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It’s the most depressing time of year to work in most gyms: new people flood in for 1-2 weeks and read magazines full of cheesecake recipes while they half-heartedly shuffle away on ellipticals. So much for resolutions.

I prefer setting goals.

Smart Goals?

Beginning trainers learn to use the SMART acronym for goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

For myself, I would change the “A” to “Adjustable” – as in, make it a high-reaching goal, and then be ready to adjust your expectations along the way if life gets in the way in the form of injuries or other roadblocks. But seriously, make it worthwhile!

Mapping it Out

One of my few idols, the mixed-martial arts great Georges St-Pierre, says in his autobiography, The Way of the Fight: “Pick a goal, make a realistic plan to reach that goal, work through each step of the plan, and repeat.”

Making it Personal

My own over-arching goal at the moment is to break the national record in powerlifting for my weight and age class. The more I manage to make small advances, the more I realize this is an incredibly lofty goal. I don’t know if I will ever be able to attain it, but I still have about six years in this age class to work toward it.

This journey started with addressing shoulder pain so I could even bench press an empty bar pain-free. Next, when I was coming up to my first competition, I realized I had to work on hip and ankle mobility to even make legal depth in the squat.

My most recent goal was to qualify for the Nationals. I’m happy to say that I will be competing there in two months. Tick!

My next goal is regarding my current Wilks score. In non-powerlifting English, that’s a way to measure the strength of a powerlifter against other powerlifters despite the different weights of the lifters. It’s sort of like a handicap measure for golfers. Next, I want to match the minimum benchmark that a female in the open (young / adult) age class would want to achieve, so I’m aiming for a 300 (I’m currently at 255).

I still have numerous improvements to make in technique for all three lifts, particularly my bench and squat, so let’s hit that Wilks this year, is my plan.

The Open Road

And you? What makes your heart beat faster with the thrill of achieving it…or not? And what steps will you take to truly aim to get there?