Setting Goals: Knowing Where You’re Going

By: Coach Kris


Imagine: You’re on a trip. You’ve been driving for a while now—hundreds of kilometres. You’ve seen lots of things pass by, enjoyed the sights so far, and you’re definitely far from where you started. The drive might be getting boring, though. You’ve spent a lot on gas, too. What’s the destination? What was the purpose in going in the first place? Sure, you’ve enjoyed the journey so far, and once you get to wherever it is you’re going that doesn’t mean that you won’t explore a bit, or go further, but doesn’t it make sense to have a destination in mind?

Of course it does. Let’s map this to your fitness.

One the basic tenets of CrossFit is that your fitness should be measurable: One important component of that idea is data collection—recording your lifts and workouts in SugarWOD, and WOD journal (remember those?), or a notebook. In terms of your fitness, data give you an idea of where you’ve been, how you’ve improved over time, and where you are now. But that’s only one part. Another crucial component is to know where you’re going. Once you know that—a destination—suddenly the data you’ve collected have context: they means something in relation to a desired outcome. The data are no longer just numbers that give you some notion of progress; rather, they are now a measure of proximity to a desired result. That desired result? That’s called a “goal,” in the common parlance.

I won’t spill much ink here about how to set goals. Google will send you thousands of hits about setting goals for CrossFit (or even in Real LifeTM)—as well as useful tips for staying on track and being accountable. I do, however, think athletes should take a cue from Coach Sean, however, and keep it simple: Keep your goal specific and realistic. “Get fitter” is not specific. “Start handstand walking by next Monday” is not realistic. Specify one thing, and set yourself a reasonable timeframe. Maybe train for an Rx in a WOD that gets you every time, or maybe train for a Benchmark WOD, like one of The Girls or maybe a Hero WOD. Maybe it’s time to breach the 250-lb. deadlift barrier. Maybe Coach Marianne has inspired you to improve your general physical preparedness (or mental preparedness) for an upcoming competition: Maybe it’s just to lose 5 lb. Once you’ve decided on a goal, you have some idea of what movements and/or effort achieving it will entail—i.e., you know the destination—and the data you’ve collected thus far should give you an idea of how much further you need to go, or of what’s required to get there. Do some research. Ask your coaches. Are there progressions for a movement you’d like to achieve? Are there strategies for tackling that WOD? What and how would you need to train (and when? In Open Gym? Personal training?) in order to achieve your goal?

Certainly, Coach Marianne was right when she said recently “setting a goal for yourself and showing up to accomplish it is incredibly empowering.” Regardless of what it is, achieving your goal is extremely satisfying and personally rewarding—but it’s not the primary reason why you should set one. For your fitness, the importance of having a goal is not in gaining it; rather, it’s in the preparing and working to achieve your goal that a real difference in your health and wellness is made.