Sports Psychology: How to Set Goals and Achieve Them

What do you need to do to achieve your goal? Are your goals SMART enough? What to do if you don’t achieve your goals.

Lewis Carroll reportedly said “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” 

That is what goal setting is about. Whether you set fitness goals, personal life goals, financial goals, study goals, professional goals. They are all areas that that can benefit from going through the goal setting process. What do you want to achieve and why?

Goals should be SMART:

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

Having a goal of running a marathon is good, but having a goal of running a marathon in under 3 hours is more specific. Adding in that extra detail helps to consolidate that goal and increase the chance of it being accomplished compared to a more general goal (not that goal achievement will be put down to chance when you are working with Qwik Kiwi).

Being measurable allows you to keep track of progress and gives you incentive. The goal of running a marathon is a yes or no answer when you review and ask yourself if you achieved it. Having that time goal in there is still a yes or no answer come review time, but doing 10km Time Trials in the build up allows a more accurate assessment of how you are going and to assess your ability to hold the goal pace.

Setting a goal that is unachievable is just plain stupid – “I will run a full marathon in under 1:30 hours!” considering the world record is a touch off 2 hours! A realistic goal needs to be set, but it shouldn’t be so easy that no effort is required to achieve it. Goals that require work to accomplish are very rewarding when you finally do achieve them.

The relevance should also be considered, as it can help prioritise your goals amongst other factors to determine if this is your sole over-riding factor to achieve or whether some family time or something else needs to balanced in with the attainment of this goal.

Adding a time for achievement will help create a sense of urgency for the achievement. “Run a marathon in under three hours within the next 12 months”, sees you looking for an event to achieve the goal and create the achievement, rather than having the goal drag on for many years with an “I’ll get around to it next year” mentality.

Goal setting is all about creating a pathway to success. Knowing where you are and where you want to get to.  In consultation with your coach you can then create the plan that will get you there. If you are in Auckland and are travelling to Wellington there are a number of ways of getting there.  Through Taupo, New Plymouth or even Gisborne. Other options including driving, flying, by bus or even riding your bike or hiking the Te Araroa Trail.

You won’t always achieve the goal you set out to achieve. Is failing to achieve it such a bad thing, especially if you get close? Working hard, with focus is a pretty damn rewarding thing to do. If you don’t achieve it, as part of the review process think about why you didn’t achieve it. Reset or re-evaluate the goal. Do you still want to achieve it? Can you adjust the time frame you set yourself for the achievement?

Now is the time of year to be planning your 2016/17 summer season goals and talking with your coach about what these goals are.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.