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    Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith

Coach Coop: Reach Those Goals

By Michael O. Cooper

Most of us set goals in our lives, but we rarely know whether those goals are serving us, or whether these goals have been imposed on us (by our parents, partners, friends, etc.). Or maybe you're one of those folks who don't have any goals at all.

Whether you want to take charge of your career path, compete in a triathlon or other athletic endeavor, get organized, or make any number of other changes in your life, goals are a simple and powerful tactic to use. But most of us don't set goals intelligently— and unfortunately, some even set goals that are harmful. So let's explore goals and how to make them serve you.

First, a goal is an end point, an accomplishment or achievement that has very specific components: 1.) End State, 2.) Deadline, 3.) Standards, and 4.) Expectations.

Your end state should be a very clear, precise picture or description of what you want to do or become. "Get in shape" is not an actual goal but a sloppy one, because it doesn't have all four of the components listed above. "Lose 10 pounds" is a little better, but is still missing important elements.

Here's a good example of a goal: I would like to complete my first triathlon by December 31, 2007 by training with an experienced triathlete and following established nutritional guidelines. I expect to cross the finish line healthy, with a smile and under a specified time.

That's a good, solid goal, but each goal usually requires an additional set of interim goals in order to improve the likelihood of reaching your ultimate goal. To continue with this example, interim goals might be:

  1. Hire an experienced triathlete trainer by January 1, 2006.
  2. Complete 1,000 meters swimming in 40 minutes by March 1, 2006.
  3. Complete 40,000 meters biking in 50 minutes by May 1, 2006.
  4. Improve my running to 10,000 meters in 45 minutes by June 1, 2006.
  5. Complete half-triathlon in 145-minutes time by October 1, 2006.
  6. Complete second half-triathlon in 130 minutes time by November 1, 2006.
(Of course tailor these times and distances to your own fitness level.)

By setting clear interim goals, you now have a plan to reach your end goal with confidence and clarity. Anything else is usually unclear and leads to frustration or abandonment of your end goals. So be sure to evaluate the goal you set for yourself to ensure you have a realistic plan for achieving them.

If you have any questions about creating specific goals for yourself, send me an e-mail to me at I'd be happy to help!