by: Christina Kohfield, MA Clinical Psychology

Goals: How to Use Specificity to Meet Your Desired Outcomes

Goals. We all know they are good for us. But have you ever made a goal you did not meet? Have you ever felt frustrated because you “have tried everything” and you did not seem to make progress? The good news is that by making simple adjustments, you can reach your goals. Some of you are already be familiar with S.M.A.R.T goals from Paul J. Meyer’s “Attitude is Everything.”  But for those of you that are unfamiliar, a S.M.A.R.T goal is an acronym for goals that are based on these criteria: Goals must be:





Time Bound

Let’s take the first bullet point: Specific. This is the foundation for an effective goal, whether you are just getting off the couch or are an elite athlete. If all you do today is clarify your goals into very tangible, specific tasks, you will start to see improvement in your athletic performance. But, let’s take a look at a goal that you hear all the time that is not “smart”.

“I want to lose weight.”

“I want to get fit.”

While noble, these two goals will result in minimal results. You may lose a few pounds, and you may even start going to the gym, but it is very difficult to meet your true potential when your goals are non-specific. Think of it this way: a non specific goal is like saying, “I want to travel.” A specific goal is like saying, “I want to travel to India for a month. I want to see the Ganges river and then walk the base of the Himalayas.” When you read the sentence describing the trip to India, was a picture conjured up in your mind? What happened when you read, “I want to travel”? Probably, not much. See the difference?

To create a “smart” goal, go from general to specific. Then break down the specific goal into small action steps that are manageable.

For example:

General: I want to get fit.

Specific: I want to finish a Spartan Sprint race.

More specific: I want to finish a Spartan Sprint in under 90 minutes.

Action Steps: Exercise 4-6 times a week: Follow WOD’s.  Not signed up for Spartan’s?  Go HERE to get signed up.  Go to Bikram yoga, do 30 burpees a day, run 4 x’s 400 meters. Etc.

You will tailor your action steps to meet your personal goals. Following this, you cannot help but make progress. But I’m not going to kid you. Spartan race is tough. Which leads to the bullet point of Relevant.  A relevant goal is something that lights a fire under your ass. It is the perfect combination of challenging, but attainable.  Oh grasshopper, Confucius said, “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”

Set a specific goal, and take action steps every day, and you will literally tell yourself, “I never knew I could do that.”

You got this.

Tina Kohfield holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a Specialization in Children’s Studies from Antioch University.  She worked as a psychotherapist from 2002-2011 in a variety of settings: 90 day residential treatment facility for adolescents, a domestic violence shelter, chemical dependency hospital and as a therapist working in the field in an intensive, family field based service. Studied yoga with D’ana Baptiste and taught a beginning yoga class every morning in the chemical dependency hospital for a year. The COO reported that incident reports were greatly reduced when patients participated in yoga.  Kohfield is also an accomplished Spartan!  Member of the Spartan 300 she has completed the 2011 Malibu Sprint, 2012 Super in Temecula (5th in her age group), 2012 Pac NW Sprint.  Scheduled: Midwest Super this October (I will be doing the HH plus the race the next day), Sacramento Beast in November, Malibu Sprint in December, both days,Temecula Super 2013, and the Utah Beast 2013.


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