Good, Better, Best – The Best Way To Set Goals

There’s something we all loved in school whether you realized it or not … “Pass/Fail” grades.

We love the simplicity of it, and we love the clarity of it.

You either passed, or you failed. No need to analyze, no need to check for improvement, no need to worry about how you could have turned your C to a B, or your B to an A.

Unfortunately, many of us take this same mentality whenever it comes to working on our fitness, and on our goals long term. Many people call this the “light switch mentality.” We’re either ON, or OFF. No in between. We either pass our goals, or we fail our goals. No in between.

On Tuesday of last week, I made a post about how over the next 90 days I’m going to complete 48 workouts. It’s an opportunity for me to turn pro by getting those 48 workouts no matter what and making sure that I don’t allow my mind to get me from doing *something* 4 days a week (because after all, a 10 minute AMRAP of burpees 4 days a week is still a serious workout).

But, that is a pretty binary goal. I either pass it, or I fail it. While those kind of outcome goals can be seriously beneficial, I don’t recommend them for most people. My preferred prescription of goals would be to follow the Good, Better, BEST model.

Here’s an example of why I don’t like binary goals, or pass/fail goals:

Just the other day I was talking with one of our clients who is on a weightloss journey. They were upset because there initial goal was to lose 20 pounds by July 4th after starting in March. As long as things keep going the way they are, this person will not make the 20 pound goal, but they are going to have lost 15 pounds.

If we use a pass/fail model of goal setting, this person would more than likely deem themselves a failure. That can be seriously detrimental to their psyche and future fitness habits.

But they’ve done anything but fail! They’ve learned new skills, built new habits, have seriously invested in themselves, and they’ve lost 15 pounds in 4ish months! If they were to continue that trajectory, they could (in theory) lose close to 45 pounds in a year.

That’s life changing weight loss right there, and it all started with “failing” their initial goal.

A lot of people get caught up in the pass/fail aspect of goal setting. Let’s ditch that and use the Good, Better, BEST model.

The Good, Better, Best model (GBB) is a fantastic way to ensure that you’re going to reach a goal in some sort of capacity. By protecting your exercise psyche, it helps you keep up momentum and keep building on the small wins as you continue to move forward.

Let’s get back to my example: 48 workouts in 90 days.

This is actually my “better” goal in the realm of the GBB model. I worked on this goal with my mentor/coach to try and figure out a realistic way for me to improve my fitness over the next 90 days without doing anything drastic.

A Good goal? 3 workouts a week. 36 workouts in 90 days.

A Better goal? 4 workouts a week. 48 workouts in 90 days.

In the realm of completing workouts, the best goal? 5 workouts a week. 60 workouts in 90 days.

That’s a pretty big spread between “good” and “best” … but you know what’s awesome about looking at it this way? I now have a minimal acceptable output that I know I can absolutely achieve. 3 workouts a week is very doable for me barring some sort of crazy bout of sickness.

The “Better” goal (what I’m currently trying to achieve) is a goal that is going to push me a bit more and get me a bit out of my comfort zone. 3 workouts is simple and will keep me moving forward, but 4 per week could get a bit challenging. I’m going to have to put a bit more thought into my schedule each week and how I orchestrate things. This is the sweet spot. I’ll be able to achieve 3 without issues, but I’m going to have to get a bit uncomfortable to achieve the 4th per week.

The “Best” goal would be awesome for me to achieve, but in my current season of life it’s a bit of a daunting task. I mean, 4 is already going to be a bit of a challenge, 5 a week can be overwhelming. However, I don’t have a crystal ball. Who knows… maybe after 2 weeks of hitting 4 workouts a week I start feeling amazing and I can add in that 5th workout no problem. But if it’s not feasible right now? No worries. I’m still on track with my goals.

The GBB model is something that I think would help YOU with your fitness goals, your work goals, your life goals… whatever goals you might have.

Want to lose weight? What’s the GBB look like?

Want to get a promotion by X date? What’s the GBB look like?

Want to spend more time with your kids and family? What’s the GBB look like?

You can literally apply the GBB model to ANYTHING you want to accomplish.

Too many of us (yes, I say US because I’m right there with you) get caught up in the pass/fail mentality in our lives. In reality, any bit of action taken towards your goals should be thought of as a win. Keeping those wins coming, no matter how small they are, is how we keep up our consistency and how we make serious progress for the future.

So let’s ditch the pass/fail, and jump on with the Good, Better, BEST model. You’ll be happy you did! If you need some help with this, send me an email ([email protected]) and we’ll tackle it together.


Clark Hibbs coach at Yellow Rose Fitness


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