Goal setting is the process of identifying objectives that you would like to achieve, that is measurable and by when. There are 3 types of goals:
Outcome goals are basically goals that are result based. For these goals, the concern is not about how you are going to get to the goal, but rather solely focused on the end. For instance, I would like to win the gold medal in a 100m dash. That is my target, it doesn’t matter what how I do it, but I just need to win.
Process goals are basically goals that focus more on the approach towards the outcome you would like to accomplish. These are the type of goals that you set with specific strategies that will facilitate your pathway towards the end goal. For example, I will train 5 times a week to become faster and ultimately win the 100m dash.
Performance goals are basically goals that set a standard in your performance to help you work towards reaching the outcome you want. For example, using the example given in the outcome goal above, performance goals would be to run 11.5seconds for the 100m on my first race. Then, to run 11.2 seconds for the 100m in the second race. Lastly, to run 10.9 seconds for the 100m in the third race and win the gold medal.
How do we set goals?
One of the best ways to set effective goals is to use the characteristics of the S.M.A.R.T.E.R goal.
Goals should be clear and well defined. What exactly do you want to achieve? A bad example would be ‘I want to sprint faster’, ‘I want to score more points in a basketball game’. These goals are not specific. Instead set goals such as ‘I want to sprint the 100m in 10.9 seconds’ and ‘I want to score 10 points in a basketball game’.
There ought to be ways to track the progress so that you will be able to know when you have achieved it. Therefore, ask yourself the questions ‘how will I know I have achieved my goal’, ‘how do I see if I am getting closer towards my goals’.
An important aspect of the goal is to make sure your goals are achievable, something that you can reach. Your goals should be ambitious enough but not to the extent that it is not possible to attain. Because, at the end of the day, you will not commit to goals that are impossible.
The goals that you set should be related to your ultimate goal and direction you want in your life. For instance, you want to run a 100m in 10.9 seconds, your goals in between should be relevant in a sense that you aim for 11.8 then 11.5 and so on until you reach the ultimate goal. An example of a bad irrelevant goal is ‘I will run aim to run a 40mins 10km race’. Ultimately, your goal is to run a 100m in 10.9 seconds, how will a 40 mins 10km goal be relevant to your ultimate goal?
Time-bound is about having an actual and specific dateline you will want to hit your goals. Having a dateline will help you work more effectively towards the goal. A thing to avoid when setting goals is to not give yourself a dateline. Don’t set a goal that you will hit ‘someday’ or ‘soon’. Because, when is someday? How soon is soon? Without the actual time, other things might become your priority instead.
Goals should be evaluated regularly. You have to assess your situation and whether you are on track. Sometimes, things will change too and regularly evaluation yourself will help you adapt to changes. If you do not do this, you will realize those goals might become impossible to achieve
Re-evaluating is not the same as evaluate, don’t get confused. The purpose of re-evaluating is to evaluate the entire process of your goal setting, all the way to you reaching your goals. It is important for this step because, in life, there will be a lot more instances whereby we have to set goals. And it will be a lot easier and faster in reaching your goals if you review your current process, benefiting your future goal setting and achievements because you already have gone through and experience the mistakes and successes.
Short-term, Mid-term, Long-term goals
Goals are done in various ways. There are your long-term goals, sort of like the umbrella of all goals. You can see it as the ultimate objective you want to achieve, which is made up of mid-term goals and short-term goals. The duration of each goal is largely dependent on how you determine it.
Long-term goals are essentially like the name suggests; it is loooooooooooong. It is your overall dream that you want to reach. The goals can take up to years to achieve. Let’s say, in this case, the long-term goal will take 3 years to reach, which leads to the next point. The mid-term goals, which can take 1 year to achieve.
Mid-term goals. These goals are basically goals that help you reach towards your long term goals. You set these goals in a way that it is relevant to your ultimate goal. Remember, the point of mid-term goals are so you can reach your long-term goals, hence, do not set goals that will deviate you from the path towards your overall goals.
Lastly, there are short-term goals. These goals are basically the immediate goals that you want to hit. It is short, it could be in the next few days, weeks or months. These goals are like the foundation to your long-term goals, it helps build the long-term goals.
A very important thing to note is that, just because a goal is short-term, or mid-term does not make it less important than a long-term goal. They are all important, they work in tandem. Hence, when you are setting these goals, always remember to use the S.M.A.R.T.E.R goals strategy to ensure that the goals you set are effective.
Why should we set goals?
Why is it beneficial to set goals? Studies have shown that goal setting affects performances in organizations and in sports, through affecting traits such as effort, persistence, attention and motivation. Furthermore, goals that are specific and challenging enough results in better performances as compared to goals that are not specific and too easy. The usage of short-term goals helps by facilitating the achievement of long-term goals (Locke & Latham, 1985).
In terms of sports and athletic environment, goal setting has shown to affect anxiety, motivation and confidence. Focusing on performance goals will help form realistic expectations of the goal, which increases the level of confidence, lower levels of anxiety and more motivation. Essentially, it enhances performances (Burton, 1983). Hence, the importance of setting short, mid and long-term goals focusing on the process the leads to the outcome is illustrated.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1985). The application of goal setting to sports. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7(3), 205-222.
Horn, T. S. (2008). Advances in sport psychology. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.