The Tripping Point of Goal Setting

Goal setting is essential. It is important to know what you want or where you want to go in sports and in life. I think we are all in agreement that goal setting is a critical component to success.

Sometimes though, athletes can get tripped by goal setting. Let’s apply an analogy that can help you understand how goal setting can trip up some athletes.

This analogy is regarding weight loss… Many people, who want to lose weight, create a weight goal, such as the person who is 200 pounds and wants to lose 20 pounds. So this person sets a goal weight of 180 pounds. To motivate themselves, this person writes in big, bold numbers “180” on a piece of paper and sticks it to their bedroom mirror, so they can see their goal weight every morning when they wake up. Each day, this person sees “180” then heads to the scale to measure their current status. Immediately after, this person goes for their morning run or hits the gym determined to hit that “180” mark. After a several weeks, this person sees a 1-3 pounds weight loss but that’s it. This “180” goal that they see every darn morning becomes a reminder of want they are NOT. This can de-motivate some people to the point they give up on their diet and exercise regimen feeling frustrated and discouraged.

The tripping point is not the goal itself but the over-focus on the goal and not enough emphasis on the process.

The most important part of goal setting is just the goal, but the plan of attack and putting that plan in action. If your goal is to go to Hawaii but you don’t plan out the trip and make the necessary arrangements, you will be stuck on your couch dreaming of luaus and hula dancing.

The whole point of this post is that goal setting is much more than writing a goal on a piece of paper. It requires a detailed action plan and getting your ass in gear.

If you are a marathoner who wants to drop 5 minutes off your personal best, what is your plan?

What do you need to do in terms of your physical training? Do you need to ratchet up the intensity of your training? Do you need to work on your flexibility, get more rest, change your diet, improve your technique, etc.?

What do you need to do in terms of your mental game? Do you need to learn to relax your body when your muscles tighten during a race, learn to overcome discomfort, focus more efficiently throughout the marathon, etc.?

How are you going to implement your plan? What will you do this week? What will you do TODAY?

Goals are essential for athletic success. No doubt goals can motivate but the greatest motivational factor is when you see progress in the short term… those little steps that, when added together, become big leaps. That requires a focus on the process or what you can do right NOW to advance towards your goals.

The lesson is that the PROCESS is the driving force that brings you closer to your goals, not merely a post-it note attached to your bedroom mirror.

So I will leave you with this one question to ponder… What will you do TODAY to move closer to your GOAL?