Imagine you want to climb a mountain. From the bottom do you look up at the summit and say to yourself “wow that’s really high” or do you plot waypoints and create a goal to get to the waypoint? Or to put it another way:
How you eat an elephant? You eat an elephant by taking one bite at a time.
Intermediate goals are the waypoints up the mountain or the joint of elephant you are about to eat. The benefits of intermediate goals are:
- closer psychological and physical proximity
- opportunities to review and improve your strategy
- recalibration if required to ensure motivation remains at the optimum level
Here is an example of one of my goals:
Swim 400 meters in under 7 minutes by 30th April 2017
I currently swim the distance in 7 minutes 24 seconds as at 31st January 2017. I have 13 weeks to achieve this but one week I am unable to swim. I swim twice a week so that is 24 sessions to make 24 seconds. I can now start to break it down:
Each week I need to be 2 seconds faster. Each swim session I need to be 1 second faster. Each timed length in the pool I need to be 1/16 second faster and this is faster than a blink of an eye and this no longer seems that big a leap.
I will assume a linear progression for ease’s sake so if I were to put an intermediate goal in for week 4 and week 8 it would look like this:
Week 4 Goal: Swim 400 meters in under 7 minutes 16 seconds by 26th February
Week 8 Goal: Swim 400 meters in under 7 minutes 8 seconds by 2nd April
The intermediate goals give me an opportunity to review and adapt my strategy on the way. It is also psychologically closer and a smaller quantifiable change. I do not recommend more granular goals in this context as progression is not usually a straight line and there will be times I am ahead of the target and others where I am behind the target.
Around these intermediate goals will be process goals. These are smaller goals that enable larger ones. In my example improving my left hand catch and pull phase will improve my time. Ensuring my push off on each length is consistent will improve my time. The are almost anything that can be classed as a marginal gain.
I encourage you to create intermediate goals as once you do you will find you can then chunk up and down through your goals and ambitions, focus your energy more effectively and achieve your goals more often.
I will let you know via this blog post how I performed on this one at the intermediate waypoints and after my first triathlon of 2017 in early May.