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The Proper Way to Set and Achieve Goals

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There is a rule in business that if you are not growing, you are dying.  For people, the same rule applies, but the threat of dying is not a literal one.  Instead, dying is in a sense staying stagnant, not developing, or becoming too routine.  While CrossFit appeals to many people in many different walks of life, there is one common characteristic, CrossFitters want to “grow” as people and become better versions of themselves.  Helping people grow in all aspects of life is one of the Core Values of Industrial Athletics.  However, simply saying we want to grow as humans is only the first step.  We must have goals.  We must set goals and work to achieve those goals on a regular basis.  Once we achieve a goal, we must set a new one so we are constantly developing.  At the same time, we must be mindful that the “growth” we are seeking is not in the achievement, but in the process of achievement.  As such, there is a right way and a wrong way to set goals.  Through the following steps, you will set goals, achieve them, and grow along the way.

First, pick your end result and a deadline.  For this example, we will keep it close to the gym, the goal is to get stronger in our snatch.  Unfortunately, this goal is abstract and unachievable.  What does it mean to “get stronger?”  When do I know whether I have achieved my goal?  Instead, rewrite your result to be something measurable:  “I want to add 10 lbs to my snatch in the next 3 months.”

Next, determine how to track progress.  You need at least 3 ways to track your progress.  For our example, what are 3 things we can work on related to snatching that will help us add 10 lbs to our snatch?  These are progress goals.

  1. Increase my overhead squat by 5 lbs.
  2. Learn to catch a snatch balance below parallel.
  3. Develop the skill of extending my hips fully without bending my elbows.

This is where the magic happens.  Working on your progress goals is where you learn and develop as a person.  Adding 10 lbs to a snatch can happen over time by simply developing the raw strength to power a barbell over your head.  However, the skills you will learn and develop through your progress goals will set you up to achieve a lot more in the long run.

Finally, set your daily/weekly actions and tasks.  You need to set what actions you will take on a daily and weekly basis that will help you achieve your progress goals and will allow you to achieve your result.

  1. I will commit to overhead squatting with at least 80% of my 1 rep max on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  2. On Wednesdays, I will practice the snatch balance and I will only increase my weight when I can catch 5 unbroken reps below parallel.
  3. On Mondays and Fridays, I will spend 10 minutes working on hip extension and snatch pulls while video taping my movement so I can see my progress.

By following this progression for setting and achieving goals, we recognize the end result, but place the emphasis on the process.  We take responsibility for the process and what we do on a daily basis.  When done properly, achieving or failing our end result becomes merely a byproduct of our effort.  If we achieve our result, we can look at the process and know exactly why.  If we fail our result, we can look at the process and know exactly why.  When we achieve the result, we pick a new one and continue to grow.  If we fail to achieve the result, we have no one to blame but ourselves.  We learn and grow from the process, reset, and try again.

Those who accept failure as a part of the process, learn from it, make changes, and try again, they will always achieve a goal in the end.  Those who use failure as a reason to blame others and quit will always fail and will end up frustrated while others around them are achieving.  The only real control you have is deciding which type of person you want to be.

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