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Goal Setting

Goal setting is a mental training technique that can be used to increase an individual's commitment towards achieving a personal goal. Having a short or long term goal can encourage an individual to work harder, to be more focused on the task and to overcome setbacks more easily.

Goal setting, is a technique pioneered by Locke (1968)[1], effects performance in four ways:

  • focuses attention
  • mobilises effort in proportion to the demands of the task
  • enhances persistence
  • encourages the individual to develop strategies for achieving their goals

Outcome Goals

Outcome goals are to do with winning or performing better than someone else. They refer to the desired end result e.g. selected to represent your national team. These can be highly motivating long term goals but as they not under the individuals control and are affected by how others perform, they are limited without related process and performance goals.

Process Goals

Process goals, over which the individual has complete control, deal with the technique or strategy necessary to perform well. Process goals can also be established to map the route to achieving the desired outcome goal.

Examples of process goals are:

  • maintain controlled rhythm in the long jump run up
  • run at 5 minute mile pace
  • engage legs before arms when throwing the discus
  • use a pre-event routine before each high jump

Process goals help focus attention and are very effective in helping to control anxiety.

Performance Goals

Performance goals specify a specific standard to be achieved. Performance goals are about personal standards (for a runner this might be a time for a specific distance {33 minutes for 10km}) and as such are unaffected by the performance of others and so totally under the control of the individual.

Performance goals can be used to monitor achievement of process goals and progress towards the deisred outcome goal.

Performance goals encourage the development of mastery and can make a performer feel satisfied with a performance even if they do not win.

SMARTER

Outcome Goals, Process Goals and Performance Goals all need to be SMARTER:

  • Specific - make them as precise and detailed as possible
  • Measurable - a method by which you can quantify or rate your current position and then determine the amount of improvement required
  • Accepted - goals need to be shared and negotiated with all others involved
  • Realistic - the goal is realistic yet challenging
  • Time phased - date is st for when the goal is to be achieved by
  • Exciting - goal motivates the individual
  • Recorded - the goal and progress towards it are recorded

GROW Model

As a coach or mentor, you may help others to solve problems, make better decisions, learn new skills or otherwise progress in their role or career. One proven approach that helps with this is the GROW model (Whitmore 1992)[2].

  • G for goal find out what they want to work on/discuss, and their specific goal for the mentoring session and the short and long term goals
  • R for reality - ask questions that help them to think about the current situation related to the goal. This means asking questions that raise awareness and promote self-reflection and thinking.
  • O for option encourage them to generate as many options as possible without judging them. This is the time to help them to think outside the box to find more creative solutions. If they have run out of ideas, they may ask you for further ideas or you may wish to offer suggestions (if agreed)
  • W for will use questions to help them determine which option to take, how and when to take it. Agree the first step(s)

Conclusion

Goal setting is not just about identifying what you want to achieve but also how you will achieve it (process goals) and measure that achievement (performance goals). When challenging goals are broken down into realistic steps and then systemically achieved motivation, commitment and self-confidence will grow.

Goals must be set according to the age, stage of development, confidence, ability and motivation of the individual. Beginners require very short term easily achieved goals to boost their self-confidence whereas the experienced individual need more challenging yet realistic goals.

Referenced Material

  1. LOCKE, E. (1968) Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives. Organ. Behav. Hum. Perform, 3, p. 157-189
  2. WHITMORE, J. (1992) Coaching For Performance: Growing People, Performance and Purpose, 4th ed. London, Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Associated References

  • LOCKE, E. A., and LATHAM, G. P. (1990) A theory of goal setting & task performance. Prentice-Hall, Inc.
  • LOCKE, E. A., and LATHAM, G. P. (2002) Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American psychologist, 57 (9), p. 705

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2007) Goal Setting [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/goals.htm [Accessed

Associated Pages

The following Sports Coach pages should be read in conjunction with this page: