Goal setting – Getting SMART about where you want to be.

The value of goal setting is captured really well by David Harrison, he wrote:

“Goal setting is an extremely powerful technique for enhancing performance so it is one of the most important strategies you can implement for success in any environment. Goal setting helps to focus attention and it is critical to maintain and enhance motivation. Goal setting gives direction both in the short term and the long term and you can see success as you achieve your short term goals.”

When used properly, goals influence performance by pointing athletes’ attention toward what’s important and channelling their energy, in the right way in order to achieve what they are wanting to do. Goals are a great way to keep challenging yourself and grow as a person and as an athlete as well as optimizing your performance in a measurable way.  

  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Attainable,
  • Realistic and
  • Time based


What exactly do you want to accomplish, you need a foundation to work off in order to achieve further goals, practice makes perfect. If you set a goal to get fit try and focus on a more specific way in order to get fit like running 3-4 times a week, aiming to do your first Ironman, look into the specifics of what it entails to train for an Ironman and speak to someone with the knowledge and who can guide you in achieving this (a coach or fellow athlete). Start by building your goals up one puzzle piece at a time, don’t always look at the entire puzzle or it can become overwhelming.


How will you measure your progress? An important part of setting goals is to evaluate them regularly and reset them if required, how do you know if you have achieved your goal if you can’t measure it? Having smaller targets on the way to your major goal can make sure you’re on the right track. If you want to run 5km in under 30mins, build up your fitness and set time lines on when you want to achieve 5km in 40min, then 35min and then your ultimate goal. The same applies to bigger goals, if you are looking at doing your first triathlon start buy getting in the pool, on the bike and running in bite size pieces and linking up with like-minded people to keep your motivated.


Is it possible to meet your expectations with the time and effort you are willing to put in? Your goals should be realistic within your fitness level, lifestyle, work and family commitments. The main reason why goals fail is that athletes and coaches are unrealistic about what they can accomplish, even small changes in your diet, lifestyle, and activity level can have a significant and lasting effects on your overall health and longevity.


Be realistic of your expectations, your time availability to train in relation to your goals. A well planned day/week can take the anxiety out of ‘fitting’ everything in and remember there are a lot of ways around time management i.e. complete some workouts at home instead of gym, running from home instead of travelling somewhere to complete a workout and so on.  

Time based

Put a time line to achieve what you set out to do, set multiple short term goals in the pursuit to your one big goal, like stepping stones to the bigger picture. This allows you to achieve lots of mini achievements along the way in order to keep you motivated as well an easier way of keeping track of your progress.

Goals setting is about you and identifying what and how you will achieve it and then further measuring your achievements through performance gaols at races etc. Commitment and self-confidence will grow when goals big and small are achieved through realistic planning. Never compare your goals to others, use others as motivation but focus on what you want to achieve!!!

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