Goal Setting for athletes


PsychElite Performance
Thomas Regan

As I sit here, watching the PGA tour at St. Andrews, it has reminded of a young golfer, called Justin Thomas, 24, showing us all of his 2016-2017 goals after winning the FedEx Cup. He set his goals at the beginning of the year (February 27th 2017) and showed us the goals he completed and did not complete (25th September 2017). The young up and coming golfer clinched the PGA championship, PGA player of the year, the leading money winner on the tour and he clinched 12 of his 15 goals. For a 24-year-old to have goals of winning a major championship in a year and achieving it is truly amazing. But I guess that's how confident Justin is in his abilities. 

I bet he will be sitting down with his coach and thinking about new goals for his 2017-2018 season to become an even better golfer. Possibly one making the Ryder Cup team and winning another major but what do I know I lose 10 golf balls a round!

This got me thinking, how many average people use goal setting and set out to achieve these goals? How many people give themselves a sense of direction and purpose to achieve their dreams? I know you are reading this thinking: 'yeah, I set goals at the beginning of the year!'  but how many people stick to them and go through with them? Look back and see if you have achieved your new year’s resolution goals. If you have, why haven't you set new ones? Goals are very important to give you a sense of direction, purpose, motivation and confidence. 

Justin Thomas showing his 2016-2017 goals of the PGA tour season

Keep it simple
Goal Setting is very simple once you get used to doing them. Start small, such as drinking 1L of water a day and then increasing it weekly. By the end of the month you will be drinking 2L of water a day and it will become part of routine like waking up and brushing your teeth (I hope you do that!). 

Your goals have to be motivating and you will be able to keep doing for more than a week. Before you right down your goals haphazardly, there needs to be reasoning behind the goals. For example, ask yourself, why you are doing them? How it will benefit once you do it? Can I keep doing it? 

At the minute, I am trying to drink more water and my goal is to drink 1 and a half litres a day. If I drink more than that then great but drinking less is not an option. In a few weeks, I will increase that to 2L daily. I do this because water has massive benefits that include increasing mental cognition, better skin and flushes out toxins. I know drinking water will aid my health and i can keep doing it because i know it will be more beneficial in the long term.

 My advice for you guys is to get a notebook and write goals down and do your best to cross them off. There is also an app I use called 'GoalTracker' (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=info.intrasoft.habitgoaltracker&hl=en_GB ) to keep you motivated. The more you achieve, the hungrier you will be to achieve more difficult goals. 

For example, use the Kaizen way to self improvement. Be 1% better everyday, set a goal a day that will make you become a better person than what you were when you woke up. By the end of the year, you will be 325% better than you were at the start. Move the chains, take something to the next step and every yard gained will increase your chances of getting the touchdown.

'Moving the chains' is an expression used to move forward to get first downs (your goals)

SMARTER than you

It has been found that only 8% of people stick to their New Year goals through to the long term (University of Scranton study, 2014). So how do we stick to them and achieve our long term goals? We have all been there, having a goal but not taking the relevant steps to achieve it to keep yourself motivated. For example, if a person wants to lose a stone for their wedding in a year’s time, its a good goal to have but what are the steps they are taking? How are they going to lose the weight? Do they have a relevant plan? If they achieve it early, do they stop trying to lose weight or keep going? By using the SMARTER technique, it could benefit your insight into creating goals for yourself.

The SMARTER way will be explained in 7 easy steps with an example I used to get rid of my student over draft in blue


Being specific is key to success. Without having a specific goal, you cannot have motivation to achieve it. It will be like finding a needle in the hey stack. You cannot say you want to lose weight, make money, get rid of debt, set up a business without having a plan. By making a specific goal will give you a sense of purpose and motivation to reach a certain target. 

At the beginning of the year, I was living with my parent, had £170 a month to pay for my master’s loan and had 10 months to pay off my overdraft. Not having a clear goal of where my money was going. I sat down and worked everything out and my specific goals included getting rid of my overdraft within 10 months so I would not have to pay interest on it.

Measuring your goals will keep you committed and motivated by tracking your progress. Remember the saying 'Moving the Chains' to keep moving forward and set a clear path. This will give you tunnel vision and, hopefully, you will be determined to achieve. Follow your yellow brick road to success.

I have to pay £170 a month towards my master loan and give my parent £100 a month for rent. So to have some money for myself, I divided my student overdraft to 10 which came to £80 a month (great maths!). Thus meaning I had to save £350 a month by only working part time at a pub. Sacrifices had to be made. 


If your goal is not achievable there is no point in doing it. For example, you can’t say "I want to have a top of the range Range Rover within a year" when you only have a minimum wage job. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but it aint gonna happen.  However, if you told me within 5 or 10 years, this could be achievable if you work hard. 

£350 a month is a lot of money and I had to set wages aside in order to meet this money. I believe this was very achievable and I did it with patience. Even though I was still in my overdraft, I stayed calm and knew if I stuck to my goals, it would be at 0 in no time. 


Realistic goals are important in order for you to stay motivated. You have to be able and willing to achieve your goal. Remember to not make them too easy but make them challenging enough so that you know you will do it.

I knew I wouldn't be able to get rid of my overdraft in 3 months because I never had the finances to do so. I had to set my wages accordingly and not to be naive with the money I had to save to get rid of my debts. Giving £80 a month was a realistic target and I did this until I had no overdraft left. 


A goal should have a time frame in which you want to achieve it. This could be a short term goal (<1) or a longer term goal (>1). Without a time, frame, there is no direction and it can "easily wait till tomorrow." Sound familiar? The famous Nike advert, 'Yesterday you said tomorrow' could not be more true for certain people. By putting things off, it will not help your motivation or even your confidence. Don't quit before you even start.

Setting a time frame of 10 months was easy for me as I knew in that timeframe I would have gotten rid of my overdraft. I always had the money to put into my overdraft because I would not buy clothes or go out with my mates if I knew I had to pay it off. Another way I thought about my overdraft was it was £20 of my wages a week. Once I got paid I knew I had to keep £20 every week in order to achieve £80 a month. 


 Evaluating goals is key to success. At university, my supervisor was a very big advocate of reflections. If you believe you are not seeing results, reflect upon why this is the case and re-evaluate how you are going to achieve goals. If you do see progress, evaluate why your progress is going well and keep doing it. Is there anything you can do better? There is always room for little improvements in anything we do. I would suggest doing a reflection every month but that is just me.

There were many times that i had to re-evaluate by goals by making some changes to my finances. For example, i spent money going to the gym by train because it was a cheap gym membership and i was helping out my uncle in the gym. But i was spending too much money to get there on the train and the money i could have saved could have went to my overdraft.


Stay focused, determined and committed if your goal is not going as expected. Please please please do not give up and don’t 'throw your goal in the bin.' Stick with the plan, if the plan isnt working then just make slight changes in order for you to achieve your goal. People can get impatient when they try change their lives. Also, get comfortable being uncomfortable. Nothing comes easy. 

A famous advert by Nike.com

You make the change

Remember, be SMARTER with your approach to goals. I hope this inspires you and gives you some sort of motivation, direction and self purpose to achieve whatever you want to achieve. You can do it when you put your mind to it. Start by thinking of 3 things that can help you change for the better, now make a SMARTER plan. 

Please comment below and i want you to come back in 3 months to see how you are getting on. 

See you next week, guys!



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