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    Articles | goal setting

    Setting Effective Goals (the difference between a dream and a goal)

    By David (Jacko) Jackson

    Chase after your dreams because one day you will catch up with them

    We’ve moved into the new year quite rapidly and I know lots of you will have set yourself goals and have dreams of what you’d like to achieve this year – just like Tim and I have. We want you to dream and dream big but we also want to help those dreams become goals and become true!

    All people dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they dream their dreams with open eyes, and make them come true. – D.H. Lawrence

    Having a dream or aspiration for your training and/or life is important to inspire your day-to-day and see you through the tough times and frustrations that come with working towards redefining your impossible – after all, it’s not meant to be easy otherwise it wouldn’t be called ‘impossible’. We want you to dream big. But, a dream simply inspires and motivates. It’s only by turning your dreams into goals that will make your dreams a reality.

    A dream stays a dream and only a dream until you write it down as a goal. Research into goal setting in the ‘business world’ suggests that you are 5 to 10 times more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down. That’s a simple task that starts very easily to swing things in your favour. Why wouldn’t you?

    Not only writing them down, once written down we suggest putting them somewhere that you’ll see regularly. This allows you to regularly be reminded, reflect and review them. As well as becoming accountable to the fact it’s in black and white written down in front of you.

    Once you’ve done that we can look at making them ‘SMART’… and remember once written down you’re 5 to 10 times more likely to achieve them. That’s ‘smart’ in itself!

    So the SMART framework is when you set; specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based goals. Lots of you may have heard about the term SMART goals;

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Realistic
    • Time-based

    Which we will cover but first I want to re-emphasise the most important aspect to goal-setting…

    Write down your goals!

    Now let’s look at each section of the widely used in performance sport; SMART goal framework – which we’ve used time and time again with Paralympic champions we’ve supported over the years.


    A specific goal is far better than a general one. Rather than a general statement, we’re looking for one with substance, the more detailed the better.

    As a guide, we look to answer the ‘W’ questions – Why, What, Where, When and Which.

    • Why – specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal
    • What – what do I want to accomplish?
    • Where – identify a location
    • When – establish a time frame
    • Which – identify requirements and constraints


    By measurable, we mean the criteria to base achievement on. What would success look like? How will you know if you’ve met your goal? It’s also important for tracking purposes and measuring your progress. It’ll allow us to keep an eye on where you are compared to where you want to be and if needs be, to make changes to what you’re doing to help you stay on track to reaching your goals.


    Nothing dampens the spirits more than not doing what you’ve set out to do all because the bar was set too high in the first place. You can avoid the disappointment by setting achievable goals.

    We believe you can reach any goal when you set goals systematically and progressively, establishing a reasonable time frame that allows you to meet them. This way, goals that might seem out of reach at first, come closer. Not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and develop to match them.


    We encourage you to set high goals that will stretch you but, they must be realistic at the same time. The most important thing is to make sure your goals are set to establish progress towards the dream you started with.

    The phrase ‘the more you do, the more you get done’ comes to mind. In the same way, when you set high goals that represent a challenge, you’re more likely to achieve them than when you set low goals. That’s because the challenge motivates you. Whereas a lower goal, one that’s perhaps even too easy to meet, won’t motivate you to get it done.


    The best way to achieve your goals is by setting a time frame or deadline for when you need to get it done by. This will spur you on and give you the sense of urgency you need. Earlier, we mentioned your goals being progressive. It’s important to set short, medium and longer-term goals, all with the aim of helping you achieve your ultimate sporting dream. By breaking it down into stages, you’re more likely to be successful.

    Over to you – set your SMART goals!

    Now we’ve looked at the key principles of setting goals, it’s time to set yours. Here are a few tips for setting your goals:

    • Write them down
    • Write them in the positive not the negative
    • Write it down in as much detail as possible
    • Put it up somewhere you can see it daily

    Hope you’ve found this helpful, we’d love you to share this blog article with any friends you think it would help as well as get in touch and let us know what goals you have. You can get in touch via Instagram @schoolofcalisthenics or email me directly at


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