A goal is a desired outcome that can be achieved or completed. Once achieved, it is “done” and can be crossed off the list. For example, the desire might be to become a better cricket player and gain selection to a particular team. A goal is like a mountain or river you wish to cross on your westward journey. Once you have gone over it, it’s a “done deal”. For example, the goal might be to increase one’s batting average by 10 runs.
When goal setting, making sure your goals are SMARTr goals is very important. This refers to 6 key components related to the goal.
Firstly, the goal must be SPECIFIC. That is, you must specify the precise actions you will take. This refers to when and where you will do something, as well as who or what is involved. For example, a non-specific goal might be “I will become the strongest athlete in my team”, while a specific goal might be “I will increase my 5 rep max bench press by 15 kgs in the next 12 weeks”.
Secondly, the goal must be MEANINGFUL. That is, the goal must be personally meaningful to you. It must be guided by your values, what is important to you and the kind of athlete you want to become. It must be an exciting and worthy goal. This is essential to maintaining motivation while you pursue it. If a goal is not meaningful, you will be much more likely to give up along the way.
Thirdly, the goal must be ADAPTIVE. Ask yourself whether this goal will help take your life or career forwards in a direction that, as far as you can predict, is likely to improve your life or career.
Fourthly, it is important that the goal is REALISTIC. Is the goal realistically achievable? How likely are you going to be able to achieve this goal? Take into account your health and fitness, competing demands on your time, financial status, and whether you have the skills to achieve it. If not, you will probably lose motivation to obtain the goal. Making realistic goals helps you stay committed to the goal.
Fifthly, the goal should be TIME BOUND. Set a day, date and time for it, or as accurate a time limit as you can. Setting a timeframe for your goals firms up the priority of the goal and lets you know when you have achieved this goal. Without an “end time” point, you won’t know when the goal has been reached.
Finally, it is important to REVIEW, RECORD, and REFLECT on your goals. Write down your goals and review and reflect on a regular basis to make any necessary adjustments or improvements.
Along with following these guidelines, goal “stepping” is important. One you have identified what area you want to work on (e.g., batting, bowling, speed, movement skills, general fitness and or technique), set an IMMEDIATE GOAL. It is always good to start with a small achievable goal. Ask yourself: “What is the smallest, easiest thing, I can do today or tomorrow that is consistent with moving me in this direction?”. For exmaple, if the area you picked was fitness, perhaps the small goal will be to do a circuit workout in the afternoon.
Next set some SHORT-TERM GOALS. These are goals to achieve in the near future. Ask yourself: “What small things can I do over the next few days/weeks that are consistent with moving in this direction?” Remember a SMARTr goal is more likely to maximise success so be specific in setting these short-term goals. For example, you may set a goal of doing either some hill sprints, a circuit workout or interval training 3 afternoons a week for the next 4 weeks.
Setting MEDIUM-TERM GOALS is also useful. These are larger challenges for the next few weeks or months. Ask yourself: “What larger challenges can I set for the next few weeks and months that will help me move in this direction?” For example, medium-term goals related to fitness might be to maintain interval training 3 times a week for the next 4 months.
Next comes LONG-TERM GOALS. Allow yourself to think big here. Ask yourself: “What major challenges can I set for the next few years which take me in this valued direction?” Long-term goals may include anything from winning competitions and titles to being selected for teams. In setting these goals, allow yourself to dream.
Lastly, it is important to identify any BARRIERS that may prevent you from reaching any of these short-, medium- or long-term goals. Barriers can be psychological, physical or practical. Psychological barriers include thoughts, feelings and beliefs that can interfere in you working towards and achieving a given goal. Physical and practical barriers include financial problems, health issues, weather, family and other commitments. Working through how you might OVERCOME these barriers is important. Some barriers can be viewed as problems and PROBLEM-SOLVING strategies can be used to address them. Other barriers cannot be changed and in these cases, MINDFULNESS skills can be used to accept these barriers and continue working towards your goals despite them.