Smart Goals at the Althlete Sanctuary

Goal Setting Success

At this time of the year many of you are setting goals or at least thinking of setting them. Goals are like invisible guide posts through which you direct your energy and resources.

Goals help you take charge of your life rather than being constantly reactive to the environment around you. Knowing where you are heading can also reduce stress and anxiety and gives everyone purpose and direction in life on a daily basis.

When used effectively, goals direct our attention, effort and energy.  Goals improve persistence, provide motivation, and improve mental toughness.  Goal setting is applicable to our personal, work and sporting lives. Whilst goal setting is not new, ineffective use of the concept is widespread.

Common goal setting pitfalls:

  • Setting general goals that can’t be measured or unspecific e.g. “running a good 10km”.
  • Failing to prioritize, over committing and setting too many goals to achieve at once.
  • Being unrealistic about timeframes, fitness levels, outcomes, resources and support required.
  • Not layering goals with a mixture of long term and short-term goals. E.g. Setting the goal of running a 10km at nationals but failing to compete at a state level to gain selection for the nationals.
  • Failing to write goals down or not following through with action strategies.
  • Failing to review the goals regularly. “Out of sight, out of mind” is relevant.
  • Lack of accountability or commitment to goals.
  • Setting superficial goals. These are the ones set to please others or goals we think we should have but don’t really ignite motivation inside. These goals often provide an anti-climax upon completion and do not deliver the feeling of accomplishment or experience you were after because they lack alignment in the first place.
  • Rigid goal setting. In some instances, goal modification is required. Being too rigid about short term goals can jeopardize long term goals. E.g. Racing in a lead up race (short term goal) when unwell, rather than resting and recovering.

Goal setting need not be over complicated or lengthy. Simple, prioritized and well-considered goals set up a framework for a rewarding and successful year.

Top 5 Tips to Successful Goal setting

  1. Set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound. Set one key goal for the year and streamline everything else (including other goals) in-line with obtaining it. Set goals that are aligned with your life purpose and meaning.

Past performance and perceived potential should be taken into account when setting these goals. Examples of smart goals include:

  • Run a personal best time (sub 35 minutes) for a 10km road race by October 2019.
  • Lose 5 kg of body weight by June 2019
  • Complete my first 12-week gym challenge by May 2019.

There are a number of ways to build in accountability. Having an external party that helps track and measure your progress on a monthly basis such as a coach, personal trainer, health/ nutritional professional forces you to follow through. Participating in small support groups where you are well known and expected to turn up also helps and prevents you from adopting the “it doesn’t matter if I don’t show up” attitude. Support groups can also be your safety net when you are going through a low motivation phase. Just knowing that someone is waiting at 7am, will get most people up on time and out the door.

  1. Gail Matthews psychology professor at the Dominican University of California suggests you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Writing goals down helps us to commit to them. Make sure you write them in a positive way. So instead of “ I need to quit smoking”. Say “ I will detox my body, through making healthy nutritional and lifestyle choices that will better my health”. Always have goals in a prominent position so they are visible and review them frequently (at least weekly). Looking at your goals frequently helps you to stay on track when distractions arise. Distractions can easily take you off course if you don’t remember where your goal posts are. Reviewing and tracking your goals frequently also helps you to stay realistic, connected and focused.
  2. Meditation and visualization of goals daily can be very helpful to “cement” goals. Think about how you will feel when you obtain your goals during these meditations and what the goal will provide for you.   ‘Feeling’ a goal is an important part of connecting to it. Thinking about how you will feel upon goal attainment provides an internal sounding board. If you don’t feel super excited about obtaining the goal, then it probably isn’t a high priority right now.
  3. Discuss your goals in confidence with a trusted coach, friend, partner or mentor. Don’t feel you have to “bare all” to everyone else but make sure your key support team are on board and understand the journey you plan to take. Obtain feedback from a trusted source who can provide a valuable opinion on your goals.
  4. Plan well. Set long term goals first and then set short term goals that are stepping stones guiding you along the path. Build in contingency plans so when things don’t go to plan you have options as back-ups. Make a list of possible set-backs or issues in advance and think about how you will overcome them. There will always be unexpected issues that arise, but the majority can at least be considered. It is essential to remain mentally prepared and committed to finding solutions to issues along the way no matter how long it takes, or how tough it gets.

Start writing your goals now with this free 2019 template. Click here to download.

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