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How To Set Meaningful Goals

Abe Maynard on March 11th, 2022

The case for goal setting seems pretty obvious. Set goals, follow the S.M.A.R.T protocol, develop a consistent routine and achieve what you’re after. Seems great right? Unfortunately many people fail to set goals let alone accomplish them. But do we really need goals for recreational skiing? Sounds a bit extra, no? I would argue that goal setting is the single most valuable thing you can do for yourself and your skiing regardless of skill level.  I’ll explain why below.


First of all, what does S.M.A.R.T mean and why does it matter? This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. It represents the framework necessary to create and accomplish goals. Let's break it all down. 



Specificity matters because it will ultimately guide the exercise or program selection.  Let's say you have a goal of "getting healthier". This broad goal will be hard to accomplish because it lacks specificity. Instead, setting a goal to reduce body fat percentage to within the healthy range for your age, height, and weight now has specific parameters. You can ratchet this down even further by placing a specific number on the goal. This will ultimately require you to take stock of where you’re currently at which will establish a baseline so you can compare your outcomes.  Specificity will additionally help you choose modalities that support the goal.  If you’re 25% body fat and want to get to 22% body fat, that will require a completely different approach than if you’re 15% body fat and want to get to 10% because the stimulus required to produce metabolic changes will be greater, and different.  In skiing, Specificity is crucial to your training program.  Wanting to ski ‘better’ is ambiguous and nobody will know when this Is achieved due to its subjective nature.  Setting a goal to “ski VooDoo, a double black diamond, in under 33 seconds top to bottom” clearly communicates the specificity of the goal and we can now work backwards to decide the best plan of attack.



Creating goals and habits that are measurable forces the individual to reflect on their starting point, where they want to go, and ultimately assess whether or not the goal has been achieved. Failure to create a measurable goal will invite emotion into the mix. This can be uplifting at times but more frequently results in feelings of frustration.  If you set a goal to ski “faster” for example, you will have no idea when this happens if you fail to measure how fast you’re currently skiing. This could be done on a specific run under specific conditions that are replicable in the future.  Measurable goals in the weight room are easy to create because weights increase in metrics that are universal whether you’re using pounds or kilograms.  Increasing your 3 rep deadlift from 185 lbs to 205 lbs by October is measurable and will have a sensational impact on your ability to ski, recover, and reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, reducing your mile time from 10 minutes to 9.30 minutes will have a welcomed impact on your cardiovascular conditioning thereby making skiing more enjoyable as you will fight less fatigue.



Creating goals that can be accomplished sounds trivial but proves imperative to continued success. That’s not to say that failure should be avoided, but rather assessed. If you fail, you want to know why and by how much so you can reevaluate your goals. Attainable goals allow the individual to build self-efficacy, or the belief in ones self to be successful.  Achieving set goals will allow you to build confidence in your ability to achieve greater goals in the future.  Expand this to any facet of your life and it holds true.  Start small and manageable, then build to greater goals in the future with the momentum of confidence on your side.



Relevance gives your goals purpose and further drives consistency.  If you set a goal to bench press 300 lbs, there’s zero relevance to the sport of skiing.  Your skiing will not improve by your ability to press an ungodly amount of weight off your chest.  Conversely, setting a dynamic core strength goal, or cardiovascular conditioning goal has relevance to the sport you’re pursuing.  Whether you’re running a marathon, opening up a new business, or trying to ski a double black, you want to make sure your goals and training align with the desired outcome.  Returning to the body fat goal of reducing body fat from 25% to 22%, there is relevant application since a reduction in body fat can improve metabolic function, correlate to improvements in resting metabolic rate, and improve sleep quality, all of which would improve your ability to ski longer.


Time Bound

Setting a goal to Increase your back squat from 100 lbs to 125 lbs would be great! Achieving this goal could improve muscle mass and better prepare you for skiing.  But how long should this take? When do you want this to happen? Increasing your back squat from 100 lbs to 125 lbs before your Deer Valley ski trip on February 22nd is a much more meaningful and impactful goal. The time sensitivity will drive consistency and the goal itself now has purpose.  You know exactly what you’re doing, when it needs to be done by, and why it needs to be done. Time binding your goals, in life, health, and business, will light the metaphorical fire under your ass to get it done.  



One last thing to consider that can have a huge impact is to choose goals that align with your social circle.  Find a support system that is involved with the goal and set it together. If you set a goal to train 3x/week for 2 months and you want to hit every training session for all 24 session, choosing a friend to do it with can bring some livelihood to the goal.  It’s nice to have an accountability partner, someone to share ideas, doubts, and wins.


If you have any questions about setting a goal or formulating it to fit the S.M.A.R.T criteria, just message me and I’ll help you.