What to make of Goals.

Woo Hoo it’s 2019! Now what? Did you set some goals? Identify something you want to accomplish this year? Yes? No? Either way it’s not too late. Here’s the thing – I’m going to start with the premise that setting a goal is not enough. It’s just not. Without a plan your goal just some useless words you wrote in your journal, posted on Insta or drunk-shouted to your friend on New Year’s Eve.[i] Let’s break it down like this: Goal -> Plan -> Action -> Intention.

What makes a good goal? Here’s a simple way to look at it - goals should be SMART.[ii] That’s short for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. At least four of those five things are super important. Your goal should be SPECIFIC. If you’re not specific with your goal how will you know what you’ve achieved when you’re done? A goal is also something that should be MEASURABLE.[iii] How will you know you’ve accomplished the goal? ACHIEVABLE\REALISTIC – you should be realistic with your ability to accomplish the goal.[iv] Lastly, your goal should be TIME-BOUND so that you can check in and see if you reached your goal or if you need to reassess, reformulate, redirect or rededicate.

You set a GOAL.[v] Now what?

PLAN! What do you need to do to reach your goal? What must you do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to get you to your goal.  Think about those tiny, actionable tasks that move you towards accomplishing your goal.  Let’s go with an example goal of “Get Fitter.”  Your weekly action item may include getting to the gym three times a week.  How do we make sure we get to the gym three times a week? Perhaps we start our plan with setting out our gym clothes at night so the minute the alarm goes off, all we have to do is put on our gym clothes.  Once we have our gym clothes on, aren’t we more likely to get to the gym and get our workout done?

ACTION! Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Take action.  It’s very easy to establish a goal but achieving the goal is not going to happen on its own. We have to put the work on.  Using our “Get Fitter” goal, we execute our plan by laying out our gym clothes every night, going to bed at a reasonable hour, getting up, getting dressed and then driving to the gym in the morning. Check, check, check.  Here’s a hack to make sure you’re putting your plan into action: Set a daily phone alarm to remind you to complete tasks you’ve outlined in your plan.  For example, most of us have smartphones, set an alarm every night at 8:00PM and name that alarm “Set out gym clothes!”

LIVING WITH INTENTION:  What do I mean by this? To me it means taking your goal and internalizing it. Alarm goes off in the morning but you don’t want to go to the gym?  Internalize your goal by telling yourself, “I’m the type of person that goes to the gym.” This applies to anything.  If your goal is to save money but you see that pair of MetCons[vi] that you want, but don’t need…tell yourself, “I’m the type of person that stays on budget.”

Takeaway: Goals are a great starting point.  Committing yourself to a plan of action and living with intention will yield the results. Many years ago my first CrossFit coach[vii] once told me something that has stuck with me to this day, “If you set a goal and give an honest effort to achieve it but fall short of achieving your goal what’s the worst that can happen?” The answer is – “an honest effort will make you better whether or not you achieved your goal.”[viii]

Happy New Year everyone!      

[i] Full disclosure – I was asleep by 10:40 PM on New Years Eve.

[ii] This is 20 years of governmental service paying off right here I tell ya. We SMART goal the hell out of stuff.

[iii] Hey this is beginning to sound an awfully CrossFitty: Measurable, Repeatable, Observable

[iv] Your goal is to fly to the moon in 2019?  Yeah, uh, not going to happen my friend.

[v] It’s super easy to apply this to stuff in the gym but this applies for anything in your life.

[vi] Nike hasn’t sent me any free MetCons so I’m subtlety discouraging people from buying them in protest.

[vii] Shout out to @Coach2js – lots of things you said over the years stuck with me.  This is one of my all-time favorites.

[viii] This is completely paraphrased, I have no real idea what he actually said but the sentiment stuck with me. I’m pretty sure he said “you’ll be more awesome.”