Is Goal Setting REALLY Important?

GOAL SETTING. I don’t know about you but, the mere mention of the New Year and setting of goals makes me sweat! It’s that old-school “resolution” thing…….there you are guzzling Champagne and you go and blurt out actual RESOLUTIONS in front of a few people. And, of course, they remember each thing you said…..Fast forward to March and most have gone by the wayside. Does this ever happen to you? It’s not just me, right? So, I thought it might be fun to do a little research on the issue of GOAL SETTING. Why do it? How does it help? Is it just for those super cool biz wizards we see in the Wall Street Journal? Does it work?

Goal setting is a simple mental tool you can use to maintain a high level of  motivation in your fitness program (or your life, business or retirement planning). For some very basic reason, people respond to goals in a very personal way. The experience of setting a goal, working toward a goal, and achieving a goal has a powerful emotional resonance that causes us to continue to strive higher for the goals we set for ourselves.

Goals offer two essential things to fuel your motivation. First, goals provide the destination of where you want to go in your business or life or fitness program. This endpoint is important because if you don’t know where you’re going, you might just stay where you are. Second, having a place you really want to go doesn’t have a lot of value if you don’t know how to get there. Goals provide the roadmap to your destination.


Exerpted from Physchology Today

The acronym S.M.A.R.T.E.R. represents the five criteria that you can use to get the most out of your goal setting:

Specific. Be specific about what you want to accomplish. For example, if you are a fitness competitor, you wouldn’t want a general goal such as “I want to improve my shape” Instead, you want to identify which aspects of your training you want to improve. A more appropriate goal might be: “I want to improve my lean muscle mass by 10%.” The more specific you can be, the more you can focus on what you need to do in your training to improve that area.

Measurable. “I will do my best” goals aren’t very effective because they don’t offer an adequate benchmark to strive for. Instead, you want to set goals that are measurable and objective. For example, if you are a basketball player wanting to improve her free-throw shooting, a measurable goal might be: “My goal is to shoot 50 free throws three times a week for the next four weeks to raise my free-throw percentage from 71 percent to 80 percent.”

Accepted. Ownership of your sport is essential for your athletic success. Ownership is no less important in the goals you set. Goals that are set by friends or significant others (or coaches) will not inspire or motivate you fully because they come from outside of you and you won’t feel real buy-in because they aren’t yours. When you set goals that you believe deeply in, they will be woven into the very fabric of your motivation and you almost have no choice about whether you strive them.

Realistic. If you set goals that are too low, they will have little motivational value because you know you’ll achieve the goal without much effort. You don’t want to set goals that are too high because you’ll know that you can’t achieve them, so you’ll have little incentive to put out any effort. You want to set goals that are both realistic and challenging. Realistic meaning that you can actually achieve them and challenging because your only chance of achieving them is by working really hard.

Time limited. The best goals are ones in which there is a time limit for their achievement. You will feel highly motivated to put in the time and energy necessary to reach them when you have set a deadline to achieve them. For example, if you’re a cyclist and want to improve your power output, a goal might be: “I’m going to work toward increasing my wattage by five percent by doing 45 minutes of interval training three times a week for the next six weeks.”

I am sure you’ve all heard about the well-known Harvard MBA Study on Goal Setting done in 1979 (and still used). They claim that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals, with a huge 92% that ended in failure.

Here are some stats about goal setting:

45% of Americans usually make goals.

17% of American infrequently make goals.

38% of American never make goals.

Given these figures, the numbers below show how far they actually got before they threw in the towel:

75% of people made it through the FIRST week.

71% made it past TWO weeks.

64% made it past ONE month.

46% made it past SIX months.

If this study teaches us anything, it’s that achieving our goals is difficult. But it’s NOT impossible. As long as we stay FOCUSED ON OUR GOALS and do the work, we’ll get there over time. It’s just NOT going to happen OVERNIGHT (darn…..).

It’s only a matter of time my friends. If you’d like to read a bit more about this skill set here are a couple of great books!



What types of “plans” have you made for this year? Do you have a long-term action plan?

You can have whatever you want if you stay the course!

xoxo, Rosanna
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