Athletes and coaches understand the importance of setting goals. Whether they are based on the individual or team, goal setting is ingrained in sport culture. To accomplish a performance breakthrough or to achieve success, goal setting is the catalyst. American basketball player and coach John Wooden understood this. He used the power of goal setting most notably in his career as the head coach of the UCLA men’s basketball team, where he won 10 NCAA Division I championships – including a string of wins from 1967 to 1973. His success on the court led to many books on goal setting and leadership, most notably his book on the Pyramid of Success.
Needless to say, there are a lot of things we can take away from the past greats, but if there is a quote to launch us into goal setting and motivation, may it be this;
“The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move.” — John Wooden
Despite our best intentions, goals are tricky. It’s why there are hundreds of books and research papers written on this topic. But if we are to break it down into five principles it would be summed up by S-M-A-R-T. SMART goals originated from Dr. Edwin Locke, Dr. Gary Latham, and their goal-setting theory of motivation – first proposed over 50 years ago. Sparing the details, the theory is commonly known as SMART goals. The acronym SMART provides a guideline for developing an action plan which is designed to motivate someone and keep them working towards a goal. Here’s how SMART goals work.
In other words, you should be asking your self “Is this goal(s) clear? Is there a definitive objective?” When answering these questions you should be able to answer who, what, where, when and why. John Wooden once said, “For an athlete to function properly, he must be intent. There has to be a definite purpose and goal if you are to progress.”
Your goal should be MEASURABLE
Feedback is an important aspect of goal-setting and productivity. Receiving quantitative and qualitative feedback allows one to access their progress and manage expectations.
Set goals that are ATTAINABLE
The goal must be both realistic and challenging. In their 50 years of research, Locke and Latham have shown that more specific and ambitious goals lead to a greater performance improvement than simple goals. As long as the individual accepts the goal themselves and has the ability, there is an apparent linear relationship with goal difficulty and performance improvement.
Make goals that are RELEVANT to you
Locke and Latham found that goals are something that people intrinsically value. However, just because something is intrinsically valuable, it is important to access whether the goal is relevant to other long term goals and challenges your current skillset. If not, there may need to be a few other short term goals before this one.
Make goals with a TIMELY checkpoint
There should be a date where you not only ‘check-in’ but also when you are targeting completion. The goals that are left with a date of TBD often get procrastinated, pushed off and entirely forgotten about.
Whether you are setting goals for your team – in the boardroom or the locker room – or for yourself, set goals that drive you forward, not backward.