Many individuals use the early part of the year to set goals for the year ahead. The goal setting process can be conducted in a number of different ways. A recent study looked to assess the effect of different types of goal setting on desired outcomes. ⅔ of the goals were related to health, fitness, weight loss or nutrition. 

1,066 Swedish participants were separate into groups based on the degree of support provided:

  1. No support
  2. Some support, who were given information about the importance of social support, and provided with monthly follow-ups.
  3. Extended support, who were, in addition, provided with information regarding the formulation of SMART goals, and encouraged to set goals that were approach oriented, rather than avoidance-oriented.

All participants completed a survey relating to their resolutions and their level of belief in their ability to achieve them. They were followed up in June and December to evaluate their success. 

  • Approach-oriented goals were associated with greater success in goal achievement
  • Goal achievement was then related to superior quality of life and self-efficacy scores. 
  • Interestingly, the “some support” group reported greater success than the other two groups, suggesting that the SMART framework may not be the best system for setting health-related goals.

Oscarsson M, Carlbring P, Andersson G, Rozental A. A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. PLoS One. 2020 Dec 9;15(12):e0234097


About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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