What is a Goal?
Goals are those achievements (personal or athletically) that you find personally important and incredibly satisfying. In the world of psychology, it is frequently mentioned that a goal should produce a sensation that you want to experience over and over. Goals should literally excite you because they are the things that allow you to achieve your highest level of true potential – frequently referred to as self actualization.
As you are establishing your goals, you may feel that committing to significant goals requires taking big risks and you are correct! Individuals that reach their full potential, by their nature, are educated risk takers and are aware of the fact that following a sequence of accomplishments makes the goal a reality within a specific period of time. Ironically, accomplished individuals understand the inherent risk of failure associated with not having a definitive plan which motivates them even more to establish specific goals, objectives and timelines. In a research report published by the International Journal of Sports Psychology, “the clearer and detailed the goal, the greater the individual’s tolerance of fatigue and distractions”.
When you establish you 3, 6 and 12-month goals, you will notice that the number of goals decreases as the duration increases. The reason for this is to eliminate spreading your efforts too thin which will only increase your frustration and failure to obtain your goals. Remember, you want to dedicate your time, energy and resources to tasks that will yield the highest level of your personal improvement and achievement.
What is the Difference Between a Goal & an Objective?
Objectives are the individual tasks that you need to complete to make your goals a reality. In order to be successful, your objectives need to be outlined in a sequential order that builds upon the previous objective. There are two things to keep in mind when you are establishing your objectives. First, establish objectives that are measureable and quantifiable. The goal is to strip the emotions associated with accomplishment. If a client tells me that he or she wants to get faster, there is no way to measure “fast”. However, if you tell me that you have a specific elapsed time for a specific distance, we can retest after six weeks of consistent training to see if your elapsed time has improved. If it has, you know that your nutrition and training is developing positive results. However, if the elapsed time isn’t faster, then you know that something specific has to be adjusted in you nutrition and training protocols. There is no emotion associated with setting objectives – you are either getting fitter and faster or you are not. Second, you don’t have to fill out every objective in the provided outline. You will notice in my example below, goal number three doesn’t have all five objectives filled in. The key is to establish objectives that effective in helping you achieve the goal. The focus needs to be on Working Smart, Not Hard!
There are five easy steps to setting goals and objectives:
Data Dump – Stop and review your biggest frustrations over the last six months. Write all of them down. Don’t organize or rationalize, just get them written down. Note: give yourself a week to finish this first step.
Organize – Take all of your frustrations that you have written down and rank them based on which frustration will provide you the greatest return on the effort that you put in. For example, if you are 25 pounds overweight (specific to your sport or activity level), losing this unwanted weight will immediately improve your strength and endurance. Be careful not to choose task that you would “prefer” to focus on, but rather stay focused on where you can get the biggest return on your investment of time, energy and resources.
Establish Timelines – Establish realistic time lines to accomplish each goal. Using the above example of losing 25 pounds for optimum health and performance, you would want to put the total goal of 25 pounds over the next six months (four pounds a month, one pound a week is realistic). If you were to put this 25-pound goal under the three-month timeline, you are simply setting yourself up for failure.
Prepare for Success – It is imperative that you plan for your success. We say with all of our clients that your success can not be accidental. Success and performance is created by establishing definitive goals and then breaking them down into incremental steps (known as objectives) with each step building on the previous. The key to maximizing this step is to gather all of the resources (tools, equipment, etc.) necessary PRIOR to beginning your achievement journey. For example, if you plan on adding fruit smoothies to your increase your intake of vitamins and minerals, you will need a blender. Though this may sound odd, it is this simple hurdle that will keep you from adding smoothies to your program – you don’t have the necessary “tools”. The same thing happens with the desire to eat real, raw food, it is the lack of purchasing, cleaning, prepping and packing the food items that keeps you from taking them with you when you leave the house. If you don’t have your real food with you and you are hungry, you will pull into a drive through. Planning ahead is the key to accomplishing any and all goals that you have established.
Train with Focus – Before heading out the door to train or race, review your personal goals and objectives; remember that there is a reason why you are not good at something: you don’t like it! However, if you take your daily training protocols and run them through your objectives (what you have to do to make your goals a reality) filter, you will crystal clear focus and a completely new level of motivation. Ironically, when you want to improve on something, all it takes is a dedication to identify what it will take to improve, create the time to train correctly in your personal schedule, collect all of the resources necessary and dedicate all of your energy to making your goals a reality. Once you achieve your three month goals, you can now move onto your six month goals and then onto your 12-month goals. Repeat this process indefinitely with bigger goals and aspirations than you ever thought possible. Over the last 33 years I have seen this process produce results that are literally in the history books of various sports and human accomplishments.
Let’s get focused, organized and start working towards your true potential!