You see yourself 10 kilos lighter wearing that dress you always wanted to.
You picture yourself with “six pack abs” like the fitness model you saw on the muscle & fitness magazine.
You want get a couple of high distinctions in your university studies next trimester.
You want to be a national champion.
You want to break records and be on top of the world…..
As human beings, we are creatures of desire. We want this, and that….in fact we want everything!
Though, it is encouraging in this modern society people look to the future, visualizing their next achievement they desire in their lives, many people set goals without proper thought; unrealistic, lack of planning, over-ambitious, etc.
Hopes & dreams are comforting; but they’re pretty much useless when reality strikes.
Enter goal setting
Like learning to cook, drive a vehicle, play a new sport, “Goal setting” is about learning a set of new skills that need to be developed, practiced, applied to your specific situation, evaluated, practiced some more, updated and practiced again until they become a habit.
Goal setting is an ongoing process much like perfecting a barbell squat; The more you practice using goal setting the better you become at goal setting and the greater your capacity to achieve your goals.
Goal setting is a term heard worldwide – Whether consciously done or not, we set goals for our health, careers, hobbies, sports etc. – everything in our life in general!
However, the majority of people who set goals end up failing & eventually reverting back to where they may have started before. What we do not think about enough is the science & strategy behind goal setting.
So what exactly is goal setting?
Goal setting is simply a strategy aimed towards behavior changes that have shown to be effective in creative positive changes physically and/or mentally for an individual.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to realize that most individuals (myself included) view goals as “What does success look like in you/what do you wish to achieve?” – enter the outcome orientated approach to setting goals.
I thought to myself, if we were dead serious about actually achieving our goals & making them reality maybe we should consider “how much of my precious time am I willing to invest or even sacrifice?” before even thinking about the success we want – enter the process orientated approach to setting goals.
Now I’m not saying having an outcome approach is bad – it is NECESSARY that you know what you’re getting into. But rather, understanding the price you have to pay in order to get there.
Goal setting isn’t simply about your outcomes but also the cost you are willing to pay.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Its super easy to sit around, scroll through social media & visualize what we could or like to achieve.
For example, every competitive athlete wants to win gold medal, be national/world champion. The Sad reality is that most people fail because they also fail to realize the trade-offs and sacrifices that come with it.
What usually gets an athlete successful is proper planning – I’m hard pressed to name more than I can count in one hand top level athletes who do not have programs (smart ones – explained more in the next chapter of this post), coaches to help them & also apply some form of critical thinking.
Think about your outcome as the destination.
Think about your process as the route
Having a plan (route/process) will make your (outcome/destination) much more likely to be a successful one.
The higher expectation goals you set yourself, expect higher difficulties that come along with it – more planning will be necessary!
Setting the goals…but SMART-ER this time round
Now we finally come to the part we all have we waiting for…….
Setting the goals!
SMART ones in particular….
A number of you reading this would have heard of “SMART goals”. For those who don’t, fret not – we’re all always learning & getting smarter!
The “SMART framework” is a well-established model in various disciplines, population health in particular (3). What SMART actually stands for is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time-specific (4).
Setting SMART goals ensures that individuals plan (remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!) to implement concrete & practical course of action so that they could achieve tangible results (5).
- 1. Specific – state what you will do
Be it you want to lose weight, gain weight, lift X amount weight, earn X amount of money, etc. There has to be SPECIFIC goal! Being clear you want to lose 10kg bodyweight is a much better first step rather than something vague like I want to lose weight.A next step could be increasing levels of physical activity, tracking their nutritional intake etc. A vague goal more or less leads to vague results.
- 2. Measurable – provide a way to collect data for evaluation
Once a clear & specific goal has been identified, it has to be MEASURABLE! Carrying on from the example of losing 10kg of bodyweight, how are you going to measure it? The most common form of measure is bathroom scale. So that individual proceeds to get a bathroom scale to use that a form of measurement. Just a side note: With every form of measurement – there are many cofounding variables that may affect the results (however, this is for another day!)
- 3 & 4. Attainable & Realistic – within individual’s scope & means
Going back to process & outcomes – this same individual wishes to lose 10kg (outcome) & has a plan set (process). However, is it ATTAINABLE & REALISTIC? This individual is highly motivated & creates a “realistic” plan towards the goal that has him accumulate at least 10000-11000 steps a day. While he works an 8am-8pm-office job that requires him be seated majority of his day. Is that realistic/attainable? You decide. Instead, he could set a more realistic & attainable goal like taking 5-10 minute breaks every hour of work to walk ~500 steps every hour instead of sitting down, scrolling through social media, etc. Setting an unrealistic, un-attainable goal is as good as expecting to make a fortune by striking the lotto.
- 5. Time-Specific – Clear deadlines/timeframes for outcome/ process goals to be achieved
Now say, this individual has got the first 4 steps of SMART goals on point. Lastly, we need things to be TIME-SPECIFIC. He figured out losing 10kg in 1 month isn’t realistic; he has time on his hand. So he gave himself 1 year. Realistic as it sounds, 1 year is a long period. A lack of achievements will likely cause one to lose motivation during the process. Therefore, instead weekly and/or monthly goals could be used. These are Long & Short term goals –which is also another topic I will discuss in the Goal Setting workshop on the 18 of January & possibly another post or even a workshop looking further into goal setting & motivation!
Hold on now…..You mentioned SMART-ER yeah?
Yes! ER (EVALUATE & RE-ADJUST/RESET) is just as important as every other step! Learning how to troubleshoot, learn from mistakes, learn from the positives; all will likely improve your journey on achieving these goals you desire!
Good or bad experiences, you learn something out of it. Take the positives; Be SMARTER the next time round!
Mr. P Top 3 Asian takeaways
- Goal setting is one of the most powerful tools anyone can use in their life.
- Be SMART-ER about your goals – Fail to plan, plan to fail.
- Enjoy & focus on the process, less (rather than not) on the outcome.
Just a little preview of what’s planned ahead for everyone – I will be presenting a FREE goal setting workshop on the 18th of January 2020 at Fighting Fit Health & Fitness PT studio.
Let me help you along with setting smarter goals for this bright New Year ahead!
Lets all get together to live, lift & learn our best year to come 🙂
1. Cullen K. W., Baranowski T., & Smith S. P. (2001). Using goal setting as a strategy for dietary behavior change. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101, 562–566.
2. Shilts M. K., Horowitz M., & Townsend M. S. (2004). Goal setting as a strategy for dietary and physical activity behavior change: A review of the literature. American Journal of Health Promotion, 19, 81–93.
3. Aghera, A., Emery, M., Bounds, R., Bush, C., Stansfield, R. B., Gillett, B., & Santen, S. A. (2018). A Randomized Trial of SMART Goal Enhanced Debriefing after Simulation to Promote Educational Actions. The western journal of emergency medicine, 19(1), 112–120.
4. O’Neill J, Cozemius A. (2005). The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree
5. 5.Li ST, Burke AE. (2010). Individualized learning plans: basics and beyond. Acad Pediatr ;10(5):289–92.