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LOCKDOWN, GOAL SETTING AND MENTAL WELL-BEING

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

We are now more than 2 weeks deep into lockdown 2.0. Whether you’re dusting off the £1000+ kit you bought for the first lockdown; relishing in the weights you managed to negotiate with your trusted gym owner (*Cough* Unified Strength Methods *Cough*); or like me you have re-ignited your part time career of being a CrossFit, bar star and long distance athlete, this information will be relevant to you!

We are goal-driven creatures. Most of what we do is determined by the goals that we have. But you can imagine the discomfort and distress we experience when we are reaching for an unrealistic goal. Sometimes goals can be realistic in given situations, such as having access to a gym with an array of weights, but other situations don’t accommodate our goals. This means that there is a need to consider what goals we have and if they align with our current life circumstances.

GOAL SETTING

We know that goals are never just linear. If that were true then we could set one goal and easily achieve it. Unsurprisingly, a key principle of setting effective goals is re-evaluating our goals. We need to see where we are now in relation to our goals and if our goals need to be adjusted to accommodate where we are in our athletic journey in pursuit of our overall goals.

So what is goal readjustment?

  1. identifying alternative approaches to achieve the same goal - For example, originally having the goal of hitting a deadlift PB of 150kg PB by periodically increasing the weights of 5x5 training. An adjustment of this would be, still having the goal of the 150kg PB, but doing so by increasing the reps of paused deadlifts.

  2. Identifying different goals relating to the overall goal - For example, having the overall goal of getting a deadlift PB. An adjustment would be, going from the goal of a 1-rep man PB to mastering the deadlift technique.

  3. Developing a completely new goal - For example, this would be adjusting your goal from getting a 1-rep max deadlift to a 5-rep max deadlift. In my case this would be moving from having the goal to increasing my squat weight to reducing my 5-kilometre running time.

You can think of it as ‘going back to the drawing board’. This is something we need to consider when our goals are no longer attainable.

Readjusting our goals can have a positive influence on our well-being! A 2016 study found athletes who readjusted their goals, in response to their goals being unattainable, were predicted to have greater mental well-being. Additionally, athletes who did readjusted were more likely to view a competition as a challenge to overcome, rather than a threat. The benefit of readjusting our goals is also seen in research using students (some additional knowledge for you students reading).


It’s important to know that doing something as simple as readjusting our goals can have an impact on our well-being and the emotions we experience. Lockdown isn’t easy on all of us, and it can really take its toll on us mentally. So we need to do all we can to protect and sustain our mental health and well-being.


As a side note, you also need to ensure that the new, readjusted goals you’ve created follow the principles of effective goal setting. They still need to be specific, measurable, achievable and time-specific. Don’t just think that readjusting your goal means you can create a broad goal that has no time pressure.


PSYCH-CHEK’S MENTAL TIPS:

  1. Recognise when your goal is unattainable.

  2. Seek the advice of a coach to identify what are possible approaches you can take to help you achieve your overall goal.

  3. Accept that the situation has changed and readjusting your goals still allows you to progress. By readjusting your goals, you’re taking power away from the situation you’ve been placed in and empowering yourself.

To get access to more psychological resources, such as how to set effective goals, visit www.psych-chek.co.uk/infographics

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