Let me tell you something you don’t hear often… Aim low! Have small goals and short term projects. Usually, people hear the complete opposite of this. “Aim high”, “dream big” and “have big goals” are the most common pep talk phrases. But, while it’s important to have something to strive for, short term goals are much more important in the journey towards the destination.

For example, let’s say an athlete wants to snatch (squat snatch) heavy. It’s their first week doing CrossFit and snatches look cool. While their end goal is to squat snatch, that sometimes gets confused with a short term goal. Athletes go in too early on movements that are not in their repertoire yet because they just want to do it. Can you do an overhead squat? Are you able to drop under the bar efficiently? Do you have enough strength, mobility, coordination to perform the movement? If the answer was no to any of those you probably shouldn’t be attempting squat snatches. Don’t blend your long term goals with your short term goals.

It gets more complicated when it comes to complex goals, like doing a triathlon or participating in a CrossFit competition. There are so many intricate details that are a part of long term goals that focusing solely on the goal might bring negative effects to you. Overtraining is a common one. Not being able to enjoy the process is another one. Finally, it’s hard to do smart training if your aim is strictly at the goal.

Let’s go back to the snatch example. Let’s say my goal is to snatch 185 lbs and my max right now is 135 lbs. If the class doesn’t have snatches on a certain day, I might stay after during Open Gym to work on my snatches. But the class workout had a bunch of squats and presses that day and my body is tired. But I am determined to get that 185 over my head. I do some hang snatches and some snatch deadlifts. They didn’t go well because I am tired so I tell myself I will work on them again tomorrow.

Next day there are deadlifts and sumo deadlift high pulls in the WOD and I am sore from doing the extra snatch work after class the day before. So after class all I do are some overhead squats. I give myself a two day rest and then I plan on maxing out my snatch. I’m feeling good that day and I get 140 lbs, which is a PR, but I miss 145 three times. I don’t appreciate the PR. I get upset because I’ve been working on them so much but I’m still 45 lbs away from my goal. So I plan to work on them harder.

See how focusing on the end goal can hurt you?


Instead, have small goals that you can achieve sooner rather than later. Your goals should always be evolving, as you progress. So your goals right now should not look the same as your goals will look like in a month, three months or a year. Want to get 20 pull ups? First have a goal of doing 5 unbroken pull ups. Once you achieve that, congratulations! Acknowledge it, celebrate it and create another goal. Now 5 unbroken pull ups in a fatigued state. Then 5 unbroken pull ups twice with minimal break in between. Want to eat healthier? Start by cutting out processed food out of your diet. If you can manage that, start adding some more good fats and cut sugars. Then measure your food. So on.

Just like when you learn how to do a clean or snatch, you need to master the small details in order to create a good movement. Your goal shouldn’t be to do a perfect clean, but do perfect the details of a clean. Take one small victory at a time and training will become much more enjoyable. Aim low and achieve your short term goals for steady and linear progress!

If you have any questions about goal setting and smart goals just let one of your Celebration CrossFit coaches know!


by Coach Matt