How do you know if your goal is helpful or not?
Use SMARTER principle in goal setting.
Smarter acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time- Specific, Evaluated, Recorded.
The goal has to be specific – know what you want to achieve. Do not say that you want to improve your time, it’s not specific enough. Your goal should include how much you want to shave off your current timing. It is important that you begin with the end in mind, which means that you have to plan long-term, intermediate-term and short-term goals.
Measurable: your goal has to be measurable. If your goal is to shave minutes off your timing, then you have to indicate in numbers what is the timing that you want to achieve, or how much time do you want to shave off? In the previous example, this person wants to run his 10km in 55 minutes, which is measurable. The objective is to use behavioral measures to set your goal.
Achievable: your goal has to be something which you can achieve. If your 10km runs have always been 90 minutes, then it may not be possible for you to achieve a timing of 55 minutes after 6 weeks. You may require a longer timeframe to do it.
Realistic: you have to examine if your goal is realistic. As I’ve said earlier, if you have always run 10km in 90 minutes, then it may not be realistic for you to shave off 35 minutes in 6 weeks. Perhaps, you could modify the goal to improving your timing by 5 minutes, so that it will be easier to achieve. However, you also don’t want a goal that is too easy or too difficult to achieve. The objective is to set a moderately difficult yet realistic goal.
Time-specific: an effective goal should have a timeline to it. If you do not give yourself a deadline, you will not be motivated to work towards the goal. You could take 2 years to reduce your time by 5 minutes! Hence, set short- and long-term goals to keep yourself adequately challenged!
Evaluated: Set a goal that can be evaluated by making it more tangible and clearer. And evaluate your goals frequently.
Recorded: The last one is to record your goal process regularly to control the process.
The challenge with goal setting is that it can be quite confusing at first without some clear guidance on how to do it. Below, I give you an example from a soccer player who sets his short-term and medium-term goals.
Soccer goal setting short-term
• Goal (30 day): As a central defender I want to improve my play in the air. This means anticipating well, getting into better position, challenging more strongly, and clearing the ball or directing it to my teammates. I will improve my strong challenges in the air by 50%. This improvement will allow me to break into the starting lineup.
• Step 1. Have a partner deliver 25 crosses for heading three times per week
• Step 2. Have a partner toss balls for heading for 20 minutes three times per week.
• Step 3. Head juggle 500 times per day working up to 100 continuous juggles.
• Step 4. Strengthen core muscles with large ball stabilization exercises three times a week.
• Step 5. Improve vertical leap with vertimax training three times a week.
• Step 6. Improve agility and balance with wobble board training for 15 minutes every day
• Step 7. Visualize successful play in the air for 5 minutes every day.
• Step 8. Watch several soccer matches and note the techniques of skillfull defenders.
Soccer goal setting medium-term
• Goal (12 months): Improve my shooting on goal by attacking the box more aggressively, isolating defenders one on one, shooting more quickly, and picking up a strong target in the back of the net. This will allow me to average three quality shots on goal and score one goal per game.
• Step 1. Practice shooting on goal alone for 20 minutes a day three times a week.
• Step 2. Dribble and practice one v. one moves for twenty minutes three times per week.
• Step 3. Play in an indoor league over the winter.
• Step 4. Participate in small group tactical training twice weekly over the summer.
• Step 5. Improve first step quickness through year round plyometric training.
• Step 6. Improve flexibility by putting in a new pregame warming & stretching routine.
• Step 7. Practice turning on goal & shooting against a defender for 30 minutes a week.
• Step 8. Watch 30 soccer matches and/or goal scoring highlights.
• Step 9. Visualize successful shots daily for five minutes in the days before every game.
To summarise, this is what you need to remember about goal setting.
If you are still not sold on why we should set goal, I will share with you a story about a famous Brazilian soccer player Kaka.
In October 2000, he knocked his head at the bottom of the pool while diving. As a result, he twisted his neck and fractured his 6th neck vertebrae. The doctor told him he could be paralysed and not able to play football again.
While in bed resting from the broken neck, he wrote down the list of goals that he wanted to accomplish.
• 1st goal: to play football again.
• 5th goal: to be part of the starting lineup for São Paulo.
• 9th goal: to play in the 2002 World Cup.
• 10th goal: to play in a big European football team.
And eleventh goal is...to win the Champion's League.
All of them turned out to be true. Although it took him 7 years to achieve his eleventh goal of winning the Champion’s League.
So now you have it – the secret to making useful goal setting - one that can motivate and guide you through to achieve your ultimate goals. Have you had your goals done yet?