“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn
Goal setting is an incredibly important task but is not widely practiced, which isn’t at all surprising; it’s daunting, it can seem like a big messy project and unless you’ve actually read up on how to do it effectively, it’s really hard to know what an effective process looks like. What are the “right” goals? What’s the best time horizon? How should I be measuring? All questions that are important, and pretty difficult to understand without a framework for looking at them. My goal with this post is to help you start to think about your “why” as it pertains to CrossFit and fitness and to give you a framework to start putting some order and some process around it.
Goal setting is incredibly effective and can provide clarity and focus not only for the future but also for the present. The process provides structure and direction when working towards a stated purpose (hint: that really important); without knowing WHY you’re doing this, and without having any structure around the process, you’re not going to know where you’re going or how you’re getting there. It would be a little like knowing that you need to eat healthy meals, but you don’t know which foods and your next step is “thinking about going to the grocery store.”
Goal setting also provides motivation and can help you organize your time and resources so that you can make the most of your efforts. I’d also suggest that a good rule of thumb is to not set more goals at once than you can count on one hand – the clearer the picture and the less cluttered the path, the more likely you’ll get there. Five at the most, two to three is ideal. Goals should also be as specific as possible because that’s how we’ll measure progress and develop a plan to get there. “I want to get fit” isn’t a goal for our purposes because there’s not really a way to measure it. “I want to get one strict handstand push-up before the end of July” is more like what we want.
So with all that as background, let’s look at the key building blocks we’ll use for effective goal-setting.
1. Specific: We mentioned this above – goals need to be as specific as possible.
a. Too broad: I want to get stronger
b. Specific: I want to increase my clean/jerk by 20#
2. Measurable: Again, we want to focus on goals that we can actually measure. “I want to get better at gymnastics,” “I want to increase my flexibility” are too general to be useful.
a. Not useful: I want to look good naked
b. Specific: I want to lose 5% body fat
3. Achievable: This can get a little complicated around the edges (mostly due to issues around self-limiting beliefs), but generally let’s make sure goals are challenging but definitely achievable in a defined period of time. If you find yourself wrestling a little bit with this part, talk to a coach about it and we’ll be happy to help you think through it.
4. Relevant: If your vision for this year or the next few years centers on, say, competing at an area competition in the Rx class, you’ll have a handful of goals specific to addressing the holes in your skillset and probably diet that you’ll need to improve in order to do so. It’s incredibly important to make sure your goals are in line with your vision of yourself, which is sometimes easier to say than it is to do. Again – if you need help thinking this through, ask one of the coaches and we’ll sit down with you and talk through it.
5. Time-bound. Get specific about the date for your goal, and mark it on the calendar – the exact day – not the month, not the year.
Lastly, write it all down – the goals, the plan, the steps, the timing – and then pin it up somewhere you can see it, regularly – your bathroom mirror, your desk at work, somewhere in the box. I’d also suggest telling at least a few people at the box what you’re up to; letting other people in on your plan creates both a good support network and also heightens the degree of accountability (“So, how’s it going with that 25’ handstand walk by July 31?” “Ummm, yeah, guess I’ll get back on that…”). Especially tell your coaches – we’re always more than happy to talk about goals, help you understand the right steps and process, and provide encouragement during those dark days where you feel like you’re not making progress (and there will be those days, trust me).