On Your Mark, Get Set, Goal!

Create SMART Goals for Your Best Year Ever

On Your Mark, Get Set, GOAL! Create SMART Goals for Your Best Year Ever 

by Kyle Daniels 

As an athlete, I’m a big fan of the beginning of a new year.  It is not only a time to reflect on the year that has just ended, but to also set new goals for a fresh start for the upcoming race season.  For me, it’s the time to look at the race calendar, and to start setting some personal targets. There are no rules to goal setting. However, it’s important to remember several concepts to avoid frustration while on the path to reaching your target. To keep it simple, remember the mnemonic SMART.  

Let’s get started.  First, make SPECIFIC goals.  While the unaimed arrow never misses, you need to have a target if you are seeking a specific result.  Picking a race is a great example.  If your goal is to run a marathon this year, find a race, put it on the calendar, and start telling yourself, “I am going to run the Long Beach Marathon this October.”  Being specific will give you a target to set your sights on.   Second, make sure your goals are MEASURABLE.  If your goal is to run faster this year, set goals that you can measure, such as “I am going to improve my marathon time by 15 minutes.”  Measurable goals will help you create a plan to reach that specific goal.  In this case, you know that you’ll have to drop roughly 30 seconds per mile, so you will need to create a training plan that incorporates that measurable objective.  Third, set ACHIEVABLE goals.  Create smaller goals en route to reaching a larger goal, or write down a collection of to-do’s that have been accumulating on your list.  Continuing with the running example, if you goal is to run the Long Beach Marathon, you would be wise to find a 10K and then a half-marathon to test your progress if you want to drop 15 minutes from your marathon time. Fourth, be REALISTIC when setting goals based on your skills, talents, and the amount of time you will need to reach your desired outcome. This is important.  It’s also perfectly fine to adjust your goals as you go to keep them realistic.  If dropping 15 minutes is turning out to be harder than you first thought, dial it back to a more reachable time.  Finally, set a TIME deadline to reach your goals.  As we started with the example to run a marathon this year, setting a deadline should be easy, just remember to keep in mind you’ll need to give yourself enough time to achieve your desired result.

In addition to creating SMART goals, there are a couple other important things to consider.  First, write your goals down; this will make it easier to focus.  When you write something down, you’re at least twice as likely to remember what you have written.  And while you have the pen and paper out, write down steps with deadlines that will be required to achieving your goal.  Lastly, review your goals.   Did you make them SMART?  Are you giving yourself a fair time frame and a reachable target? 
Remember, stay positive!  Setting goals is something that should build you up, not bring you down. If you are struggling to reach your goal, you can always take a moment to reevaluate your goal and break it down into smaller pieces.  Good luck and happy goal setting!
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Training Tracks w/ Erick Sobey