While many of us are still to reach our 2018 ‘A’ race, for others, that time has already passed and the search for the next challenge is already underway.
It might be a good time to talk to your coach about your ideas for next year and seek their advice and guidance on goal and objective setting.
Unfortunately, I hear all too often, a jumbled interpretation of some basic terms that may sound familiar but for many people, pinning down exactly what they are (and also what they are not) proves to be quite tricky. So, here are a few words on Aims, Goals and Objectives, that hopefully will see you through this minefield and out of the other side, looking toward 2019 with enthusiasm.
Aims represent a desire or dream – to become an Ironman, or I’d like to go to Kona someday.
Goals – Defined accomplishments that may be indicative of your aim. They may be still ‘big’ and combine many parts but should still be specifically defined.
We might say – the goal is “to finish Ironman UK 2019, in a finish time of 13 hours” Notice that this goal is measurable, and time bound.
Objectives– These are smaller parts of the goal, (they may relate to individual elements of the goal, for example the swim, bike and run splits that support a 13-hour finish), or identifiable steps along the timeline toward the goal of IMUK2019, perhaps achieving 2:00/100m swim pace by December’ 18, riding 4 Century rides in the months of April – June ’19, or completing a ‘B’ race with associated metrics.
Actually, breaking down the Goal into objectives is a great first step for most athletes, as just taking a long run up to your ‘A’ race goal, without any objectives along the way, is a risky endeavour that may result in the whole exercise failing to meet the aim.
In coaching, like in business, we encourage the use of SMART objectives. SMART used in this sense is an acronym I suspect most readers will have come across and for the purposes of this blog, stands for:
Specific – the what, when, how, when, who? that frames the objective.
Measurable – how will you know when, or the extent to which you have achieved it?
Attainable – Do you have the time, resources, or perhaps the talent, to achieve it?
Relevant – Will the objective make a real contribution toward your end goal?
Timely – Plan the objectives such that they are achieved in time to make a contribution to the goal.
In a goal and objective setting exercise undertaken this week, with an athlete I coach, we had three full rounds, of writing, review, comment, reflection and re-writing in order to document objectives that were SMART. It’s easy to allow ambition and excitement to take you down a path of highly impactful objectives but reviewing these with your coach might help. Making realistic estimates of the effort they will each require, in the context of your already busy schedule and other resource demands, allow you to see that a differently framed objective may be more attainable and could make a greater impact on your goal, than a lofty ambition that was missed within the first few weeks and quickly forgotten.
If you’d like some help but don’t yet have a coach, feel free to comment or directly contact GI Tri Coach for some help and guidance, which might help you make the changes required to achieve your goal and realise the aim in 2019!