While it may be cliche to sit down and look over your goals on New Year’s Eve, it is appropriate time for planning your yearly calendar. Most of us have ample time to prepare, as our target events are months away. Although any time is a good time to set health and fitness goals, the New Year reminds us to do so. Here are some tips for setting goals for the upcoming year.
There is the classic goal setting rule of when looking at goals to make sure they are “SMART” category. Smart = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time-based. The more I coach people and assist in their goal making process, the more I realize how important each of these different components become in setting good goals.
For example, if you just say “I want to be the best bike racer in Oregon,” that’s really not very specific. It’s really hard to measure, nor is there a timeline. Realistic – perhaps, but hard to measure. Lets change that to saying “It is my goal to win the 35+ Masters category at criterium championships in 2013” we are now hitting all of the “smart” aspects of goal setting with a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based.
After meeting these basic parameters, look at the next set of tools needed in effective goal-setting and completion.
Keep your language positive – How you speak of the goals can make a big difference. Be sure you are speaking in terms that speak to your current self. Use words that are a catalyst to make them happen. Use words like “I am” rather than “I will.” Other words to avoid are the “oulds”, as in “should”, “would”, “could”. Do not use words such as “not,” “can’t,” or “don’t” when you are talking or thinking about your goals. We are looking to create success in your goals, so avoid negativity. Use language that reinforces your habits to make positive direction in your goals, the first step to achieving them.
Avoid “want” in goal setting – Do not use “I want to” in goal setting. There is wanting something and there is doing something. Goal setting is about doing something. “I am going to” or “it is my goal to” are much better ways of stating your intentions with goal setting. Make sure your goals are defined in ways that are bridging the gap between wanting and having, that is the purpose of the goal in the first place. Use this in your overall goal setting language, and expand it to other words as well. Set your goals in words that you will hold you accountable and words that have you initiate the actions needed to achieve them.
Write it down! It may sound simple, but write your goals down! Once you come up with a good goal, write it down. Just setting it in paper, inscribed it with your own hands and movement brings it closer to you. It makes it that much more real. If you just talk about it, it disappears as soon as you stop talking about it or thinking about it. Write it down, make it real, and make it a constant in your training, life, and mind.
Now, at this point, go ahead and write down your goals for the year. Think of where you would like to see the greatest improvements in your fitness or results using the above strategies. Determine the factors that go into achieving your goal and make smaller goals as benchmarks. Now it is time to start looking into how you will achieve your goal and what steps are needed to do so. Let’s say this is your goal: “It is my goal to win the 35+ Masters category at criterium championships in August of 2013.”
Now that we have a clear goal to focus on, it’s time to set smaller goals as steps in the process to achieve this goal. This is when you start looking at your limiters and what you need to focus on to improve them. This is also when a discussion with your coach typically begins, as the smaller goals become the building blocks of your training plan. This is a great time to review past power files, personal bests, weaknesses, race files, and any other data that will help you and your coach determine what your biggest limiters are for achieving your goal. Lets say you have good data from last years races, including power files from races, training rides, and field tests done with your power meter. Using these, we will get the greatest idea of what to focus on.
Lets look at a couple smaller goals that go into meeting your main goal and methods for measuring them:
- Increase threshold by 5% by July 20th – Measured with threshold testing either in the lab or field tests.
- Reduce braking in corners – being a successful crit racer is as much about technique in the race as it is fitness. Improvements here can be evident in speed changes while looking at race files, excessive power bursts out of corners in races(Especially if you can compare your files to another racer in the same field with similar physique and fitness). The less you brake before the corner the less you sprint after the corner!
- Improve sprinting mechanics – factors include cadence, power, speed, torque(which are evident in power files), and also largely technique. Sprinting technique is most evident to another person watching you, your coach can be a great eye in evaluating and making sprinting technique suggestions and also show you in your power files how the improvements in technique are improving in your speed and power!)
You will continue to make smaller and smaller goals that continue to support one another and also become more and more specific to what you need for making improvements. The more you break down the goal into smaller goals and tasks to complete, the more bench-marks you have along the way to keep you on track. Following this process develops goals that become more personal to your needs and become the ground work for a solid training plan.
Hopefully you are now able to see how making goals is an important step in achieving success in your training, and really shapes how training is to follow. I hope that this is has been helpful to you in setting your goals for the new year! For questions or comments, feel free to contact me!
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