Many things can go wrong when setting goals. It is important that the goal setting accomplishes one main goal: Motivation. We don’t set goals to tear us down and rip us apart with our inability to meet them. We set goals to give us focus and determination and accomplishment. There are a number of factors that can keep an athlete’s goals from producing motivation. An often used goal setting tool that athletic trainers and educators use is the S.M.A.RT. method. I strongly recommend testing any goal against it to make sure you are successful in your endeavors.
What not to do: Next year I am going to complete a triathlon.
What to do: Next year I am going to complete the Kirkland Sprint Triathlon.
What is the difference? Specificity. It is important to decide on the distance and the time and place. A vague goal is difficult to know when it has been accomplished.
What not to do: I am going to run faster next year.
What to do: Using interval track workouts I am going to increase my mile speed by 30 seconds per mile for a 10k distance.
What is the difference? You can measure the speed change. You have a clear idea of where you are starting at and a clear idea of where you want to be.
What not to do: I want to start triathlons and win every race I compete in.
What to do: I am going to participate in 3 triathlons this year and accomplish a personal record for each event.
What is the difference? If you can’t actually win your triathlons then you will not be successful long term when you make that a goal. It is better to set personal goals that you can achieve until you know you have a possibility of winning your events.
What not to do: Next year I am going to do the couch to Iron distance triathlon program.
What to do: Next year I will complete sprint and olympic distance triathlons with a goal of working up to an Iron distance in the future.
What is the difference? While you can go straight to an Iron distance race from the couch in a year, it isn’t likely that you will continue for long in the sport with that kind of increase in distance in such a short period of time. But the likelihood of you making it to that race without getting injured or sick is pretty low. Make sure you are giving yourself a realistic goal because if it is impossible for you to accomplish it you won’t find your motivation.
What not to do: I would like to do a triathlon someday.
What to do: In 2014, I will complete my first triathlon.
What is the difference? Putting a time on it to know if you accomplished your goal or not. It isn’t a goal if there is no point where you decide if you met your objective or not.
The new year is coming, event registrations are open, and I hope this helps you in setting your goals. If you work hard and set your goals properly the motivation can carry you into a long and active life.