In today’s article, we present a process for setting goals and show you just how simple planning for success can be.
In our last post, we talked about the importance of setting goals. They provide direction, give you control, and improve confidence. But you might be wondering how to begin.
If you’ve ever taken a business or project management class, you’ve likely heard the term “SMART.” SMART is an approach used to guide goal setting. According to this approach, quality goals should conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
Let’s review these one by one.
Specific When setting your goals, be clear about what you intend to accomplish.There is a difference between, “I want to get stronger” and “I will add 20kg onto my back squat by the end of the year.”
When setting a goal, think about the 5 W’s:
Measurable The more specific the goal (and the process needed to achieve it), the easier it is to measure both your progress and your outcome.
When setting a goal, ask yourself these two questions:
To measure your progress, you must first define your process goals. Whereas outcome goals are what you intend to accomplish, process goals are the routine actions that will get you there. Let’s go back to the first (outcome goal) example, “add 20kgs to back squat by end of the year.” A few example process goals include: train 4x/week, back squat 2x/week, get 7-9 hours of sleep/night, eat 130g protein/day. These goals provide a process to subscribe to and are easily measured.
Knowing whether/when you’ve achieved your goal brings us back to our first criteria: be specific. When defining your outcome goal, you’ll want to think about what exactly you are trying to achieve. If you’ve defined your 5 W’s, there should be no question about whether or not you have achieved your end goal.
Achievable Goals should inspire, not discourage. While the majority of us would like to add 50kgs to our back squat in 6 months, it is simply not realistic. SMART goals encourage us to dream big, but keep our roots planted in reality. Achievable is not synonymous with easy, the trick is to find the right balance of challenging and attainable.
To figure out if a goal strikes this balance, ask yourself:
If the answer is no to the last question, don’t write off your goal completely. Simply refine it to match your current time frame, while still aiming high. When setting a goal, it’s often better to overshoot than under, so that you may push yourself to do more rather than settling for less than what you’re capable of.
Relevant It is also important to reflect on how your goal fits within your long-term objectives. For example, if your long-term objective is to make it onto the national swimming team, does allocating 10 hours/week towards improving your squat make sense?
When trying to answer this, ask yourself a few questions:
Time-Bound Lastly, it is important to keep in mind a time-frame when goal setting. Setting realistic (but also flexible) target dates for deliverables and the end goal keeps morale and motivation high.
Some questions to ask yourself include:
Once you’ve reflected on these questions, don’t procrastinate! Think positive, start planning, and get to work. The time is now.