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Setting goals is a part of life, an essential part of life. We all need to set goals. Setting goals helps you to clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life. If you saw the title of this video or are listening now and thinking, setting goals has gotten me nowhere and this is some motivational mumbo jumbo – you are my target audience, please listen for a few more minutes. Let’s take a look at how to set appropriate goals using an easy model called SMART goals. SMART is an acronym to guide you on how to create a targeted goal with an actionable path to achieving it in order to set yourself up for success.
Even if we are generally progressing in the direction of our goals, not having them written within the SMART context will often leave us aimless, frustrated and unfulfilled.
SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timeline. SMARTER stands for Evaluate and Readjust.
Let’s take a deeper look at each letter to gain a full understanding.
Be as concise and targeted as possible of what you want. Don’t just say, I want to be able to run faster – how fast? Or how much of an improvement? Give a specific number. In this step you can also ask yourself who else is involved, where it will take place, resources you’ll need, what barriers may we encounter.
This step enables you to track your progress but also creates a hard line as to whether the goal has been achieved or not; how will you know the goal has been achieved? How are you going to measure your progress? We need to know your starting racing time and set up how often you are going to test yourself to see your progress and what number will indicate that you have reached the goal?
Additionally, being able to track your progress also activates the excitement of getting close to reaching your goals (which is part of behavioral activation – there are certain actions that bring about serotonin to help motivate you to keep going because it feels good – but more on that in another video!)
Ensure that the goal is never out of reach but does challenge you. You’re never going to run as fast as Usain Bolt (top speed of 44.72km/h) for as long as you live, I’m sorry, but speak with your coach and fellow athletes and develop an attainable number and set up how you are going to achieve that.
Ensure that the goal matches to you, your life and your cores values. Is it worth while? Why is it important to you? The more meaningful the goal is to you, the harder you’ll work and the more motivated you’ll be.
Set target dates and specific timelines. Subgoals also follow the SMART acronym but are shorter term, easier to achieve and are the building blocks to reach your final long term goal.
Some individuals add “ER” to the SMART model, so there goals are smarter, E stands for Evaluate and R for Re-adjust.
We can then re-adjust our goals to make the elements of SMART more effective for us.
A final goal may be:
I will run a 5K under 25 minutes in September of this year by training 30 minutes a day on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays every week from April 25th to September 25t and my coach will measure my time every Friday. Subgoal: I will run 12 minutes/mile pace by July 1st and I will run an 8 minutes/mile pace by Sept 1st, 2021.
Beware of setting goals where someone else has the power, for example the goal of getting hired for a specific job, or getting a promotion, there are so many factors that are not up to you, who is on the interviewing, but you DO have the power to reach goals pertaining to your qualifications for the job. You do have the power of those things.
If you feel you are using the SMART method appropriately and still finding that you are hitting a wall with your goal progress, stay tuned for future videos on Motivation techniques where I talked about elements of Behavioral Activation points and motivation within Sports Psychology.
I hope you learned something new!