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Matt Reiland 08-08-2013 02:32 PM

Goal Setting Philosophy
As someone who works in finance for a living, I have encountered "Investment Policy Statements". The idea being that if someone writes down what their investment goals are and how they are going to achieve them in the form of an Investment Policy Statment, they will be more likely to stay the course and not make bad decisions during market hiccups.

Translating that idea to the topic of this forum, I don't have any written or defined fitness goals. I took about a 2 year hiatus from working out, and have started up again for the last 6 months. Now that I have made it a habit and a planned part of my week, I feel like I should be able to set some concrete goals rather than just "program hopping" or doing the random CF WODs I did years ago.

Given that idea, I did a forum search and couldn't find too much detail regarding these questions (please post links to other discussions if I missed something):

-Does anyone have formal, written fitness goals and a plan to achieve them? If so, would you be willing to share those goals here?

-How do you even set goals? Do you start in the short-term (let's say 6 months), and then long-term (3-5 years or so)? Or do you start with your desired end state in the long-term, set some intermediate milestones, and then make short-term goals that put you on track to meet those milestones?

-If you have conflicting goals for the long term (for example, lose 20lbs, increase strength, and improve conditioning), do you focus on one at a time, or try to do all at once? If it is possible to pursue multiple goals at once, how much overlap is acceptable? If the answer is to focus on one at a time, how would you prioritize in the weight loss/strength/conditioning example? Focus on the strength goals first, then conditioning, and let the weight loss hash itself out as the other two goals are met? Or is it a personal decision and the order doesn't matter?

-What is a reasonable method to quantify goals? Is it enough to say "increase C&J by 15% in 6 months", or is there some science behind it that might tell a person with a specific max C&J that they should be able to increase by x% in a given time with a disciplined program?

I would appreciate everyone's thoughts on goals and goal setting. It would help me get a start on my own that I'd like to work through over the next few weeks. I think it will help me stay focused and will be fun achieving goals.

Keith Miller 08-09-2013 10:37 AM

Here's my thought on goal setting. Keep in mind I don't do it currently, but have been working my way to it. However, based on that, this is what I know: Try and make your goals as concrete and quantifiable as possible. Goals such as "improving fitness" and "losing weight" really don't mean anything unless you tie a number or something to it. I don't do crossfit, but in Olympic Weightlifting a lot of lifters set goals to hit specific numbers in the lifts within a given timeframe. You could also set a goal to improve by a given percentage, same basic thing, really, but it's a quantifiable amount to improve and strive for. Also, be careful of opposing goals such as losing weight and gaining strength at the same time. That is very difficult especially if you have a lot of weight lose or want to gain an appreciable amount of strength.

Hope this helps somewhat, and I will look forward to other's responses!! :D

Blake Barnes 08-12-2013 04:02 PM

This is a great topic. I agree with Keith about making the goals quantifiable. Be as specific as possible. I believe there should be an overall, long-term goal and then a few short-term goals to help reach the overall goal. The reason for that is to let the person feel some sort of satisfaction along the way.

For example:

Long-term goal -> lose 30 pounds.

Short-term goals
-> 1. be able to jog 1 mile every day for a week.

(steps to achievement --> a. run around the block every day for a week.
b. run a 1/2 mile every day for a week.
c. and so on until the short-term goal is reached.)

-> 2. clean up your diet.

(steps to achievement --> a. cut out soda/fried foods/processed foods/gluten as much as possible
b. drink more water
c. follow a dieting program [http://robbwolf.com/what-is-the-pale...pping-guides/])

-> 3. get more sleep.

(steps to achievement --> a. get ready for bed sooner
b. keep the TV off when trying to go to sleep. [record your shows!]
c. do whatever else helps you fall asleep.

As you start achieving short-term goals along the way, it will make it a lot easier to reach the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, we live in a world of instant gratification and no one has the patience for the journey to success.

Also, if it helps, write down your goals so you see it everyday as a reminder that you have dedicated yourself to achieve something and to keep yourself disciplined.

Tamara Reynolds 08-14-2013 12:59 PM

I tend to set one big goal and then attack that goal without regards to any other goal.

For example, my last three big goals were:
Squat 137 kg (300 lbs)
Snatch 70 kg
Qualify for the American Open

For the squat goal, all I did was squat. It didn't matter if I accomplished anything else that day as long as I squatted. Sure, there were plenty of days when I snatched or did other lifts, but those didn't matter. If my snatch had gone into the toilet in that time period (which it didn't), I wouldn't have cared.

For the snatch goal, all I did was snatch. Same idea. Yes, I squatted. Yes, I did some clean and jerks. But, none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was my snatch.

For the AO, it was a little more complicated. I had to work my ass off snatching and cleaning and jerking every day. But my sole focus was on the qualifying total and on doing enough meets with the goal of hitting that total. That was all that mattered. A PR total didn't matter, a PR snatch didn't matter, a PR clean and jerk didn't matter. A QUALIFYING TOTAL mattered. This meant that I had to go into several meets willing to bomb because all I was after was the QT. And, I did bomb at one, and it sucked, but I knew it was highly likely. So, I got over it and did more meets and qualified.

I've basically done this over and over again for the past four years or so. It keeps working, so I'm not interested in changing things.

At the moment, my goal is a 150 kg squat.

Guess what I do every day?

Matt Reiland 08-14-2013 07:33 PM

Thank you all for the inputs.

I'll mull over your comments and use them to generate some well defined goals for myself in the next few days. Maybe if I post them up here, that will generate additional discussion.

Thanks again.

Patrick Haskell 08-16-2013 08:51 AM

One thing I would add is that, as much as it helps having specific short-term goals, it is also important to have specific long-term goals. For example, you want to improve conditioning, but how and to what end:

Are you trying to improve conditioning to run a competitive 5K, play beach volleyball, play pick-up soccer or ultimate, go for long backpacking trips in the mountains, or not embarrass yourself at a CrossFit throwdown. These all fall under "improved conditioning" but are very different goals.

The same goes for increasing strength. How do you want to apply this strength and in what ways do you feel relatively weak? This can be highly focused wrt deficits in your olympic lifting, can be general for movement patterns you want to improve (e.g., overhead strength, pulling/hinging, squatting, jumping). You may have multiple goals in this regard, but it's good to prioritize them, whether or not you choose to be as specialized as Tamara.

In terms of whether you can pursue multiple goals at once, the answer is yes in the long-term and maybe/sort-of in the short-term. If your long-term goals involve strength, conditioning, and let's call it body composition, those are your goals. It's the job of the programming to fit the goals - with the admittedly significant caveat that the metrics you put on these and the way you approach them in the short-to-intermediate time frame need to be realistic.

Strength takes the longest time to develop and has the most carry-over, so it is logical to start there. However, if your conditioning absolutely sucks and your application is being able to play soccer mid-field for 90 minutes for your company's rec team at some point next year, you probably want to do some base-level conditioning involving running. When you are focusing on strength, this can be mostly light aerobic work, but putting in a little mileage - even a few miles a week where most of it is part of your daily warmup - can provide the strength base for later training to run for an extended period of time. If your conditioning goals are more broad, you might get in your light conditioning with some KB swings, carries, bear crawls, complexes of assistance work, or short metcons, but don't let these eat into your recovery for strength work at least until you begin to prioritize the conditioning work. The olympic lifter may not need much conditioning, but some low-level aerobic work has carry-over to most activities. As for body composition, if you're good making it a lower priority for now, start with food choice and commitment to your program and see whether you need to do much more that that. As the next beach season approaches and your priorities change, you can get stricter with your diet and do more curls, if you want. :D

Matt Reiland 09-08-2013 10:53 AM

I said I would post up my goals that I build for myself based off of the input received here, but I have not yet built well-defined, specific goals.

However, I wanted to add that since the original posting I purchased Greg's Olympic Weightlifting book (2nd ed.). The chapters/sections on program design and athlete assesment provide a lot of information that I think is applicable to building out goals, both short-term and long-term. Although Greg was writting with a target audience of O-lifters, and laid out a sample 1 year training schedule, I think the same thought process would be valuable even if you goals were more focused on weight loss, GPP, endurance, whatever.

I still plan on sharing my goals here when I hash them out and formally write them down.

Matt Reiland 10-10-2013 09:20 AM

Not sure if anyone cares, but I said I would post up my goals as I start to figure them out, so here you go.

In 2015 I will be eligible for Master's weightlifting competitions, so I've decided to set a goal of lifting a Pan-Am qualifying total in my weight class at a sanctioned Master's competition.

In the meantime, I plan on entering 2 competitions next year, maybe spring and fall. Still deciding on that, but the goal would be to get experience in competition so I understand warm-up timing and how meets are run in general.

They aren't as specific as they should be YET, but I'm still working on them. Any input or comments are appreciated.

Blake Barnes 10-10-2013 09:42 AM

I would plan on going to as many meets as possible; no one can have too much meet experience. Some meets you probably wouldn't want to taper for because you don't want to alter the program but if you have heavy singles on Saturday then it doesn't make a change to the program.

Good luck to you!

Keith Miller 10-10-2013 09:48 AM

I agree, I would not necessarily limit yourself to just 2 meets next year. Go to as many as you can, especially if they're close to you.

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