You already know what to do, so why do you not have the results you want?

What is the one thing you want to do in life that would bring you ultimate fulfilment? The thing you would do if money were not an option? 

Most people can come up with this idea quickly. When asked what they need to do to get there, most people can tell you this too, but they are not doing it. Commonly the issue people raise is needing ‘money’, but this is rarely the barrier people think it is. 

Many steps can be taken before money becomes the limiting factor and people tend not to have done the work to calculate the financial requirements to get their dreams off the ground. Outside of some manufacturing, most things can be started in the internet age with little to no money.

The information on starting most things can be found for free on YouTube or across various web pages. Hiring a coach or buying a course can speed the process up with a curated set of steps and feedback, and it is often much cheaper than people think. Multiple courses can be purchased for the same skillset by various experts in a field to provide further information and training to get started with dreams.

Nicolas Cole’s (@Nicolascole77) Four-step mastery framework can be a helpful exercise when starting on this journey:

  1. Do you know the right thing to work on? If not, who do you need to talk to and/or what do you need to read/consume to know?
  2. Do you know the right thing to work on but aren’t doing it? If not, what luxuries do you need to deprive yourself of, what distractions do you need to get rid of, what escapes & coping mechanisms do you need to avoid, what new habits do you need to build etc.?
  3. Are you doing the right thing but could you do it better? If so, who do you need to learn from/surround yourself with, where do you need to live, what community do you need to join, what ‘teacher’ do you need in your life, what habits do you need to improve, what techniques do you need to learn, etc.?
  4. Are you doing the right things as best as you can do them, and are just waiting for time to catch up? If so, optimise for consistency, keep showing up, get the reps in, and focus on falling in love with ‘monotony’ until it’s clear you’ve plateaued-then start back at #1 again.

What is the one thing you should be working towards, and do you know the right thing to work on right now to make it happen? 

Vitality and Wisdom

If you want a long term goal as a direction of travel, you will struggle to find a better one than building vitality and wisdom.

Vitality [ vahy-tal-i-tee ]

noun, plural vi·tal·i·ties.

1. exuberant physical strength or mental vigor: a person of great vitality.

2. capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence:the vitality of an institution.

3. power to live or grow: the vitality of a language.

4. vital force or principle. 

Wisdom [ wiz-duhm ]


1. the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

2. scholarly knowledge or learning: the wisdom of the schools.

3. wise sayings or teachings; precepts.

4. a wise act or saying.


Vitality, or vigour, can be summed up as staying physically young for as long as possible. Someone with vigour has energy, enthusiasm, and ‘aliveness’ and the absence of fatigue, weariness, and exhaustion. Most research attempt to measure it using a Vitality subscale as part of various medical questionnaires that include four questions: 

  • Did you feel full of pep? 
  • Did you have a lot of energy? 
  • Did you feel worn out? 
  • Did you feel tired?

The feelings of energy and aliveness are both physical and mental, linked to self-actualisation, self-esteem and self-motivation. As well as having physical strength and being free from pain, those that see themselves as having vitality also express excitement, enthusiasm, and spontaneity. The subjective element of vitality suggests that it goes much further than being physically healthy and an attitude that can be chosen and practised. 


The traditional interpretation of wisdom from western philosophy related to ‘knowing the truth of things’. For someone to be wise, they must have integrated knowledge, unbiased judgement, ethics, compassion, insight, and self-awareness. Psychologists mainly use self-assessment methods to measure wisdom; these suggest that wisdom is developed through life experience, openness, emotional control, and reflectiveness. The DIKW pyramid from Information theory provides a more objective view of wisdom, listing it at the top of the cognitive hierarchy. Data is processed to create information (the what), cognition is used to turn information into knowledge (the how), and finally, judgement is used to produce wisdom (the why). 

Developing vitality and wisdom

To develop vitality, you need to maintain high energy levels and avoid fatigue. Training consistently with moderation is required and keep high-intensity exhausting sessions that push you towards failure to short blocks once or twice per year. A foundation of strength and mobility is essential that is supplemented by sport and adventure.

To develop wisdom, you need to focus on gaining knowledge, applying it, and then reflecting on your decisions to build better judgement. Charlie Munger suggests starting by learning the various cognitive bias to understand better how you come to conclusions. Naval Ravikant recommends learning the basics of all the hard sciences so you can pick up any book in a library and understand it. Read, do stuff, then try to understand the outcome.

New Year’s health and fitness tests and goals

No party last night means I am fresh to test myself and set some health and fitness targets for the coming year.

The 1-2-3-4 assessments

In his book ‘Can you go,’ Dan John provides a simple 1-2-3-4 assessment he uses with all his clients. As I have just finished one fitness challenge, I thought it would be the perfect time to check in with these to see how I am doing and what I need to focus on for health and longevity. The book is excellent, and the kindle version is currently £3.99 so pick up a copy to learn the details for the assessments and what to do with the results. 

Assessment 1: Stand on one foot

A simple test, stand on one foot for up to 30 seconds. Scoring above 30 seconds is the goal, holding for less than 10 seconds is a sign to visit a doctor for a check-up. 

Result: I achieved 30 seconds on both legs without issue.

Assessment 2: Measurements

Next are two simple body measurements, the first is weight, with over 300lbs being a signal to visit the doctor and dentist for a check-up. The second measurement is the ratio between height and waistline with the target being the waistline at least half the size of height, if not, then body composition is the focus until it is.

  • Measurement 1 – weight: 82.5kg (182lb)
  • Measurement 2 – height and waistline: h: 183cm, w: 91 cm

Assessment 3: Questions

Question one is related to mobility, with being able to sleep with one pillow being the target. Question two and three are to help understand the results of the other assessments.

  • Question 1 – How many pillows does it take for you to be comfortable at night?: One 
  • Question 2 – Do I eat colourful vegetables? I eat a lot of vegetables and a wide variety. I also eat a lot of everything else, particularly sugary treats which explains why I am not leaner. 
  • Question 3 – Do you exercise for a least half an hour each day? I exercise for at least 30 minutes almost every day, for the last year I have run 5-6 days per week and then done mobility and strength on top of this. I choose to have a day off each week for recovery.

Assessment 4: Four tests

The final part of the 1-2-3-4 assessment is four tests. The first is a two-minute plank, with anything less signalling a weak core. The second is based on Claudio Gil Araujo’s sitting-rising test where you attempt to go from standing to sitting on the ground to standing again with no assistance from a hand or knee. The last two are the standing long jump, and a farmers walk. The broad jump’s expected standard is to jump as long as you are tall, so 183cm in my case, but then find your sport’s standards as an additional measure. Brian Mac has published some athletics standards on his website that I will use as a guide. Dan john suggests that you should carry half bodyweight in each hand for the farmer’s walk.

  • Test 1 – Plank: 2 minutes (only just)
  • Test 2 – To the floor and back up again: One knee assisted getting back up (9 out of 10)
  • Test 3 – Standing long jump: 175cm (I think I am limited by technique more than power – I will practice and retest)
  • Test 4 – Farmers walk: 160 meters with 2x 24 kg Kettlebells.

The strength tests

Next is a check-in with Dan John’s strength standards from his book Interventions. I will not list the steps or details in this post but look at them on Dan’s Strength Standards…Sleepless in Seattle post, to learn more, purchase the Intervention book currently £4.99 on kindle. The audiobook is £3.99, and as with all his books, Dan reads it himself.

The standards:

  • Squat movement: Level 5
    • Front squat: 82.5kg (01/01/21)
    • Squat: 100kg (01/01/21) 
  • Press movement: Level 4
    • Bench press: 100kg (01/12/20)
    • One arm overhead press: 32kg Kettlebell (25/12/20)
  • Hip hinge movement Level 4
    • Deadlift: 142.5kg (13/12/20)
  • Pull movement: Level 5
    • Pullups: 13 (10/20)

Sport Specific test

I will split my year in half for endurance racing. I will use the first five months to raise my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) as high as possible in Project 4W/kg. I will use remaining seven months to get faster as a runner, with as much volume as possible to prepare for the Tromso Skyrun in early August and then targeting a fast 10k as the next step on my distance runners journey to end the year. These two goals will be the foundation for attempts at a sub 10-hour Ironman in 2022. 


  • Bike – FTP via Ramp test: 242 watts at 82.5kg (28/12/20)
  • Run – Half Marathon: 1:35:09 (20/12/20)
  • Body composition (01/01/21)
    • Weight: 82.5kg (01/01/21)
    • BMI: 24.9
    • Digital scales body fat: 17.9%

What to work on

  1. Eat much less sugar to get down to a bodyweight of 80kg or lower. My height to waist ratio from the measurements section of the 1-2-3-4 assessments is close to the recommended maximum. Making sure that it does not get larger is essential, and reducing my waistline is suggested. I train a reasonable amount, so I know this is all about diet and reducing the sugar I consume. Getting my body fat down to reduce my weight will also help with all my other fitness goals. I was down to 80kgs during my most intense training period this year, so I know it is very achievable. 
  2. Work on a stronger core by completing the Gymfit level one planking series, ten daily ab wheel rollouts, and proper bracing during all lifts. I was not committed to my ab work during my running training this year. Regular ab work is something I need to commit to if I want to be a faster runner. I barely managed to reach two minutes on the plank test I am falling far short of Jon Albon’s five-minute goal from my running this year.
  3. Practice my standing long jump a minimum of once per week until I can achieve a minimum jump of 216cm. I will be doing many power cleans, squats, and deadlifts over the next six months to help with my power on the bike. With an improvement in strength and power, weight loss, and regular practise to improve technique; I will aim to increase my standing long jump to the mark for an average athlete in the Brain Mac tables.
  4. Purchase 2x 40 kg Kettlebells and work up to a 100m farmer walk with both, a one-arm overhead press with one, and ten double-handed swings every minute for ten minutes. I was limited on the farmer’s walk test by my available weight. Two other challenges I want to achieve this year require a 40kg kettlebell and a future challenge will need two, so I will get two now rather than any other alternative for farmer’s walks. Perhaps the money I save on all that sugar will cover it?  
  5. Squat 120kg for a single, 82.5kg of fifteen reps, Front squat 100kg for a single, and complete level two of the Gymfit single leg squat progression. My strategy to achieving a four Watts per Kilogram Functional Threshold Power this year is to get strong, then powerful, then work on holding power for a longer duration. The front squat target is to bring it in line with my bench press, and the Gymfit goal is as much for the mobility progressions and knee and hip health as it is for balancing the strength of each leg.  
  6. Achieve a double bodyweight deadlift. The second half of the year will be focused on running, and so the strength focus will move from squatting to the deadlift. To make this target, I will continue to work up Andy Bolton’s ladder of heavy kettlebell swings and bring my power clean up to 100kg in line with my bench press. I will also use farmer’s walks and upper back work, such as elevated feet ring rows and weighted pullups to support this goal.
  7. Complete a Ramp test with a calculated FTP of 4 watts per kilogram. I detailed this in a recent post.
  8. Complete a 10k race with a target time of sub 40 minutes. This is the next step in my distance running progression.

Some thoughts

Eight fitness goals is a lot, and some of them are challenging but not out of reach. Some targets will support others, such as getting a strong squat and deadlift will form a solid base to be fast on the bike and run. The year is in two halves, each with their own goals. The first six months focused on the squat and bike FTP and the second half focused on a double bodyweight deadlift and a sub 40 minute 10k run. 

Am I too ambitious? If I achieve all eight targets by this time next year, I will know I did not set the bar high enough for myself. At 37, I am currently a fitter, more rounded, and smarter athlete than I have ever been, and I have used 2020 to achieve a level of strength and endurance that I am proud of. 2021 is a chance to build on this fitness and see what I can do.

Ready, set, go.