By Kate Bennett, PsyD
Sunday was a big day in sports for Colorado athletes, teams, and fans: Katie Compton defended her tenth consecutive national cyclocross championship in Boulder while, down the road, Peyton Manning advanced in the playoffs for the first time in his career, taking the Broncos to the AFC championship. Between the enthusiasm of Dave Towle’s (cyclocross announcer) voice, the crowds at ‘cross nationals, and excitement for the Bronco’s win, motivation and eagerness for 2014 settled in and brought to mind the idea of goal setting. Feeling driven and motivated are essential components for success; however, without focus and commitment such traits may not lead in the direction you hope for.
Goal setting seems like a simple concept but actually takes serious consideration to increase your chances of success. Let’s start with the different types of goals: Outcome and process goals. Outcome goals, also known as long-term goals, focus on the big picture, the result or outcome you aspire to achieve. Process goals, sometimes thought of as short-term goals, build upon one another towards a more significant achievement. For example, if you identify a specific race or competition that you would like to win in 2014 (outcome goal), it is equally as important to identify specific actions that you will execute to build towards success (process goals).
Now that you are thinking about outcome and process goals, let’s focus on defining those goals. All goals, regardless of being process- or outcome-oriented, need to be SMART. The SMART acronym enables you to identify and evaluate important details of identified goals. Essentially, SMART goals set you up for success.
S: Specific-Identify what you want to accomplish and how
M: Measurable-Describe what you will measure and how
A: Achievable and Acceptable-Visualize yourself achieving the goal and set meaningful goals for yourself
R: Realistic-Identify goals that reflect your abilities and potential as well as challenge you
T: Time Sensitive-Create a timeline for your goal
Brainstorming is only the start of goal setting. Take time to write your goals down. This will not only clarify your identified goals but will also increase your level of commitment to those goals. If you want to commit yourself even further, share them with a coach, teammate, friend, or family member. Remember, your thoughts lead to your reality. The more time you spend developing SMART goals, the more likely it is that they will come to fruition.