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Setting Goals to Motivate

November 16, 2017


In our last post we talked about different styles of motivation and the importance of proper motivation when we compete (in athletics or in life). Part of that discussion was a quick touch on goal setting and how this process can lead to motivation and success or demotivation and burnout. 


We all know what goal setting is from a basic standpoint. We want to achieve X by a certain date and off we go. Sounds like a simple concept doesn't it? It is not really that simple. You (or your coach, manager, parents, business partner) have to be strategic in how you set goals. As kids who get involved in a sport they love, it is not uncommon to overhear "I want to be in the Olympics someday" or "I want to make the NHL/NFL/MLB". You should DREAM BIG, so long as you plan small.


The ultimate goal for many is the idea of making it to the top of their sport or their profession. Once you are identified as having talent in your chosen sport (or field) and your approach and training changes, having this 1 singular goal will stress you out and hinder your performance. All of a sudden, everything you do, every performance you have, every training session hinges on that goal. Talk about pressure! What happens when you inevitably make a mistake or have a poor performance? You are measuring yourself against a long term goal that cannot provide immediate relief. You are setting yourself (or your athlete) up for failure.


The solution is to be strategic about your goal setting planning. Keep your DREAM BIG goal -  it is the top of the mountain achievement! Micro or small goals need to be set during the path where you can get feedback and achieve victory. The first step in this process is to set a baseline to determine where you at in your performance, your environment and your attitude.  Your stats need to be recorded to show gradual improvement (your coach likely has this already - if not change your coach). From this baseline start to plan weekly goals, monthly goals, quarterly and yearly all with the main goal of making it BIG in mind. What does this do for you? It gives you digestible chunks (targets) that are within reach, attainable, challenging and (hopefully) fun.


Confidence, motivation and enjoyment begins to grow as you achieve your smaller goals. You can see and feel tangible rewards for your hard work. The top of the mountain does not seem so far away anymore because you are focused on the climb and getting over certain cliffs. We are not saying this is a foolproof method that will guarantee you are the next Olympian. It is a start. It is a proper start to send you on your way.


Small victories are important for motivation. Small rewards are equally as important. You set a new personal best time in the 200M sprint this month? Amazing! You achieved your goal. Here is a token, a letter, a cheesy medal to signify this event. It doesn't have to be big or expensive, it just has to be meaningful. 


Goal setting is not simple, it takes careful thought and diligent planning by a great coach or manager. Yet, it is an absolute necessity for enhancing motivation and increasing your chances of success. What is stopping you?


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