Tell me about your goals…..?
Often, when I ask an athlete “have you written down your goals? What are they?” I get one of two immediate responses:
1. Well, sort of… My coach (teacher/parent) makes me write them down, and it’s sort of ‘x’ or on my last team my coach made us write them down and it was ‘y’ or my family talks about our goals at new years and this year i said ‘z’ This athlete has not spent time considering and writing down their goals.
2. I know exactly what my goal is, I’m going to be an Olympian, I’m going to be Pro, I’m going to get a university scholarship…This athlete has really BIG goals, but most often is missing the small steps that will make this goal possible.
Sound familiar? In this article we are going to teach you how to write powerful goals that work FOR you, not AGAINST you, so the next time you are asked “what is your goal” you can reply with confidence and conviction (and have a strategy to allow you to walk the walk, not just talk the talk!)
Keep reading to find out:
– Why goals are important
– 5 different types of goals you can write – a goal setting dictionary
– How and when to use each one
– SMART(ER) goals process
Why are Goals, and having a solid goal setting strategy Important?
- Goals keep you moving forward: Having a goal gives you something to plan and work for.
- A written goal is a constant reminder of what you need to accomplish.
- Goals will keep you motivated and focused even when your inspiration is at a low.
- Having a good goal setting action plan can transform insurmountable mountains into walkable hills.
- Having a good outline of process goals will allow you to see and track your success, and can give you a sense of pride, confidence and motivation to continue.
- Writing down goals and having a deadline for achievement can help you to re-evaluate the path toward your major performance goals as you go
- Goals can hold you accountable for failure: They can help you determine if what you are doing is working, or if you need to make changes in order to achieve the success you want.
A goal, is a goal is a goal right?…well, not necessarily…
In The Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Goal setting is identified as “one of the most important skills taught to athletes in order to help them achieve optimal performance. The goal-setting process helps athletes understand where they are currently and also where they want to go”
There are FIVE different types of goals. Each has their own purpose, method and appropriate time to use. here’s an outline:
Five Types of Goals: A goal setting dictionary for student athletes
Subjective Goals: Not based on a specific topic, performance. These are often goals that encourage specific qualities that will support your success, life skills, effort, time management, coach ability, etc.
“I want to give maximum effort every time i’m on the field”
“I want to listen and try everything my coach tells me”
“I want to manage my time better and be 10 minutes early”
Outcome Goals: These are typically really BIG goals, and are long term, destination goals. These can also be thought of as a vision. If (and when) you reach this goal, you will consider your journey a successful outcome. However, outcome goals are rarely in your control and are almost always controlled by outside factors, other people and circumstances.
“I want an athletic scholarship to Stanford”
“Be the fittest person on the field at tryouts”
“I want to represent my country at the Olympics”
“I want to win the National Championships”
Subjective and Outcome goals are important to identify, however they are often to generic to be trackable, and very hard to stay motivated to accomplish.
Objective Goals: Identify an area to change or improve in order to get something accomplished.
“I want to improve my math grade to 90% so I can get into Engineering at Stanford”
“I want to improve my yoyo fitness test score to 17 so I can play on the Provincial Team this summer”
“I want to increase my the length of my drive so I can hit more greens”
Performance goals: The building blocks that will help you to reach your outcome goals. Performance goals are completely under your control, and are related only to your personal performance. You may have an outstanding performance but still not be the winner or be the best at something. Without a performance goal, you may get disappointed or discouraged because you didn’t win, but with a performance goal you can see that you are hitting your personal targets which is a good assessment of your own growth, outside of other people and factors. For example your goal is to be the fittest person on the field at tryouts, but you may run the yoyo test and another athlete beats you. Having a performance goal will allow you to evaluate if you achieved your personal best or not.
Process goals: To take goal setting to the highest level possible, you need to understand that thinking small is the secret to big success. No really BIG goal is accomplishable without the small steps that get you there. What are you committed to doing in order to win that championship? How are you going to do it? Who do you need to help you do it, and and when are you going to get it done? It is these little process goals, little successful moments along the way, that keep you motivated on the long journey. To read more about process goals visit this post about goal mapping.
Sometimes you might hear people talk about goals as observable as well:
Observable goals are goals that you can literally watch (or observe) happening. Observable goals mean that they are specific, and have a time frame attached so that you can track your progress regularly from start to finish.
The first three types of goals are often set without a good system identified to allow you to accomplish them.
A high school athlete has a goal of making the University of Stanford soccer team. She would have to research the GPA necessary to get into her academic program of interest, adhere to a strict study schedule to make good enough grades on assignments and test in various classes to be considered academically eligible for Stanford. She would also have to work hard at her fitness, individual elimination skills, ball control, goal scoring, passing skills and defensive skills to make sure her skill level was of the Stanford standard. She would also have to get herself in a position to be identified by the Stanford Coach, attend showcase tournaments, have a great highlight video or attend camps, as well as have a rock solid recruiting plan and communication strategy.
In order to get all of THAT accomplished, without feeling overwhelmed, and losing motivation she would need to break down her outcome goal “I want a university scholarship to Stanford” into manageable pieces. Which means setting a series of SMART(ER) goals that will address all the criteria needed to get a scholarship to Stanford:
– The Academic requirements
– The Athletic requirements.
– The Recruiting process requirements
Write goals that will work FOR you (not against you)
- A ‘sort of’ goal is not going to work for you. If it’s not carefully considered it is fleeting and will leave your mind as soon as you are done talking with us about it!
- A goal you wrote because someone else said you should is not going to work for you. You must be 100% invested in your goals, what they stand for and accountable to the process it will take to achieve them)
- A big, huge long term outcome goal, is not going to work for you. The bigger your goal, the harder it is to accomplish, and the more continuous motivation it will take to achieve it. consider this chart:
I’m assuming most (if not all) of you are familiar with SMART goals. If not, here is a very example of how you can make SMART(ER) goals work for you:
S = Specific
State exactly what you want to accomplish (Who, What, Where, Why, How)
“I want to improve my yoyo fitness test score from 14 to 17, I will do this by working with a coach for an hour 3 days a week to improve my agility, foot speed, endurance and I will also practice mental focus strategies for 10 minutes each day when I wake up.”
M = Measurable
My current score is 14, the requirement is 17. I will know my foot speed and agility is improving if I feel more confident in the plant, turn and accelerate portion of the test. I will know my endurance is better if I am less tired throughout the test. I will know if the mental skills practice is working if I feel confidence and belief in myself that I can overcome the test. I will know if the training is working if I see improvement in each of my evaluations.
A = Achievable
Your goal should be challenging, but within your ability to reach, push yourself outside your regular comfort zone, but also be realistic. You will be more likely to stick with it if you achieve success and you can always celebrate that success by re-evaluating your goal and trying something bigger next time!
R = Relavent
Double Check that this plan ties into your big picture goal. If your outcome goal is “to get an athletic scholarship to Stanford” and need to run a 17 on the yoyo test so you can make the provincial team that is going to the showcase tournament where the Stanford coach can see you play, then this is a good goal!
T = Time-framed
The final fitness test is in 6 weeks. This gives you 6 weeks to accomplish your goal, and two opportunities to measure and evaluate your progress prior to the deadline.
E = Evaluate
I will run the test every 2 weeks on saturday evening at our typical training time to evaluate my progress.
R = Re-asses or Reward
After each evaluation evaluate if the training is working, and if not make adjustments to your daily or weekly practice. For this example it could be adding things like tracking your nutrition or sleep prior to the test, and seeing if that affects the next evaluation.
As you can see, when you break down your goals like this they can become much more manageable and not as overwhelming. You are taking steps toward your ultimate outcome goal, but you are doing it in Smart steps that allow you to achieve success, and re-inspire yourself along the way.
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