Before starting to train it is essential to set a goal to motivate ourselves, and stimulate our learning journey. To set up a goal like completing a 10kms run, we have to identify what we want to achieve (e.g., completing the race on a particular time, or simply just completing it), bearing in mind the time and resources available, and our physical condition.
When the goals are simply statements on what we would like to achieve, then we can get disappointed if we have not identified beforehand the steps that are going to lead us to it. Another source of disappointment is when we include aspects that are beyond our control, like for instance the speed of the other runners. For these types of goals (e.g., finishing first on a competition), part of the effort is wasted by comparing ourselves to others.
Once we have decided on a goal, we need to identify at least three objectives on a short term, being as specific as possible and including a time limit to achieve them (e.g., doing core, quads and biceps exercises three times a week, and doing yoga on the rest days). We also have to identify the actions we need to do to achieve the objectives (e.g., going to the gym, consulting a personal trainer on stretching and warming exercises on the first week).
A continuous evaluation of our performance objectives is another important aspect to succeed. Some athletes find useful writing the objectives on a diary alongside the exercises completed to check whether they are meeting the objectives or they need to be modified. In this diary, they can also reflect on the obstacles they encounter and ideas to overcome them.
It is also worth remembering that the goal is the level of performance we want to achieve and the success depends on whether we achieve the actions related to the objectives.
Goal = desired level of skill or performance
Goal = objectives + actions
- Goal setting helps us to: motivate, have a focused effort and learn.
- The goal should be realistic, containing objectives and actions linked to them.
- The objectives and actions have to be specific and have a deadline.
- It is important to periodically assess progress and if necessary modify the objectives or actions.
The clearer we define our objectives, the easier it is to achieve them. Have a look at the SMARTER acronym:
Specific [Write them down with as much detail as possible]
Measurable [Describe them numerically so they can be measured (e.g., number of weekly training sessions)]
Actions [include relevant actions]
Realistic [Take into account the resources and time available and your capabilities]
Time [Enter a deadline]
Evaluate the objectives […To see if you are achieving them]
Review them […To see what have you done well and what do you need to improve]