Most people have heard of SMART Goals. Today we’re going to focus on the S and the M. Setting Specific and Measurable goals. They are intertwined and yet slightly separate too.
Get a cuppa and sit down for this post! Somehow it’s ended up quite lengthy. Many of us do no spend enough time on these areas so I am going to share how to explore them in more depth so you can set amazing goals!
Goals often start with a dream; an idea of what we want. A general direction. Things like “I want to learn Italian”, “I want to get fit”, “I want to travel to Europe”, “I want to get better at tennis”, “I want to lose weight”. This part is absolutely necessary, but totally inadequate to achieving much at all! How will you know when you’re “fit”? How will you tell if you’re “better” at tennis. This is where the S & the M shine through and support us, if given due consideration.
To be SPECIFIC, consider the WHAT, WHEN , WHERE and HOW
Any time we use a comparative such as fitter, better, stronger, faster, etc it tells you the direction you want to go, but not where you’re going to end up, or for that matter from where you are starting. This is too vague. Too unclear. Very unspecific.
Let’s look at tennis. How do you want to get ‘better’? Identify weakness areas… Do you want to hit more first serves in? Do you want to volley more? Do you want to reduce your unforced forehand errors? See how much more clear and specific these are? So you decide on unforced forehand errors…
One strategy I’ve learned is that it’s much better to have a goal that states what you want, rather than don’t want. It expresses where you are heading TOWARDS and gets your mind focused on this, not what you’re moving AWAY FROM. So if you have fewer unforced errors, what will that mean? You’re hitting ‘more forehand shots in’. There’s your WHAT.
So exactly HOW will you achieve this? What will you do exactly to hit more forehands into the court? Will you take lessons focusing on forehand technique? Will you specifically practice forehand shots in some sessions or games you play? Will you record a match and ask a mentor or coach for feedback on your forehand technique? Or a combination? Often it’s great to brainstorm everything you COULD do and then decide what’s practical and interesting for you.
Of course, you need a WHEN… sometimes a frequency… once a week, a specific number of lessons etc. and you may need a WHERE for your lessons and practice sessions. And this one might take a WHO as well – as you may need some assistance in the M as well.
Once you’ve clarified your SPECIFIC goal, it’s time to get MEASURABLE. Being measurable is all about knowing when you’ve reached your goal, and being able to track your progress. Objectively. I like to think of this as ‘observable’. If someone else had your written goal in front of them, they would be able to tick if you had or hadn’t achieved it.
So the question is, how will you tell if you’ve hit ‘more’ forehand shots into court? How can this be made ‘measurable’? One way is to use a percentage. To improve though, you need to know your starting point, or baseline (a happy accident of a tennis pun) ie how many forehand shots do you hit in at the moment? Then you can make a decision of what percentage you will aim for.
Sound tricky and complicated? The good news is you don’t necessarily need to count every single forehand you hit. You can use a ‘sample’ eg counting every forehand of the first 2 games of the 2nd set. The advantage is you’ve warmed up as it’s the 2nd set, plus you include a serving and a receiving game. However, are you going to do this EVERY game you play? Or the first match of every week for in September and November. (Please note some of this also links with the T or SMART goals, or Timeframe)
Specific and Measurable
Your goal has shifted from the idea of
“I want to get better at tennis” to
“I want to reduce my unforced forehand errors” to the much-more specific
“I will take four lessons (one per month) on forehand technique, practice forehand technique with a partner once a week and seek feedback from my coach on a recorded match in order to increase my forehand accuracy from 55% to 65%. In my first social match of September, October, November and December 2016, I will ask [friend] to count my % forehand shots in, during the first 2 games of the second set.