Goals: Achieving them the S.M.A.R.T.E.R Way

Goal setting is a popular psychological technique used to enhance performance and success, increase motivation, and to monitor progress. It can be applied to all aspects of life including professional, sporting, and personal settings. S.M.A.R.T.E.R is an anagram for the framework of goal setting to ensure your objectives are properly structured, but we must be wary of oversimplification as we should include individual, contextual and environmental factors that may impact your journey.

I have used this skill throughout my sporting and fitness ventures since I initially learned the concept, as well as also utilized it for my personal and professional development. Want to set your own goals on your own journey towards success? Then read on for Goals: Achieving them the S.M.A.R.T.E.R Way!

Goal setting is used to increase your chances of success via several mechanisms including, enhanced motivation levels, monitoring progress, and continuous personal development. Think about a long-term goal you dream of achieving. Does it cause overwhelming anxiety that it’s a million miles away? Before you know it, you’ve given up! Well, goal setting is used to break down your outcome goal into smaller, digestible chunks that you can achieve one step at a time, with each ‘milestone’ taking you one step closer to glory! 

Get Your Goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R

The first step in creating a well-structured plan is using the SMARTER framework which is an anagram for factors we must consider when creating effective goals. Here’s what each letter stands for and what it means in goal setting:

Your goal needs to be specific in terms of what you want to achieve, e.g. I want to lose 5kg in weight.

The goal must have a unit of measurement, e.g. I want to score 20 goals this season.

Attainable (Accepted)
Any goals you set need to be attainable and not too far fetched. They must also be accepted by YOU. Ownership of your goals is essential for them to be effective and achieved.

Each goal must be given a timeframe to be achieved by.

Targets must generate excitement at the thought of achieving them whilst they should be challenging enough to maintain motivation.

Every goal set and achieved must be recorded to allow you to monitor progression towards the overall goal and they should be adjusted when achieved or not.

Using weightlifting, or more specifically an Olympic weightlifter as an example, they would set an outcome goal (long-term) that is important to them e.g. to win an Olympic medal at the next games. The athlete and coach will then devise a goal-setting plan geared towards that outcome with process goals that are both short-term and medium-term. In this instance, these process goals would look like: ‘to increase my snatch by 5kg within four weeks’ and ‘to qualify for the Olympic games via the British Weightlifting Championships’.

We must always consider contextual and environmental factors that may impact our progress and we need to devise plans to counter the effects. These will vary from one person to the next, but factors to think about would include injuries, available time, other commitments, and external factors about which we have no control over, to name a few.

Mechanisms & Benefits of Goal Setting

So how does goal setting actually work? Essentially, it taps into multiple psychological mechanisms that impact performance, looking to optimize them for success. This includes directing your attention and effort, increasing persistence and prolonging effort towards the outcome, aiding the development of new strategies, increasing self-assessment and performance, and enhancing self-confidence and personal control over your destiny.

Goal setting is widely used, from schools’ setting targets for their children’s academic performance to companies outlining milestones for their sales staff to achieve, quarterly and annually. There is clearly a lot of substance behind the theory of goal setting and it aims to bring about lots of benefits to the individual such as increased performance, motivation, confidence, self-sufficiency, enjoyment of the activity, a clearer direction, and efficient preparation.

Take Away Points

During my degree, I taught the concept of goal setting to a football youth academy, whilst it’s never too late to get started, the sooner you begin the process, the quicker you’ll start to realise success and become better at utilizing this technique. Take time before embarking on any path to success and set out a structured goal plan as it will save you in the long run from plateauing or completely veering off-track.

Also remember it’s psychologically important to celebrate each success and reward yourself in some way each time you achieve a goal. This will maintain your motivation and enjoyment of the challenges ahead. By following this guide to success, I can promise that you will start to move towards your dreams, no matter how big or small, one step at a time and eventually realize them by sticking to your structured goal setting journey to success. YES, YOU CAN DO IT! If your mind starts to look for excuses and get scattered, get it back on track by bringing it face to face with these key psychological insights!

What mental hacks do you use to keep yourself moving toward your target? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter Instagram! Want MORE motivation? Then check out our motivational section for SMARTER moves forward…!

Thomas Higgs

Tom is a 25 year-old health and fitness fanatic, obsessed with food, nutrition, training, and the psychology that it entails. As well as continuously improving his athletic performance in CrossFit, he loves creating content that helps to simplify important scientific health information and engages with everyone so that we can all be better equipped to look after ourselves properly. He has a background in competitive sport, including football and bodybuilding. Having studied Sports Psychology at University he has learned valuable psychological methods for optimum performance, which now gives him a very holistic approach to health & fitness.

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