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The Art of Goal Setting: Our Best Tips and Strategies for Ultimate Success!

If you were unable to join us last week, let us officially welcome you to goal setting season!


As a brief recap, last week we touched on the art of setting SMART goals. You know, goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and those that include a time element. Additionally, we discussed the different types of goals – outcome goals, performance goals, and process goals – to help us better understand the goal setting process. If you’d love a bit a review, be sure to check out Everything You Never Knew You Needed to Know About Goal Setting… and Then Some!

Goals - Lightbulb and Yellow Lettering

We promised an epic short series on types of goals, how goals influence performance, and the goals setting process and we are about to deliver on the latter half (well, really two-thirds, but who’s really counting!?!) of that promise. Let’s dive right in!


How Can Goals Influence Performance?


We are going to start with a pretty bold statement: goals influence performance! Whew, glad we got that out of the way! Goals influence performance in many ways including directing attention, mobilizing effort, enhancing consistency, persistence, and motivation, developing new learning strategies, and increasing self-efficacy. [1,2]

  • Directing Attention and Mobilizing Effort: Attention and focus are critical factors for goal achievement for any athlete, regardless of age or ability. Athletes with exceptional attention and focus are able to aim their efforts effectively to achieve process, performance, and ultimately outcome goals.

  • Consistency, Persistence, and Motivation: Being a consistent, persistent, and motivated athlete is critical to the success of your goals. Motivation and passion fuel your consistency. Consistency and persistency help build momentum and trust in yourself (yes, more of that, please!), while developing discipline and confidence. Don’t worry if these aren’t your top characteristics – these can be short-term goals in the making!

  • Developing New Learning Strategies: Developing new learning strategies is crucial for any athlete. Learning helps to improve cognitive skills, emotional awareness, and technical skills, necessary techniques to reach your optimal performance.

  • Increasing Self-Efficacy: Self-efficacy is the belief in yourself that you have the ability to achieve your goals. You know, the I CAN run a sub 4:00 marathon or I CAN go for a walk five times a week! Increasing self-efficacy allows you to increase your confidence, thus leading to a more optimized performance.

Dream Big in Yellow Alphabet Letter

Effective Goal Setting


Effective goal setting is a five-step process, but it does not have to be an arduous task. The first step of the goal setting process is the intake, assessment, and scheduling phase. This phase helps you access the current state of your performance, pinpointing areas of potential weakness. Special attention should be given to the factors that could be inhibiting you from reaching optimal performance – physicality, cognitive skills, emotion, or a combination of these factors. Step #1 done and on to Step 2!


The second step of the goal setting process is the education phase. This phase helps you understand effective goal setting principles (i.e., using SMART goals, creating short- and long-term goals, and balancing outcome, performance, process goals). Understanding these principles will help you improve your performance and achieve your goals. Let’s move on to Step 3!


Goal - Plan - Action

The third step in the goal setting process is the acquisition phase. This phase helps you prepare your goal setting strategy and where you create those all-important SMART goals (remember, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and include a time element). When constructing your goal setting strategy, it is imperative to include a mix of the goals we have previously discussed – outcome, performance, and process goals, as well as short- and long-term goals. It is important for us to note that the volume (i.e., number) of goals should match the time spent in training or competition. If you only decide to make competition goals and ignore goals involving training, you are not maximizing your goal setting strategy and thus, will not benefit as greatly. Do not forget, goals can be centered around most anything – think, motivation, mental focus, and/or anything else you feel you would benefit from setting a goal. Now that the big Step 3 is out of the way, let us dive into Step 4!


The fourth step in the goal setting process is the practice, implementation, and evaluation phase. This phase is where you implement the SMART goals you created in the previous phase. It should be noted that you cannot just create goals and forget about them, as goals need to be evaluated (1) to keep you accountable and (2) to adjust when needed. Believe us, there is nothing wrong with needing to readjust your goals! In fact, those who readjust their goals will see a higher performance because of the readjustment. Our favorite two goal setting theorists, Locke and Latham, “found that in 17 [of] 18 studies, goals plus feedback produced significantly higher performance than goals alone”. [1,3] Definitely pay special attention to goal evaluation as this is an incredibly critical part of this phase. And just like that we have arrived at Step 5!


The fifth (and final!) step in the goal setting process is the self-regulation phase. This phase puts you in charge of your goal setting process. You become responsible for the implementation and evaluation of your goals – yes, we know this is what you have been waiting for! This next, and final point is important: be honest with yourself during evaluation as you are using your feedback to improve, but please, do not be over critical! Success is just a goal away!


A Final Note on Goal Setting


“Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t”. [4] So, what does that tell us?


Write. Down. Your. Goals.


People with Goals Succeed Because They Know Where They're Going

The reason for writing your goals down comes in two forms: external storage and encoding. External storage refers to an external (i.e., written) form of your goals – something you can see and look at. Encoding refers to the fact that “when you write it down it has a much greater chance of being remembered”. [4] Writing down your goals is a critical step to an effective goal setting strategy, but it often is not enough to just write them down. You must make sure you can see your goals – preferably every day! Put your goals in a spot you can easily see as a reminder of the greatness you want to achieve. This will make the process of evaluating and readjusting that much easier.

 

Well, there you have it… our epic short series on goal setting! You totally loved it, right!?! If you have yet to set any goals for 2024, what are you waiting for!?! We hope your year is off to an incredible start and truly hope our epic short series on goal setting helps make 2024 your best year yet!

Happy Sunday and all our love! ❤️ Kelly & Alayna


References:

[1] Weinberg, R. S. (2013). Goal Setting in Sport and Exercise: Research and Practical Applications. Revista da Educação Física / UEM, 24(2), 171-179. doi: 10.4025/reveducfis.v24.2.17524

[2] Kyllo, L. B. & Landers, D. M. (1995). Goal Setting in Sport and Exercise: A Research Synthesis to Resolve the Controversy. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17(2), 117-137. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsep.17.2.117

[3] Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (1985). The Application of Goal Setting to Sports. Journal of Sport Psychology, 7(3), 205-222. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsp.7.3.205

[4] Murphy, M. (2018). Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2018/04/15/neuroscience-explains-why-you-need-to-write-down-your-goals-if-you-actually-want-to-achieve-them/?sh=2c65776a7905


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