Goal-setting may be an artform in that it is a personal reflection of one’s feelings, thoughts, needs & desires for success, whatever that may be.
It requires a thoughtful plan for execution and much perseverance. Yet, it wasn’t until college that I became well-versed in goal setting. I would start out by setting goals for myself during the fall and spring seasons, write them down and hand them in to my coaches. After reviewing, my coaches would always respond with “be more specific”. I would then add to each goal, making it more lengthy and detailed and hand it back, to which my coach would respond with a set of questions: How long will it take to achieve my goal and how will I know when I’ve achieved it? It was then, despite my best efforts through middle & high school, that I finally learned how to properly set goals for myself and how to implement a system to actualize them.
So what is my system? We are often told “think big” and the “sky is the limit”. These can lead to feelings of overwhelm during implementation. While it’s great to set an ambitious goal, it’s best to think of it in parts – break down a big goal into smaller realistic goals to help achieve the big picture. If your goal, for instance, is to make the Varsity team, think about what smaller steps will take you in the direction of achieving that goal. And best not to let these ideas live in your head; write it down in a journal or notebook. In summary, (1) set your goal, (2) break up your goal into smaller parts, (3) write it all down. Now let’s take a closer look at number two.
In order to break up goals into smaller parts to make them achievable, I have found the SMART system to be especially effective. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. To implement, think of the following questions:
Specific – What is going to be achieved? What needs to be done in order to achieve the goal? What exactly are you going to do?
Measurable – How will you know when you have achieved your goal?
Achievable – Is the goal doable? Can you realistically do it?
Relevant – Is the goal relevant and important to you?
Timely – By when would you want/need to achieve your goal?
Once I have my goals set, it’s important that I surround myself with people that will help me achieve those goals. Whether it’s my teammates, coaches, family, or friends, I want to have a support system who will motivate me, especially on my bad days. Another option is someone, such as a teammate, who is striving for a similar goal – in this way, we can help each other achieve our goals together. I think it’s so important to know who those people are in your life, to share the goals you have with them, and welcome their support as you realize the best version of yourself.
Now to put this into action, check your schedule and dedicate an hour this week to set your goals using the new strategies you have learned. You owe it to yourself!