One of the first things I learned, and now teach, in economics is the principal that people face tradeoffs and must choose between alternatives. Each and every day we make several choices that affect everything from our productivity at work, to our relationships, and even our ability to achieve goals.
Some months you feel invincible, every lift is a PR and every WOD you feel great. Other months you may have a vacation planned, an unplanned illness may leave you feeling less than 100% for weeks on end, or you just find yourself deviating from where you thought you’d be at the beginning of the month, but what if you set a goal of hitting a PR lift in February and any/all of the above occurred?
You won’t hit your goal. And maybe that’s ok. Maybe you didn’t fail as much as extend the period of time it will take to succeed. We all have alternatives and must choose those that add the most value at any given time.
When we develop SMART goals, however, we can adjust for the unexpected and potentially shift or offset the burden of alternatives.
What makes a smart goal?
S – Specific – goals need to be specific, it doesn’t matter how a goal will be achieved as much as who will be involved, where it will take place, when it will happen, why you care, and what you are truly trying to accomplish.
M – Measurable – How do we know success if it isn’t well defined? It’s why we all do CrossFit – whether it’s that small black 1# plate we put on the bar or that one extra rep as the time ticks away, we want to be able to measure progress; goals should be no different.
A – Achievable – (Important: This is not the same thing as being infallible.) If you put time in to commit to your goal is it reasonable that you could see success this month, next month or maybe even the one after that?
I’ll focus here because I think it is SUPER important and the area where most people when setting smart goals.
Sometimes class may not program heavy snatches even if your goal is a PR – is it reasonable to make efforts above and beyond class expectations to reach that goal? Alternatively, if you can’t do a strict pull-up it is not reasonable that you will achieve a muscle up (and if you do someone probably should’ve told you not to). The difference between these goals is circumstance and alternatives – if you are committed to classes and don’t want to deviate you may not achieve your goal, if you’re fully commited to your snatch PR and don’t care how many classes you miss to hit it then go for it. If you’re aiming to do something outside of your safe level of movement it should be reconsidered as it is largely unachievable without prerequisite skills (PLEASE talk to your coaches if you think you’re in this camp).
R – Relavant – How does your goal make you a better athlete? Maybe it doesn’t but it makes you a better member of the community (i.e. getting 8 hours of sleep at night so no one experiences that sleep deprived side of you where you yell and hit things…oh just me?); great, as long as it’s relevant to the timeframe and environment you’re well on your way.
T – Timely – Every goal should be set up with a timeframe – this keeps us driving forward without the fallback of ‘I’ll just focus on it next month’. How long do you think it will take to do that first pull-up – 1 month? maybe 2? Great goal! more than 2? maybe there’s an intermediate goal first – a fully controlled negative to a five second count? Swallowing your pride and submitting yourself to a scaled number of negatives in a workout to reinforce strength? Do it. Set your sights small enough to be achieved with a little additional effort over a short time horizon; then set your sights on that pull-up once you’ve checked off some of the small steps leading up to it.
Regardless of your goal you still have choices –
For example – an athlete with a 190# back squat has their sights set on 200# but they also want to run their first half marathon…now we have somewhat conflicting goals. If this athlete squats twice a week or more chasing that elusive 200# what effect will it have on their running and vice versa? No one knows until they try but ultimately you may have to choose which means the most to you.
Goals are a part of everything we do at CrossFit Amoskeag. If you’d like to learn more about our fitness goals set up an appointment and a free trial for one of our new to CrossFit sessions or fill out the form below.