I often talk about the importance of having a goal to direct your training – but how do you set a goal?
I’ve got two methods I usually give to clients.
Write a SMART Goal:
SMART goals are used pretty regularly in the world of business. A smart goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
A vague goal would be “I want to run faster.” How much faster? 1 second per kilometre? By when? 10 years from now? SMART goals make your timeline and your achievement clear. A SMARTer version of this goal would be “I want to improve my 10km time to 45 minutes by January 31, 2021.”
Specific – you’ve set the exact time goal you want.
Measurable – all you need to do is run that route and time yourself to measure if you’ve hit that goal!
Achieveable – this depends on you (and may be where some advice from an exercise specialist can be helpful). If you’re already running 10km in 49 minutes, then sure, this could be a goal. If you’re only running 5km right now and it takes you 40 minutes? Likely a little out of reach (for now!).
Realistic/Relevant – The R is sometimes used to refer to “realistic,” or “relevant.”
Realistic: So let’s say you are running 5km in 40 minutes. Your timeline (January 31, 2021) is unrealistic to almost double your distance in almost the same amount of time. But if you expand that timeline out further and set mini-goals along the way? Then it could become more realistic to achieve.
Relevant: Is the goal relevant to you? Sometimes realism comes into play here too. Is this a goal that excites you? Is it relevant to what you really want to achieve in the long-term? Is it related to what motivates you deep down to be the better version of yourself? (You’ll read more on that in a minute!).
Timely – setting a date makes you more likely to put the work in to do it!
A bonus factor? Tell someone (or a lot of people!) about your goal. Accountability keeps us working. Feel free to leave your goal in the comments below if you want to share and make it happen!
My other method, less conventional method for goal-setting:
Snappy name, right?
This method works a little better for non-athletes, like my rehab clients who are looking to integrate exercise into their lifestyles as a means of recovery from injury or illness.
Spend some time tapping into your values to connect with why establishing a physical activity routine is important to you.
You can do this in conjunction with SMART goal setting, as it can actually strengthen your drive to achieve the goal you set out to achieve (strengthening your “why,” – why you’re doing what you’re doing).
This is a lot looser than specific goal-setting. You’re going to try to get to know the part of yourself who wants the best for yourself. I recommend doing this as a written exercise (kind of like a journal entry or stream of consciousness). This is usually particularly helpful for people trying to effect habit change (e.g. improving your physical activity levels).
Essentially, you’re going to sit down and you ask yourself (in written form): Why do I want to be physically active? Write the answer. Then, “Why is important to me?” Write the answer to that. Rinse and repeat.
Your motivation could be something related to strength, stamina, or function. Deep down it could be related to some desire to stay fit and healthy enough to play with your grandkids. Think about why you want to exercise, and keep asking yourself further questions about your motivations and needs (in written form), and probing deeper and further until you feel you know what you really want out of your training sessions and what you hope to achieve.
Interested in how I can help you meet your goals? Check out my services here.