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Goal Setting

Many of us, myself included, want to achieve goals we set for ourselves, no matter what. But often, what I’ve seen is we expect too much and when we don’t meet that goal to the exact parameters, it just causes us to feel unmotivated and down. There are ways around this, and ways to continue setting yourself up for success. This does not mean you’ll hit every goal you set for yourself, but it does mean you’ll be better suited to handle a missed goal or be set up even stronger for the next one. 


Before I get into how to set your own goals, I’ll briefly discuss the types of goals, and there’s four of them; process goals, outcome goals, short-term, and long-term goals. Process goals are things you as an athlete have control over. These can be as simple as wanting to perform that day to a certain standard, such as keeping the same knee angle during a squat (not allowing inward caving), maintaining a neutral spine on cleans, or maintaining a race pace for a specific duration of time or distance. These are measurable goals and ones you can control and ensure they happen. The benefit to setting process goals is you begin to hone in aspects of technique and your everyday performance. For example, I’ve set process goals with my squat every session from sitting back into my hips the same amount, to depth, and maintaining upper back tightness and so on. In doing so, I’ve managed to hone my technique and ensure my squat is second nature. Outcome goals are things you have little control over, as these have many variables that go into achieving. They are things such as winning your competition or race. You can prepare as best you can, ensuring your process goals are met, but ultimately, outcome goals come down to everyone and their prep as well. With sports such as baseball, winning comes down to your team and everyone’s ability to make defensive plays, hit well, and hope the other team makes errors; which is the same goal the opposition has, and makes outcome goals tough to measure and achieve as an individual. Within the sport of powerlifting, it comes down to coach and client communication, attempt selection, and ensuring your day goes as well as possible, meeting those process goals throughout the day, but ultimately once again, it is the decision of, for lack of a better answer, the universe, to determine who wins. You can prepare the best you can, meet your process goals as an individual, and set yourself up for success, but unfortunately you cannot control the outcome beyond that. 


The next set of goals are the short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are what will set you up to stay motivated and excited about training. All too often I see athletes who have a very ambitious goal, and while not a bad thing, they often have a very short time frame on when they want to achieve said goal. Putting 100lbs on your squat in 3 months, unless you’re brand new to lifting, or on PEDs, often isn’t achievable. And if you set that goal for yourself, when that time comes and you don’t hit that goal, you feel down and upset you didn’t hit it. When, if you would take time to reflect and understand progress isn’t always linear, and make short-term goals that are achievable, but still require effort, you’d make those steps and climb the ladder to that ultimate goal. And you’d do this while still being satisfied on the way there because you’re meeting the short-term goals you set for yourself. Say we return to the athlete who wants 100lbs on their squat, but instead, they use that as the long term goal, and set short-term goals to increase their one rep max by maybe 10-30lbs every 6 week training block. This allows them to hit those short-term goals first, keep momentum and motivation up, and they will eventually hit that long-term goal. Long-term goals are essentially the culmination of these short-term goals. Maybe you want to qualify for the Boston marathon, or for the powerlifters, want to qualify for  nationals or even higher. To do so, you’re going to have to know what your needs are, what you have to do, and then set your short-term goals to achieve that in a reasonable time frame. Knowing your limits  and what will be possible is also a good start. A great example is powerlifter John Haack. He’s discussed his journey to powerlifting stardom, and it was a very basic answer. He just wanted to put at least 2.5kg on each main lift, each time he competed, which was about 3 times per year at the time. If he missed the kilo increase with one of the lifts, he’d try to make up for it on another. It was a very systematic approach to get where he is now and it’s worked out quite well.


It’s good to have your goals laid out where you will continue reaching and striving to achieve and have the ability to do so, because you are intelligent with the goals you set, and it all comes down to one rep, one set, and one day at a time, just getting better each time you train.

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