“SMART” Goal Setting

Feature by Chelsea Howard

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania, October 31. YOGI Berra, a former major league baseball player, once said, "If you don't know where you're going, you might wind up somewhere else."

I've heard this saying several times with a few words changed here or there, but I never really thought about what Berra meant until recently. You can follow the literal meaning – if you don't know where you're going basically you're going to get lost. But there is a much deeper, more thought-provoking meaning that relates to all athletes pertaining to goals.

Particularly in swimming, when the daily grind can get the best of you, having short term and long term goals will guide you towards the right direction. Of course you have to be disciplined or accountable and follow the direction of your goals, but aiming in a certain direction and having an end point to all of the hard work put in leads to a more focused athlete.

"Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation," according to the article "Personal Goal Setting" published by mindtools.com.

How hard can goal setting be? You just say you want to win your events at this meet or that you want to go 23.4 in the 50 free and hope it happens. Well, not exactly.

Sports psychologists have gone beyond just the standard short term and long term goals and have broken down goal setting into two different categories -"process" and "outcome" goals.

"Outcome goals are related to winning and losing or specific results of a competition while process goals are what the athlete should focus on when performing a skill and how they prepare for competition," according to Alan S. Kornspan, author of Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

Everyone has their own way of going about setting goals, but I found the ideas of George Doran, a successful business man, to be the most helpful in understanding all of the factors that help you benefit from setting goals. Even though his goals are directed towards business management, they can easily be applied to setting swimming goals.

Doran introduced his ideas of goal setting through the acronym "S.M.A.R.T".

The first component is setting specific goals. He states that the goal should be clear and answer what you want to accomplish. Specific goals should also answer the six "W" questions – Who is involved? What do you want to accomplish? Where? When? And Why – what are the purposes or benefits of completing these goals?

The next component to consider is if your goals are Measurable. This helps you judge whether or not you are on the right track and helps you figure out where to go after the completion of some of your smaller goals. Having measurable goals can also help build the swimmers confidence knowing that they have accomplished something, no matter how big or small.

Then comes the question of how Attainable or realistic are your goals? Although it is important to set high goals, it's just as important to set goals that the swimmer knows are within reach. An attainable goal helps to find previously overlooked opportunities and helps to bring someone closer to achievement.

Along with attainable goals, you have to ask yourself if your goals are Relevant. Goals have to be something the swimmer makes a commitment towards achieving and really wants to achieve. They have to act as motivation and the goal setter must believe it can be achievable, eliminating the fear of failure from the equation.

Finally, Doran finished the acronym with Time. Awareness of a commitment to a "deadline" or time frame helps the individual focus and not stray away from the objectives on their minds. It also establishes a sense of urgency for the swimmer to stay aware of their ultimate goal.

Whether it's focusing on new stroke techniques or finishing top three at end of the season meets, there's only one place to start. And that begins with setting goals the right way. Go ahead, take out a pen and paper and look internally for what you are trying to accomplish. You may even surprise yourself.

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Author: Archive Team


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