When Goals Change, Make a New Plan (Skill Levels Revisited)

I wrote about the Skill Level system a while back and I want to revisit that today in light of the 7 questions I asked over the past two weeks, and talk about how my approach to these goals has changed recently.


7 Questions

Who am I?

Well, I could give some pretty lengthy and broad answers to that, but I am going to keep this constrained to the realm of physical fitness and these specific skill goals.  So, I will say that I am a lifelong fitness enthusiast, someone who appreciates a balance of weight-training, gymnastics practice, and hard cardio.  I was part of the early CrossFit scene.  I’m getting older, and I appreciate pushing myself to develop new abilities more than competing against others.

What do I want to achieve?

I want to ‘check off’ all the skills on Dave Werner’s Athletic Skill Levels 2.0.  These are organized into 4 levels, each with 3 columns.  Right now, I’m pretty close to completing everything in Level 3.  After that, I’d like to complete everything in Level 4.

Why do I want to achieve it?

I believe in fitness as a lifelong pursuit of personal potential, while developing strength, proprioceptive skill, and work capacity in harmony with each other.  I was part of the development of these skill levels, as an early guinea pig and frequent test subject.  My involvement with, pursuit, and appreciation of the Skill Level system over many years has endeared them to me.

When will I achieve it?

This will take years.  I have been playing around with these since 2006 (that was the Skill Levels 1.0) and skills come and go over time.  I’m fairly confident I could accomplish everything from Level 3 by the end of this year.  After that, it’s just playing with Level 4 stuff until I either accomplish them all or realize that they are outside of my abilities.

Where will I achieve it?

The great thing about these goals is that I can work on them anywhere.  They don’t require much specialized equipment and I have everything I need right here at home.  When I travel, I can always find a place to run or lift weights, and I bring my own gymnastics rings with me so I can work on that stuff any place that it’s suitable to hang rings from.

How will I achieve it?

This is the fun part.  I will achieve it by attacking my LOWEST skill ability first.  That’s why I made a chart of all these skills, which I can easily reference to see where my priorities are.  Depending on what that lowest skill ability is, I might work on it every day, or maybe 2 or 3 times within the week.  I make a list of my highest-priority skills (aka weakest) and organize my training programs around them.

What am I going to do now?

I’m going to do 55% bodyweight thrusters and run every weekday.  These two are the lowest abilities on my list.  They’re both at 2C right now (pursuing 3A), while almost everything else is 3C or above.  They are also things that I can do 5 days a week without becoming too sore or messing up my ability to adapt to them, because they’re basically just about endurance.

Changing Goals

I recently ran through a series of assessments of everything from my ‘top 10’ list of skill level goals.  This was a list I had made of the 10 weakest things for me on the Skill Levels chart, and the 10 things I was prioritizing in my training over the past few months.  I tested them at a pace of about 1 per day over a 2-week period.  I found that some things were close, some were far, and I was even able to check one of them off the list.

When I went into my chart to check off the skill I’d accomplished (run a mile in under 6:00), I noticed a pattern.  All the things I’d checked off recently had been things that were lower on my priority list.  They were the things that were at number 8, 9, or 10 on the list (ie the things I was strongest at).  I’d been accomplishing these during training–not even on assessment days–and shuffling around that lower part of the list frequently.  To my mind, this indicated that I was probably neglecting the really hard things–the things I was really bad at–and putting more time into the things I was already decent at, which led to them getting checked-off more frequently.

So, I re-did my priorities list.  I separated out the things that were really weak (the 3A goals) from the things that were kinda weak (the 3B goals), and the things that were basically on the cusp of achievement (the 3C goals).  Since 28 of 35 rows on the chart were already 3C or above, these 3C goals were not nearly as important to achieve as the 3As and 3Bs.  I could take the 4A goals off my list entirely.

Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 8.24.40 AM

This gave me a new list of my top 7 priorities, separated into HIGH priority (3A goals), MEDIUM priority (3B goals), and LOW priority (3C goals).  Now I could organize my training in a new way that better reflects these priorities.  By putting the most time & effort into the highest priority (lowest ability) goals, I’m hoping to check them off first and level-out the whole equation.  Things that are lower priority (like 3C goals), can get less time and attention and wait to be checked-off until after these 3A things get taken care of.

All this is really just to create an example of the goal-setting process, and to show how those goals shift and alter over time as we achieve things.  Sometimes our goals change, but it doesn’t change how we do everything.  Shifting goals definitely affect daily routines and workout plans, but they don’t have to throw off your whole system.


Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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