Using SMART To Achieve Personal Goals

coaching Jan 07, 2024

(Picture: After being knocked out of the 2022 European Transplant Games in Oxford to Italy's Enrico Pitzalis. I am angrier here than I look.)

A week into 2024, I've still not fully settled on my goals for the year. Today, I'm going to develop a goal using the  SMART model. 

Away from business, my goals are usually focused on my health and fitness. Unfortunately, I've brought a hip injury obtained in November into the new year - one final nail into my five-a-side career. The football boots have now officially been hung up for good. (Donated to these guys, to be more literal).

Tennis is now my main way of keeping fit. It's actually a lot more than that from a mental health perspective, but I'll explore that another time. As a kidney transplant patient (2021), I'll be heading to Lisbon this Summer to compete in the European Transplant and Dialysis Games, representing Team GB.

It's a tough tournament. Getting (and keeping) fit enough, while trying to get my game to a level where I can hopefully pick up a medal is definitely an ambitious goal. But, is it SMART? Let's find out.

The first two letters of SMART stand for Specific and Measurable. And I feel positive about these two elements. I'm going for a medal. Either I get one or I don't. I could get more specific by aiming for gold, but that's not my goal. Any medal will do. All good. 


The next letter is A, for Achievable. When I consider that word, I think about circumstances which may be outwith my control (such as the calibre of opponent I'll be facing) but also my preparation and effort towards my desired outcome. I know that without sufficient training, practice, and effort, I don't stand a chance. I think about how much I really want to achieve the goal. Am I willing to make this goal achievable by taking responsibility for the outcome? 

Let's start with my opponents. Can I beat them? Well, actually I have no idea because I do not know who they will be. Some transplant athletes may just have taken up tennis recently, while some may be lifelong players. In 2012, the tournament was won by a tennis coach who'd just received a heart transplant! In 2022 (see above) I was eliminated by a player I could have beaten on another day. 

I need to belive I can beat other players. Otherwise, what's the point? I need to believe that the players I meet will, at least, not be former tennis coaches, will be around the same or slightly higher level than me. I need to focus on what I can control en route to my destination goal. And that's going to require some journey goals

My journey goals will be based on preparation and practice. I know that I can only compete with the other athletes if I take my training as seriously as they do. And the strongest transplant athletes take their training very seriously.

Here then, are my journey goals for the next six months. The Games are at the end of July. 

  • Twice weekly tennis coaching
  • Three gym sessions a week
  • Get as much competitive play as possible by playing in the Glasgow Leagues.


Continuing through the model, is my goal Realistic? Yes. I can get to Lisbon. I can play competitive tennis at a reasonable level. I've had a transplant. All of these points describe the reality of my situation in relation to the goal. Every learner driver can pass a driving test if they meet the health, legal, and practical requirements.


I have Time to do this, and the competition date is set, which takes care of the final letter in SMART.


My work then, lies with the A. These journey goals around Achievability could, and will, be broken down more. For example:

When specifically will I go th the gym? Wed, Fri, Sun mornings before work.

How will I measure my fitness? By working with a PT once a week, tracking Garmin stats, etc.

Is it realistic for me to start training next week? No, because I'm still recovering from my injury. 

And so on. 

Hopefully, you've been able to get a sense of how the SMART model can be used to work towards your personal goals, and how you can also use it with your learner drivers and PDIs. Growth in any area relies on goals, and a method of developing a plan to achieve them. SMART is just one model. There are many more.

If you'd like to develop your coaching skills, please get in touch. Equally, if there are any other ADI tennis players out there who fancy a set or two, let's get something arranged.

Thanks for reading, and aim high in 2024. 🎾



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