“Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.” – Bo Jackson

Let’s face it – all of us have set goals that we didn’t meet.  Sometimes these goals aren’t met because we set too lofty of goals.  Sometimes these goals aren’t met because we procrastinate and put off things that we know we need to do but we don’t want to or are too busy.  Sometimes we don’t meet our goals because we just don’t know how to get there. This is commonplace in many people’s lives. Through using goal setting techniques that are easy to understand, we can start by trying to figure out what goals are right for us!

SMART goals are goals that are set using a process that goes along with the acronym.  SMART is an acronym for:  

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Specific

A good example of this sort of goal an athlete might set is:

A basketball player who wants to improve shooting efficiency deciding to try to average above a 50 percent foul shot percentage for the entire season.  

There are many types of goals that a student-athlete can set.  A performance goal is one that most athletes set without even knowing it.  They, like in the example above, set a benchmark of achievement and strive for it.  However, there are two other specific types of goals that can also be set. Outcome goals are a popular choice for many goal-setters.  This is when an athlete creates a big-picture goal that usually references a game win, a title or even just making it onto a team.  A high school hockey player might set an outcome goal for his team to make it to the state finals. An Olympic-hopeful diver might set an outcome goal of making the Olympic Team.  A famous basketball player, Michael Jordan, set an outcome goal in his junior year in high school to make the varsity basketball team since he was cut his sophomore year. He worked very hard on his gameplay and played hard in every junior varsity game.  This hard work paid off in his junior year.

Another type of goal is a process goal.  These goals usually directly connect to performance goals where they incorporate the everyday aspects of meeting their larger performance and outcome goals.  This usually means that these goals require practice, commitment, and even frustration. An example might be a golf competitor setting a goal to make 20 long putts per day from various spots on the green.  

Student-Athletes will find that most goals that they set are focused around their sport.  The good news is, you can also set goals for your education as well! You can set performance goals (I want an A in all of my classes), outcome goals (I want to earn an Academic Achievement award), or a process goal (I will study at least 3 hours a night).  So how does a Student-Athlete start?  

First:  Set goals that are difficult but realistic to achieve.  Sometimes if you set unrealistic goals, they can create stress and doubt in your ability.  Your goals should require you to dig deep but be realistic.  

Second:  Follow the SMART goal formula.  Pick a goal that is specific, measurable and attainable.  

Third:  Set short term and long term goals.  You can easily break up a long term goal into smaller short term goals.

Fourth:  Write down your goals.  This is really important.  Not only will you be able to go back and re-read and re-commit to goals but it also is something you can share with your coaches, teachers, and learning coaches.  

Fifth:  Like the last step mentions, it is important that you are not doing this goal setting in a bubble.  Talk to your parents, coaches, teachers, tutors, and peers about your goals. They will help you with their own area of expertise.  

Goal setting can be fun…especially when you reach those goals and get to see that all of your hard work has paid off!!

-Written by USPA History Teacher, Amy Richard

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