Goal Setting: 4 Powerful Principles that Deliver Results

Goal Setting: 4 Powerful Principles that Deliver Results

83% of the US Population does not set goals - and of the 17% who do, only 30% actually achieve them.

That works out to about 5 out of 100 people who actually achieve their goals. 

When we think of goal setting we have an overwhelming propensity to think long term, way-off-on-the-horizon, bucket list type of goals. 

But here’s the deal, those goals are nearly impossible to hit with consistency.  They’re too far away with too many variables we haven’t considered or been able to predict.

Nailing one of these types of goals is like sniping a tin can from 400 yards in 50 mph winds.  It probably won't happen - and that can be a demoralizing cycle to live in.  Basically, the further the target, the less likely you’ll hit it.  Like Al Pacino said, “life is a game of inches.” 

Signs Goal Setting: 4 Powerful Principles that Deliver Results

Deliberate Practice

When we’re talking about goal setting within the framework of deliberate practice - we can respect long term goal setting and recognize its utility for clarifying vision, but we should aim our focus more on short-term and micro-term goal setting.  These are more in our ability to control.  AboveFit Training invests a great deal of our energy into getting these goals right with our clients.

In our training system (AFTS), short-term goals are goals that are related to a specific cycle, month, or week of training.  Micro-term goals are goals that are related to a single day of training or - even better, a single training activity.

Outlined below are 4 principles we use when establishing short-term and micro-term goals with our training clients.

1. Focus on Behavior, Not Just the Outcome

As your coach, I cannot control your outcome - I can only influence it.


Therefore, think to yourself, “what behavior(s) would it take for me to accomplish my goal?”  Then together we will make it a priority to develop those behaviors with relentless consistency. 

If you can reinforce positive habits (behaviors) towards your goal, then the inches will add up.

Quote Goal Setting: 4 Powerful Principles that Deliver Results.jpg

2. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Most of our effective goal setting is done through repetitively communicating the goal prior to the task so it remains top of mind during the training activity. 

Repeat the target out loud before, during, and after training so that the words are fused together with the motor units being recruited. 

Every workout is a fresh opportunity to remind yourself of where your focus should be.  Take advantage of it.

3. Be S.M.A.R.T

As mentioned earlier, when people think about goals, they have a habit of projecting way into the future. 

Everyone's heard of setting SMART goals, right? (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).  However, maybe there's something about the “T” for time- bound, that makes people cast their goals way off into the distance. 

In “Practice Perfect”, master instructor Doug Lemov tells a story about the Spanish National Soccer Team vastly improving their ability to control the clock by establishing a time-bound, goal-based training activity.  The goal was to win the ball back within 6 seconds of turning it over to the other team.  This goal is a trainable behavior with a time-bound and measurable outcome.  Better yet, it’s relevant.  Prior to rolling out this training activity, ball control was a central flaw in the Spanish National Soccer Teams' game. 

Each time you’re starting an activity, think: what would mastery of this activity look like?  Make it SMART.

4. Challenge Appropriately

If you aren’t driven by the targets you’re setting, you’ll become stagnate.  In line with the main theme of "Deliberate Practice," set goals that are just outside of your comfort zone and make them count.  No gimmes.

Challenge Accepted Goal Setting: 4 Powerful Principles that Deliver Results

Goals should neither be so easily attainable that they’re unrewarding, nor so lofty and unreachable that they’re demoralizing. 

Set your goals just beyond your reach. 

The right balance creates a flow state of engagement that will keep you hooked on your practice. 

-- Joshua Bové


 Joshua Bové is a fitness expert and owner of AboveFit Training.  For questions on how to begin a strength training program, get in touch through our Contact page.