I mentioned goals in my last post; the importance of having something concrete to achieve in order to keep motivation and make you work harder.
Goals and goal setting is a wide topic, goals can be short-term, long-term, process, outcome goals etc. So I thought I’ll probably get back to the topic of goals another time as well but for now, I wanted to share with you something I came across the other week whilst doing my coursework. It’s a type of goal-setting called SMART-system.
Basically, according to some researchers (source) in order to design effective goals the goals should be Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic and Timed (SMART).
When you think about it it makes sense and they are all pretty self-explanatory. For example, if they are not specific and measurable how would you know you’ve reached them, they should involve action of some sort and be based on the performance, realistic so they are actually achievable and they should have a set date when they need to be accomplished by.
What was most interesting to me was that some people have suggested it to be called SMARTER goal setting because they have added two additional components to the acronym: Elastic and Repeatable. Repeatable, again is quite self-explanatory, the goal behaviour should be repeated so it’s sure that it’s been reached before moving on. Elasticity is the one I found most interesting for myself. It means that the goals shouldn’t just be set to one specific target (e.g. time when talking about running goals) but rather they should be flexible and be set within a window. So let’s say your goal is to run a 4 min/km; then your one-point target would be 4:00 but it would be better to have a target of 3:40-4:20. It’s argued that these goals are better because they will sound more achievable and decrease the risk of self-fulfilling prophecy (another fancy psychology term). Self-fulfilling prophecy is just simply defined as something coming true (positive or negative) because of you believing it will come true. As an example, if you had set yourself a target of 4 minutes and you had an amazing day and could have ran faster than 4 minutes you might end up with the time of 4 min just beacuse that was the goal you set and aimed to achieve. (It’s like one of those where if you go to an interview thinking you won’t get the job you probably won’t). So the point is that it’s good to have the flexiblity to prevent self-limiting mind-set in the case of a good day.
For my running events I’ve almost always set myself very specific goals that have not had any flexibility really and I can see now that they’ve definitely been self-limiting. Last year I set myself a random goal time of 1:39 for a half marathon and I ran exactly that. Few months later I had another half marathon and I picked 1:37 as a goal (just arbitrarily because I like odd numbers more than even numbers :D) and I ran 1:37. I don’t know if I could have run faster because the whole race all I was focusing on was to get 1:37. Again, in a 5k this year I wanted to run sub 22 min. I had been injured and didn’t think I was very fit but thought sub 22 should be doable. As I was running I realised I can do sub 22 and I just hang on to my pace without thinking that maybe I should adjust my goal and aim or a faster time. I finished in 21:06, which later on I was gutted about as I was close to sub 21. Just because I told myself that my goal is sub 22 I almost “gave up” during the run and didn’t push myself after I noticed I can get to sub 22. Now that I’ve read about the elasticity and having window target I will definitely set my next goals accordingly and not to one specific time. You never know if your going to have a good or bad day so there’s no point of limiting yourself by setting such limited goals. My goals have probably come true due to self-fulfilling prophecy before and as tempted as I am to set my next half marathon goal to 1:35, instead it will have to be something in between 1:32-1:35.. Just in case I have that exceptionally good day.
My instagram photo from yesterday related to those good running days here.
I wonder if anyone else has made similar mistakes and limited themselves with these type of goals. Maybe not, maybe it’s just me. But I hope some of you find that useful, and if you don’t run you can relate that type of SMARTER- goal setting to other aspects of life too.
It’s kind of like when eating Ben and Jerrys, you should never limit yourself by thinking you can’t finish the whole tub by yourself…. 🙂
Enjoy rest of your weekend! Hope you are up to something more exciting than me. I am having a very quiet Saturday night with my boys Ben and Jerry ready for my long run tomorrow.
Nos da! xx