For some, goals keep us motivated throughout the days, months and years… For others, goals provide a sense of purpose in life. For some it is a way to keep learning. Goals mean different things to different people, but what I have learned throughout the years is that we all should set goals. Creating and completing goals definitely provides a sense of accomplishment and usually provides focus in a world where it is easy to lose focus. Goals help organize your time, help you take pride in your achievements, and provides vision and motivation.
Goals will look different for different people. An obvious athletic SUP type goal would be completing a certain race. Another goal might be to complete a certain manoeuvre on a wave. Or yet another goal might be to complete the Maliko run in a certain time. These are just examples of different styles of goals. The cool thing about goals is that they are unique to the creator of the goal and therefore should not be judged or duplicated in the same fashion by others because they won’t mean the same thing or accomplish the same feeling.
Write your goal down
I like to write down my goals in places I will constantly see them. I like the self reminders of what my goal is and why I am trying to complete it. I like to write it down in a journal, or sometimes I use sticky notes and put them in different places.
Tell someone about your goal
Once you say your goal out loud it makes it feel credible and real. Once it is said out loud someone else can also hold you to it. Its action time…I like to share my goal with my husband, a close friend, a family member or a colleague at work. Who I share my goal with kind of depends on the goal, but I will share it with someone important in my life that I trust.
Make it measurable
It is key to be able to know when you have reached your goal, so making it measurable will help you know that. Also, creating a measurable goal will help you get a sense of its achievability to you at the time the goal is created. Being able to measure your goal will really help to define it. It will allow you to know when you have achieved or not achieved your goal.
Set a timeline
You need to give your goal a timeline or there is a very high chance you will never achieve it… it will just linger and linger and linger and you will likely make excuse after excuse after excuse about not working towards it because you can…and eventually you will likely forget about it or lose interest in it. Remember, your goal is pliable, so setting a timeline does not mean you cannot change it, you can…. but the point is you need to set a timeline.
Achieving your goals
The best advice I can give to achieving your goals is to create stepping stones. In other words, create lots of smaller goals that work towards achieving your bigger goal. Creating baby step goals will really help with motivation, as you feel like you are constantly moving toward your goal instead of feeling like the light at the end of tunnel is just not there. Also, by creating some smaller goals working towards your main goal, you will be able to constantly readjust your goals to ensure it is still realistic and achievable in the time frame developed.
Your smaller goals should also have measurable abilities and timelines. Remember, goals once set can be changed and tweaked; they are not written in stone, so don’t be scared to realize you might not achieve your goal. Instead of being upset or de-motivated, tweak your goal in a way that it is achievable once again. It is also important to not make your goal too achievable or easy. By making it too easy it defeats the purpose of creating a goal and eventually you will not gain anything from it. It definitely takes practice to create goals that are right for you, so it’s important not to get frustrated but instead be aware and learn. We all tend to learn the most from our mistakes.
Reflect on your goal
Take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your goal. Celebrate and embrace the fact that all your hard work paid off. Once your main goal has been achieved/or not achieved it is time to do some reflection.
Ask yourself these key questions:
- Did you achieve your goal? Why or why not?
- If you did achieve your goal, what helped?
- If you didn’t achieve your goal, what could you do differently to achieve it next time? Was it realistic? Not enough time?
Remember it is totally okay not to achieve your goal, don’t get down on yourself, but also don’t leave it be and move on. You need to understand WHY you didn’t achieve your goal and what you would change next time in order to better help you achieve it.
Reflecting is a really important step that often gets missed out. This is a key step in the learning process. You can better understand yourself, your desires, needs, strengths and weaknesses by reflecting. This process is called learning from experience. We tend to learn from experience our whole lives, but it is important to take the time and really reflect to really learn.
Some people keep journals/diaries, some reflect with a partner/friend/family member or coach and some people just take time on their own and reflect in their minds. Its important to find whatever method works best for you and then do it. I personally like to reflect during long solo runs or flatwater paddles. Setting goals is a wonderful action you can do on your own with someone you care about. It will really help you focus, motivate and learn. I strongly encourage you to try it out if you don’t do it already.
A version of this editorial was originally published on February 8, 2015 in our athlete profile, Tips from the Top with Lina Augaitis.