When it comes to training, as a PT, I can’t stress highly enough the importance of goal setting. Setting goals gives you, the trainee, something to strive for; something that you can achieve.  Goals are a highly effective motivational tool that can be of great use to ensure that you continue on your road to success.

Goal setting primarily uses the SMART principle (Specific; Measureable; Achievable; Realistic; Timed).  This will ensure that the goal setting process provides practical objectives; but on further investigation are your goals SOUND? Let me explain the SOUND principle:

Stimulating: Your goal must be able to inspire you both mentally and physically. Goals that inspire are far easier to work towards. If your goal is not achievable, then it is not going to stimulate you. If you set your bar too high and keep failing, then how are you going to stimulate yourself to keep trying? Likewise, from a physiological perspective, if your training does not stimulate your body to adapt and become better at what it is doing, again, how are you going to achieve your goal? Therefore, you must ensure physical and mental stimulation from your goal.

Open: Your goal must be honest and say exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Never be embarrassed with goal setting. Be open and honest with what you want to achieve. A classic example of a goal that is not open – ‘I want to lose weight’; ‘I want to get fit’. Whilst it could be argued that these are open insomuch as they are letting you know what you want to do, a more open goal would be ‘I want to lose 20lb’, or ‘I want to be able to complete a 5km run’. These give a more open and honest indication of what you want to accomplish.

Understood: You must understand the goal and what you have to complete in order to achieve it. This is in the form of ensuring that your goal is not too complicated, is written in a way that you are fully conversant on what you want to achieve, but more importantly, provides an understanding of how you are going to achieve it.

Narrow: Your goal must be narrow enough, so that it does not encompass too many elements in order to achieve it. If the goal is too vague, or too wide, then there is the potential that you may miss the overarching aim and not achieve the goal. A long term goal has many sub-goals that need to be completed first. This is where your narrow goal comes into play. Ensure that each goal is broken down to sub, or even sub-sub goals, so that you have a clear path that gives direction. This leads nicely onto the final element of the SOUND principle.

Directed: Your goal must give you clear direction. It must have a set path that you need to follow in order to achieve the goal. A clear path is easier to follow rather than one that is overgrown, or rarely used. The same goes for goals. A clear concise goal that gives clear direction as to how to achieve it will afford a greater chance of success.

So, when it comes to goal setting, ensure that you and your PT set goals that are both SMART and SOUND. Follow these principles and you will achieve the unthinkable 🙂

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