Missing Your Goal

Ben BerryBlog

In December 2015, I set the goal to become a GM in 2016. At the time I was a high-A close to making Master. In Mid-December 2016, sitting at 93% and grasping at straws to try to make the goal happen, I shot a classifier match. Of the six classifiers, one was GM, one was low but counted, and four were too low to count. Embarrassing, right?


Even though I didn’t achieve the goal of GM in 2016, I don’t regret one bit setting it or pursuing it doggedly, because it gave me a sense of purpose. Every daily dry fire session wasn’t a choice between an hour with my fiancee or an hour in solitude. The goal, the big broad sweeping goal, imbued everything I did to further my shooting with a sense of purpose. I wasn’t just dinking around with changing sights or triggers in the garage. I was doing the work to create the conditions for a GM performance.

There’s no doubt it my mind that I would have made different choices and practiced less during 2016 without my goal to make GM in 2016. A number of things happened throughout the year that pulled me away and tempted me to give up or slack off. But I didn’t, because I had the goal.
Just travelling prevented me from being able to practice. In 2016 I spent four separate weeks in California, for business. I spent another week visiting family in Canada, and yet another week on a honeymoon cruise. None of these weeks did I have any time, much less equipment, to do any practice.

I also had two routine, outpatient surgeries that each required at least two weeks off practice to recover. After each recovery break, putting the gear on to practice again was frustrating and humiliating. Things that used to be routine were hard now. The only thing that kept me motivated was the sense of contributing to an important, overarching goal.

As much as having a yearlong goal doesn’t help deciding the day-to-day practice schedule, it did help put a short break from practice in perspective. On the scale of a year, this current setback was just a blip. So swallow your pride, put the gear on, and get to work. (I usually found it took about 3 sessions to get my mojo back and be pretty close to where I was before.)

And no discussion of 2016 would be complete without discussing my wife, but not for the reasons you think. Stephanie Berry was, throughout all this, my most ardent supporter and also unforgiving coach. Somewhere in me I’m wired to not put fun before family but many times she was the one, after dinner was done and the dishes cleaned, reminding me that this part of the night was for dry fire. There was even a classifier match 7 hours away in Pennsylvania that I contemplated going to. But once I decided not to go (it was a huge investment of time for a long shot), I also made the conscious choice not to let her know it was happening. I knew she would try to move heaven and earth to get me there if she found out and I knew that going didn’t warrant it.

So if, dating, and proposing to, and marrying her cost me any practice time, it was not by her request but by my own nature. I am pretty confident, on net, I practiced more with her in my life than I would have otherwise, though.

I don’t think the things that pulled me away from practice were necessarily bad. Especially the weeklong business trips which usually left me more energized to practice when I got home than if I’d kept grinding away. I think these things, if embraced, are not impediments to practicing. But you have to recognize that they’re happening and respond accordingly. I don’t really expect my life to get less busy any time soon, so I think with learning to deal with breaks is a good and necessary skill.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”