set goals.

Perhaps the goal is career related: the pursuit of a new job or, more importantly, your DREAM JOB…

“If I’m just on Broadway, I’ll have money and prestige and friends, and I’ll be happy.”

Perhaps the goal is a body image goal:

“If I just lose five pounds, I’ll be more attractive than I’ve ever been, I’ll have money and prestige and I’ll be happy.”

Or your goal could be fitness related:

“If I just deadlift double my bodyweight, I’ll be strong as hell, I’ll have money, prestige and I’ll be happy.”

These are examples from my own life. By all means, insert any personal goal above.

The Chase!

Once the goal is realized, we set on the pursuit. The hunt.

And we begin to learn the hard way, the more a goal eludes us, the more we WANT it. We need it. We live for it. And it still is just out of reach. We chase this thing with all of our instincts and talents and we CAN’T GET IT.

The five pounds stays on, the callback doesn’t come through, the deadlift stalls at 255, and the process of practicing the goal becomes DRUDGERY.

When we don’t achieve these things that we have defined as gateways to our happiness, we begin to question ourselves. We doubt our talents, our choices in life, our very foundation.

We become so focused on attaining that one thing we’ve said we were going to do, that now we don’t have time for anything else. No family, no fun, no sleep, or self-care. Everything becomes that GOAL. You gotta get it. Your happiness depends on it. And until you get it, everyone else stay out of the way, motherfucker. I call this mindset the Close Up.

Ready For Your Close Up?

Now, as we all know, I’m a HUGE movie nerd. I was a film minor in college, so there.

Mentally, when you’re in the Close Up, it’s just like a close up shot in a movie. But instead of your favorite actor’s face up on the screen, it’s a Close Up of your goal on the back of your eyelids.

It’s right there, like Norma fucking Desmond or some shit… your goal is 100 feet high, and you are able to see with crystalline clarity every flaw, every mistake, every FAILURE in the pursuit of that elusive sumbitch.

Close Up mentality in the pursuit of a goal can be a time for self-reflection, but more often than not, it can also be DEVASTATING. The Close Up is when we start to think of giving up.

Scene Change = Game Change

This is when we MUST change the scene. We don’t abandon the goal itself, we just glance in a different direction. In film, what is the opposite of a Close Up? A panoramic shot!

We need to pull the camera back, and see the entire scene. Get a look at the bigger picture.  Only then can we truly measure our success.

I will admit going from a Close Up to Panoramic view of your goal can be tough to do on your own. To truly and effectively reset the shot, it’s best to have an outside pair of eyes. A COACH!!!  Yay!

A great coach is like the Director of Photography on a movie. He/she knows their way around the project and the equipment, and they can often provide a much-needed outside perspective.

Let’s take a look at our examples from above with both Close Up and Panoramic shots.

What Looks Different in Panoramic?

GOAL: “If I just get this job, I’ll have money and prestige and friends, and I’ll be happy.”

CLOSE UP: I’ve been applying for MONTHS, I have tons of interviews, but never book the job.  I must be untalented, worthless, and I’ll never amount to anything.”

COACH / PANORAMIC:  You have been interviewing for MONTHS, and you’ve gotten better than ever on being confident in the room. You  have met and impressed several prominent players in the industry and you are consistent in the pursuit of your passion. Now, you need to respect your own integrity and determination.

GOAL: “If I just lose five pounds, I’ll be more attractive than I’ve even been, I’ll have money and prestige and I’ll be happy.”

CLOSE UP: I hate the way my body looks. I’ve tried everything to get back to my dream weight of X. I can’t stop weighing myself, and every time the number goes up, I want to die.

COACH / PANORAMIC: If you hate the way your body looks, there are more than likely deeper issues at play here than five pounds. I would ask you to examine what the pursuit of those five pounds is costing you in family or friend time. You’re so focused on working out and eating right, that you’re not allowing yourself any laxity or fun with your loved ones. First step, hide that scale. Second, let’s find some options for you so you can enjoy time with your family and friends without worrying about your weight.

GOAL:  “If I just deadlift double my bodyweight, I’ll be strong as hell, I’ll have money, prestige and I’ll be happy.”

CLOSE UP: I’ve been going to the gym for months and months, and I cannot get this fucking weight up. I haven’t been able to lift more than X in two months and I feel weak, like I’ll never achieve what I set out to do.

COACH / PANORAMIC: Your consistency at the gym has never been this solid. You’ve practiced your deadlift so much, you’re basically an expert, and you have a nice group of regular gym friends because you’re there so often. Also, as a side effect of all that deadlifting, you’ve gained lean muscle, lost that extra flab you were worried about, and got that job you wanted!  SUCCESS!!

In summary, dear reader, when you’re in hot pursuit of that Big-Time Goal and your focus starts to go into Close Up, take a minute and do what Everett Ulysses McGill says…

“Pull the shot back into Panoramic, and get a look at that big picture!”


Geoff Hemingway is a Ninja Trainer and the Class Experience Manager at Mark Fisher Fitness. He’s also known as Mr. Wonderful because he’s as sweet as he is handsome. His fitness certifications include NASM CPT, SFG Level 2, CFSC, and Daniel John Black Belt. When he’s not forging Ninjas in the Fires of Hell’s Kitchen, he’s probably spending time with his sexy and talented wife Rose, searching for snacks with his handsome dog Ernie, or watching cartoons.


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