How to Write Worthwhile Goals for 2016


I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, and frankly, I shake my head at people I see posting ridiculous resolutions on Facebook. We both know you’re not holding yourself to that resolution. And you won’t because it’s a resolution, which is light-years away from an actual goal. Goals are awesome. If you want to post your goals for 2016, I’m all for it because goals, by definition, give you a purpose, guide your work and give you measurable objectives along the way. In contrast, making a resolution means giving yourself no tools or plans to improve yourself in the next 365 days.

We ask our members to write “Goal Cards” each year and we give them guidelines for setting those goals, because goals are achievable when written strategically.

Here’s how we recommend our members write their goals each year. You’ve probably seen this framework a time or two in your life. It’s a structure for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals:

Specific – Target a specific area for improvement.

Measurable – A number or way to measure change.

Action-Oriented – What is the expected outcome? Set very clear results.

Realistic – Are the goals realistic?

Time-related – When must the goal be reached? In this case, it’s by the end of the year.

For example, let’s say Mary can Snatch 135 pounds and she wants to Snatch her bodyweight of 150 pounds by the end of the year. She feels uncomfortable with that goal, and she has no clue how to get there. We let her know this goal is achievable and realistic for her abilities. We set her up with an actionable plan to make it happen by the end of the year. She’s to attend at least two Olympic weightlifting classes each month for the entire year. Additionally, she is to video-record her lifts in class, using her phone, then review them with a Coach and ask for tips. The plan also includes attending CrossFit classes at least four times per week, so she continues making strength gains which will facilitate her Snatch goal. She also is to perform light yoga or ROMWOD at home at least five days per week. Lastly, she’s to perform breathing drills at the gym before class to reduce muscle tone/tightness and reset her central nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, allowing her to move more efficiently.

What are some bad examples of goals? Well, anything that doesn’t meet the S.M.A.R.T guidelines, obviously.

  1. “Consistent Double Unders” – What exactly is consistent? How do we measure this objectively?
  2. “Work on my Power Cleans” – What needs work? How do we work on these? What is the expected outcome?
  3. “Increase Endurance” – Way too broad. Maybe you can fine-tune this to “Sub-nine minute Helen,” so you have a specific, measurable goal that’s action-oriented toward your goal of improved endurance.

OK, so what are some good examples of goals?

  1. “Attend four classes a week” – That’s a specific number that, assumingly, is only a mild increase from your current attendance. So, it’s also realistic. If you’d said five classes, but you’re currently only attending two, then maybe you’ve chosen an unrealistic goal.
  2. “Add 30 pounds to my back squat” – Adding 30 pounds to a back squat in a year isn’t an unrealistic goal for most beginner and intermediate lifters. If you’d said you wanted to hit a double bodyweight back squat and you’re 100 pounds away from that goal, then maybe you should first re-assess a few things.
  3. “15 unbroken butterfly chest-to-bar pull-ups” – Talk about specificity. This goal nails it. It includes a number, a mechanism for performing that number and a specific type of movement.

Slater Coe has been involved in CrossFit since 2008, and has watched as his own perspective on coaching has evolved due to a myriad of influences. He tries to make human movement understandable for all levels of athletes and believes mentality can have a great effect on performance. Coe is the head Coach at and a co-owner of Derby City CrossFit in Louisville, Kentucky.