Have you ever set a goal for yourself with the best intentions in mind only to eventually fail? Do you set goals and then become frustrated when you aren’t making progress, making it difficult to keep working on it? Then this post is for you! Setting and having goals is very important to success. Goals can give us something to shoot for and help provide direction. However, when working toward a goal its important to remember it’s a process!
To help understand this process better and learn some tactics that I have found to be very helpful in goal setting I am going to describe two approaches to goal setting. On their own, they are each effective but are also complimentary and can be used together to really help put together a strong plan when working toward a goal. These two approaches are the SMART method to goal setting and taking the WOOPIE approach to a goal. First let’s look at the more well known of the two, the SMART method.
SMART stands for:
- Time Bound
Specific – The goal is very specific, for example: being able to do a strict handstand push-up.
Measurable – The specific goal is easily measured. In the case of a strict handstand push-up, a successful rep is starting in a locked out inverted position and lowering your body touching your head to the floor before pressing back up and returning to a locked out inverted position.
Attainable – The goal is realistically attainable based on where you are. You have been working on your handstand push-up and can kip 10 plus reps out and have no issue holding a handstand for extended period of time making the goal of a strict rep very achievable.
Relevant – The goal is relevant to you and other goals you might have for yourself. Completing a strict handstand pushup will help you develop your core strength, which will help improve other movements making it a relevant goal.
Time Bound – You have a set time when you want to accomplish this goal by. “I want to complete a strict handstand pushup before the start of the open.” This gives you accountability and can assist you in putting together a plan of attack.
Leveraging the SMART method is a great way to put you on track toward accomplishing a goal and is very effective. However, for some you may want to dig deeper in your approach to setting a goal and this is where the WOOPIE approach can be helpful. Gabriele Oettingen, a professor of Psychology at NYU developed the first part of this approach, the WOOP and explains it in great detail in her book, Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation. Ben Bergeron in a recent Chasing Excellence podcast discussing this approach, added the “I” and the “E” to create WOOPIE.
WOOPIE stands for the following:
- Wishing & Hoping
Wishing & hoping – This is where you listen to yourself and you outline what you want to accomplish. “I want to complete a strict handstand pushup.”
Outcomes – Once you set the goal this is where you start to think and reflect on the work needed to achieve the goal and you start to see yourself accomplishing this goal. Oettingen warns though, “The ability to sustain motivation isn’t a trivial matter. The course of an individual’s life is determined by the action she takes in the world. When a person indulges in positive fantasies, she hamstrings herself from becoming all she is capable of being.” (Oettingen, 2014 p.17). Don’t let daydreaming about doing that strict handstand push-up handcuff you from taking the necessary action.
What is more effective, is thinking about how you will feel after you have accomplished the goal and then asking yourself, “Does that feeling align with what I want and the goal I have?” If so, then trod on!
Obstacles – No goal comes without obstacles. You need to take the time to outline possible obstacles to achieving your goal so that you can have a plan for when they arise and aren’t thrown off guard. While not possible to plan for all possible obstacles if you can be prepared for most it makes staying on track much easier. Maybe you’re asked to stay late at work meaning you won’t have time to go to the gym early to work on your strict handstand pushup before class. Be prepared for this and have a plan so that the obstacle does not throw you off track.
Plan – Once you know what your goal is and how it will make you feel this is where you start a plan for yourself on how you will accomplish this goal. Leveraging the SMART method here is very useful. You are dead set on getting that strict handstand pushup so you lay out how many minutes each day you will dedicate to working on it and which drills you will do that will help you with the various pieces needed to accomplish your goal.
Identify – Knowing your goal, how it will make you feel when accomplished and what possible obstacles there could be makes setting out your plan an easier task but it shouldn’t stop there. You should be able to identify with your goal. Meaning, when you look yourself in the mirror and think about those obstacles like having to stay late for work you can answer with, “I’m the type of person if I have to stay late for work I will do my strict handstand pushup drills at home that night.” Your identity becomes tied to your goal helping make you more accountable to do what needs to be done (Bergeron, 2017).
Execute – Self-explanatory here. You have everything laid out, you identify with your goal now its time to execute, execute, execute. Got out and get done what needs to get done so that you master the strict handstand pushup and can check that off the list and move on to your next goal (Bergeron, 2017).
These two approaches to goal setting are great tools to help you realize what you are setting out for yourself. However, it is important to note that whether you employ one or both of these approaches each one is a process! Embrace the process knowing that there will be challenges and that despite those challenges you are the type of person who will be prepared and ready. As Napoleon Hill said “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” So go out, set goals, be prepared for obstacles, make a plan, and identify with that goal and see it through.
Bergeron, B. (Producer). (2017, September 27). Chasing excellence (Episode 21).
W.H.O.O.P.I.E. Podcast retrieved from
Oettingen, G. (2014) Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of
Motivation. New York: Current