The S.M.A.R.T. principle
- Set Specific Goals. Research shows that specific goals are the most motivating. A specific goal is to reduce your 5K time by 30 seconds within 6 months. Many people just say they want to get faster. This goal is far too general to really motivate you in your training.
- Set Measurable Goals. Simply saying that you want to get faster is not enough detail. You need to be able to chart and document progress toward your goal. One way to measure your progress is to document your performance at set intervals. In the above example you may want to time your 5K performance once a month so you have a good measurement.
- Set Adjustable Goals. This means your goals are flexible enough to accommodate unexpected challenges without becoming obsolete. An injury may force your to modify your goal. If you goal is too run a certain marathon and you are injured, you may need to change your goal to do the half marathon, or some other event. An injury doesn't need to mean you abandon all your plans. At the same time, you may find you are progressing quickly and need to raise your goal.
- Set Action-Oriented Goals Another important aspect of goal-setting to to keep them focused on personal action. Don't forget to consider not only what you want to achieve, but how you plan to acieve it. Consider reading How to Design a Personal Exercise Program and The Principles of Sports Conditioning for tips on fitness training plans.
Goal setting is an art as well as a science, but if you make sure your goals follow the S.M.A.R.T. formula, you will find you are more likely to stay motivated and reach goal after goal.