Steps to Successful Goal Setting
What is Goal Setting? What sets apart athletes who achieve their dream goal from those who don’t? Most of us have set goals for ourselves at some point. Some of us even went so far as to write them down. But what happened to those goals we never achieved? As some point we lose track of our progress or get discouraged because we’re halfway through the season and haven’t reached that goal yet.
Goal setting is more than just having a dream goal, it’s a process for learning how to attain that goal. Here are some basic steps on how to get started with goal setting:
- Create a Self-Determined Goal: Something that you are motivated and committed to achieving. It’s easy for an athlete feel pressured to choose something they think will meet the approval of coaches, parents, and peers, but remember, the most important person in this goal setting process is the athlete. The athlete is the one investing the work to achieve this goal. Your goal must be self-determined, not something you think you should be doing, or determined by your coaches or parents, it’s something that you are passionate about and motivated to achieve for yourself.
- Create Stepping Stones. Many athletes will set a long-term goal, but have no idea how to get from where they are now, to where they need to be to achieve their goal. Once you’ve created your long-term goal, work backwards to create intermediate steps to achieve along the way. Once these intermediate steps are created, you then continue to break down your goal into smaller steps. By breaking your long term goal down into intermediate and short-term goals, you then have a simple way to track your progress, and will help you stay motivated towards your long-term goal.
- Write Down Your Goals. You may have a dream goal in your head, but until you write down your goal and create a road-map for achieving that goal, it will only remain a dream. Clearly write you goals, post them in a location where you will see them everyday, and share your goals with people who support you, such as your coach, your parents, or a teammate.
- Make S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-based) Goals. When creating your long-term goal make sure it meets S.M.A.R.T. criteria. The more specific you make your goal, the easy it will be to determine what you need to do to achieve it. You want your goal to be measurable so you can easily track your progress and keep up your motivation. Be action-oriented by creating a goal that allows you to control what steps you take to reach it. You want your goal to be challenging but realistic. And lastly, set a deadline for when you are going to reach you goal. If there’s no deadline, then when what’s going to motivate you to get started?
- Be Flexible. Realize the controllable and uncontrollable factors in achieving your goals. While your goal may be to make a national points list, you cannot always control tournament cancellations, who your competitors are, or potential injuries that could limit your progress. Additionally, you may progress more quickly than anticipated, and need to adjust your long-term goal to something more challenging. Frequently review your progress to see if you are on track with achieving your long-term goal.
With proper goal setting skills, you can learn to set challenging goals, figure out the steps needed to achieve them, and stay motivated through the journey. So what are you waiting for? Go reach your goals!