Goal Setting Deep Dive – Beyond S.M.A.R.T. Goals

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

Goal setting is arguable the most important step when trying to make any meaningful behavior change. To discept the above quote in more depth; you will fail to achieve your desired outcome if you do not properly set out the framework for how you’ll actually achieve your goals! However, there is a disconnect when individuals set out to create goals and unknowingly set themselves up for failure.

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Timely

S.M.A.R.T Goals.

The S.M.A.R.T. acronym is what first comes to, for many when setting themselves appropriate goals. Unfortunately, using this approach leaves much to be desired. The main issue with the SMART approach is the lack of actional items and steps that individuals NEED in order to actually achieve their goals.

To extend the usefulness of the S.M.A.R.T. approach you should also include O.P.P (not as catchy, but it’s not meant to be an acronym…). Outcome, Process, and Performance (O.P.P.) are three crucial goal types that are needed not only to help keep you on track but to better help manage your mental health as you will inevitably succeed and fail along the way.

 

Outcome, Process, and Performance

The spectrum of these goals is in relation to how much direct control you have over completing them. Ordering your goals accordingly is vital to long-term success as you know exactly where to put your focus and allow you to free your mind as you transverse through the growth process.

 

Process Goals > Performance Goals > Outcome goals

Most control <——————————-> Least control

 

  • Outcome
    • The least amount of direct control of.
      • A focus on social comparisons and competitive results, such as winning a race or outscoring opponents.
        • You can’t control what the other competitors do, only what you can do!
      • This can also be viewed as a directional goal: I want to live a long happy life!
        • Can’t control every aspect of life.
        • Injury and sickness can happen without the ability to prevent them.

 

  • Performance
    • More control but still not as much as individuals think they have over them.
      • A focus on specific behaviours that an athlete must engage in throughout a performance, such as snapping the wrist then stroking a squash ball or pulling the arms in tight during a jump in figure skating.
        • Believe it or not, we do not have complete control over our bodies. We can have moments of drifting thought that can be inevitable even for the most disciplined of meditators.

 

  • Process
    • The most control of the direct result
      • A focus on improving and attaining personal performance standards, such as learning an out-turn draw in curling or giving 100% effort at all times during a lacrosse match.
    • These can also be the daily actionable items you can do to get closer to your goals.
      • Going to sleep at a specific time.
      • Making meals for the week.
      • Reading, etc.

 

Figure 1- The figure shows how the process goals are what support and drive the Performance and the Outcome goals. The better the Process, the better the Performance, and inevitable Outcome.

 

Setting Up for Success

            When I goal set for myself, or work with clients, I first begin with identifying 1 Outcome Goal that is desired. We will use me as an example.

Outcome Goal

Qualify for the Winter Olympic Games in 2026!

Now let us check this goal via S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific – Yes
  • Measurable – Do I make it or not? Yes (not a direct measurement, but it is quantifiable)
  • Attainable – Yes
  • Realistic – As a current Team Canada athlete, Yes
  • Timely – Yes

Perfect, now let’s move on to the next step: the required performances for me to get there. I typically look for 2-3 performances but that will support the outcome.

 

Performance Goals

  1. Place in the Top 5 in the Candian Team Selection Race in the 2022-23 Season (Will allow me more opportunity to race at a high level).
  2. Place on Average in the Top 10 in the World Cup races in the 2025-26 Season. 

We can make Performances goals that lead to each other they have different levels to them. Moreover, Performance goals can be Outcome Goals depending on their context of them. Essentially, the Performance Goals support the Outcome Goals.

If we check the S.M.A.R.T criteria we see that these are good.

Process Goals

Finally, the most important level is the Process Goals. For this level, I will try and set 7-10 Processes Goals for each Performance Goal that I could do every day or week. I know it’s a lot, but when if you complete one or two tasks a day, over a year that is between 365-520 for each Performance Goal. Now even if you only get 0.1% better after each task you can improve 50% in a year in a Performance Goal! Now, this may not seem like a lot for a novice, but at higher levels this is wild!

For the sake of being concise, I will only list 10 for my first Performance Goal above.

  1. Get between 85-100% of my sleep need each night (I just have a sleep tracker for this).
  2. Complete a workout (either recovery, weights, sprinting, pushing, or sliding) every day.
  3. Complete my daily journaling every day.
  4. Complete my daily readings every day.
  5. Complete my 10 minutes of daily meditation.
  6. Check-in with my clients/complete my necessary work.
  7. Take my dog, Lilly, for her 1-hour walk (for her and for me!).
  8. Schedule my day/week to stay on top of my work.
  9. Meal prep and/or grocery shop.
  10. Clean my apartment

 Same as the prior goals, check for S.M.A.R.T.!

You’ll see that not everything is directly related to performance, but they assist in my daily life and overall mental health. Though not directly related to training, they are necessary to support my life and overall long-term progression.

 

Everything you need to help you achieve those goals here

Troy Wilson, Wilson Kinetic Health, BScKinH, MScKin, PKin, Team Canada Athlete and RockTape Ambassador

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