How to Set Goals

A SMART goal is an effective goal

At the beginning of the year the “New Years Resolution” itch is setting in for most.  Resolutions are of course really goals.  Like most elite athletes, I have set my share of goals in my career: win a match, win a tournament, make the national team, and win a Paralympic medal.

Goals need not only be sport related.  I have also set and achieved the goals of moving out of my parents’ house, getting accepted to university, and graduating.  I give motivational talks in schools with the Esteem Team, a group of inspirational Olympic, Paralympic, professional and elite athletes.  We always share a concrete and simple tool to help make sure that goals are as effective as possible.

We apply the SMART acronym to make sure that we set smart goals.

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Action

R: Realistic

T: Timeline

The SMART acronym helps change a hypothetical goal from “I want to get stronger” to “I want to bench press 250 lbs. on or before January 1st, 2014.”  The goal “I want to bench press 300 lbs. by tomorrow” would also get weeded out, since it does not satisfy the Realistic SMART requirement.  An immediate Action (A of SMART) could be to hit the gym three times per week.

Goal setting does not have to be complicated, but the targeted results of effective goal setting can be staggering.  Anyone who has ever set a tough goal and achieved it knows how good it feels.

As you embark into 2013, I will leave you with two more things to consider.  Business consultant Peter Bregmen advocates for not setting goals at all, but strategic directions.  Musician and entrepreneur (creator of CD Baby) Derek Sivers advises us not to announce our goals – if we do, it feels like we have already done a lot of work; keeping them to ourselves might motivate us more.

Whatever your plans for 2013, remember:

You don’t know what you can do.  Try and surprise yourself.