If I were asked to teach you only one mental skill to help you “master your craft” it would definitely be goal setting. Goal setting is defined as the development of a detailed action plan that is designed to motivate and guide an individual towards the achievement of a personal goal.
There are a lot of people who don’t know what type of person they want to become and what they want to get out of their life. This is mainly due to the fact that they don’t take the time to identify and set their goals. Since we only have a finite amount of physical and mental energy at our disposal, it is vital that we focus our time, energy, and attention towards the achievement of something that is meaningful to us. You won’t ever be successful if your energy is scattered in every direction!
There are three main types of goals, but in this week’s blog post I will focus on “outcome goals”. “Outcome goals” are broad goals that involve a competitive result (comparing your performance to someone else’s). For example, your outcome goal could be to win a gold medal at the World Championships or be the top salesman in the nation.
Set aside quality time to complete this exercise. Give yourself a minimum of 20 minutes. Find a quiet place to sit comfortably and focus only on the task at hand. Take 3 deep breaths and relax (close your eyes if you need to). In your journal, write down short-term (can be achieved within the next 12 months) and long-term (can be achieved beyond the next 12 months) “outcome goals” that you want to achieve. This is a brainstorming session, so write down as many “outcome goals” as possible (you can refine them afterwards). Make sure your goals are specific.
Filby and colleagues (1999) examined the effectiveness of different types of goal setting strategies. 40 college students performed a soccer task and were split into 5 groups of 8 and matched for ability. The authors assigned the participants to 1 of 5 goal setting conditions: (1) outcome goal only; (2) outcome goal and process goal; (3) process goal only; (4) outcome, process, and performance goal; (5) or no goal. The college students were asked to train for 5 weeks and play in a skill competition at the end of the intervention. Their performance was measured during the competition as well as each practice session. The results revealed that the combined goal setting groups (outcome goal and process goal; outcome, process, and performance goal) significantly outperformed the singular-or no-goal setting groups (outcome goal only; process goal only; no goal).
These results demonstrate that setting goals can improve performance. Moreover, outcome goals can be effective, but they need to be paired with performance and process goals. I will cover performance, process, and S.M.A.R.T. goals in my next blog posts. So, stay tuned!
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
Filby, W., Maynard, I., & Graydon, J. (1999). The effect of multiple-goal strategies on performance outcomes in training and competition. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 11, 230-246.