From the second I stepped into my teacher education classes in college, I heard the same refrain over and over and over again: “You can’t hit a target that you can’t see.”
Being the smart ass that I am, I would argue that’s not ENTIRELY true. (Something something William Tell.) But the sentiment stands that it’s much, much, much easier to hit a target that exists, stands still, and is easy to see.
This isn’t about getting jacked.
This isn’t about becoming crazy agile.
This isn’t even about clearing that apex jump.
Maybe that’s not even what you want. THAT’S THE POINT.
Goal setting isn’t sexy or fun. But it is INVALUABLE.
It’s really difficult to determine WHAT you should be doing, if you haven’t determined your WHY. Your why is the stand that supports your target, that keeps it within your sight and from moving around widely. Besides, having a goal in hand – something that you actually want to accomplish – acts as it’s own built-in motivation; a rudder to keep you heading in the right direction.
The challenge is to identify the types of goals that really float your boat. (And even some of the things that don’t.)
Because we all get pulled into choosing the ‘shiny object’ goals. The ones that look and sound amazing or that we feel like we SHOULD be doing. But we often don’t stop to think about whether those goals actually fit us. Or whether those targets are really worth hitting at all.
So how do you create a target worth hitting?
#1) You write it down.
THE TRUTH IS: Writing down what you want isn’t hard, but it is scary.
If you write it down, you’ve committed to it to some degree. If you don’t complete that goal, you have that paper staring you in the face reminding you of your failure.
As you start to tease out your wants and what you’re interested in – maybe even writing down your deepest, darkest goals for the first time – don’t think of this goal as an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s a target to aim at. And like most targets, there’s a lot of area to shoot for.
That also means there’s a lot of area to hit.
#2) Look for patterns.
Sift through all of the things you wrote down.
Do you see recurring themes showing up? CIRCLE THEM. That means they’re important. If you wrote down 100 things and 57 of them make mention of stability, then you want to make note of that. Consistent patterns over time can often illuminate where we need to make changes.
#3) Put them in goal language.
What do the little snippets that you wrote above actually mean?
Stability? Great. What does stability look like. What will you be able to do when you are more stable?
Be as specific as possible. Not just what it looks like, but how it feels.
Consider using the format, “I will do x BECAUSE y.” Don’t just identify what the goal is, but why you’re hell-bent on accomplishing it. Plus, you know, we tend to forget how the dots are connected if we don’t explicitly remind ourselves.
#4) Make it measurable.
What’s a goal if you never know IF you actually did it? That’s where measurement comes in.
A measurable goal is one that you are more likely to hold yourself accountable to and be more motivated by because you’ll have actual data about when you’re heading toward it and if you might need to correct course.
So, here’s the main question:
- How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?
Do you have a date you have to finish by? Write it down.
Is it perfection of a skill that you’re chasing? Write it down.
Whatever it is, WRITE IT DOWN.
#5) Give it a deadline.
Goals without deadlines are useless. Harsh perhaps, but true. It’s easy to push the deadline of a goal further and further away until it’s not even really your goal anymore. It’s time to apply a reasonable deadline to your goal.
You may not have the faintest idea of what a “reasonable” deadline is for your goal, but that’s okay. Deadlines sound serious, but they’re really just check-in points. Think of your deadline like this, “I’ll hope that I made my goal by this time-frame and if I didn’t, I’ll re-evaluate.”
If you don’t know for sure, make a mini-deadline that will keep you motivated. When do you want to check-in with your goal again? In 1 month? 3 months?
#6) Be realistic.
I actually kind of hate this phrase because nothing great was ever accomplished by being realistic. Challenging goals, even goals that FEEL beyond what you can do now are great. But you do need to temper your enthusiasm with the reality of your life.
If you’re going on a 2-week vacation next month, chances are good your cross training will take a backseat. (And it should, by the way, have a good time!) If you have a prior or current injury that keeps you from doing something related to your goal, than you may have to make adjustments. If you aren’t committed to or motivated by your goal, your chances of success are lower. Lack of support and accountability might get in your way. And you might not really want it all that much. (Like maybe you made this goal because you felt like you “should”.)
Take the time to critically review the goals you’ve written and make sure that they’re really doable (or at least not FRUSTRATINGLY CHALLENGING) given your current circumstances.
#7) Break it down.
The goals that you’ve made up to this point are probably broad, over-arching goals called outcome goals.
So how do you plan to get to your outcome goal? That’s what you have to figure out next. Looking at your big goal(s), think up what small steps you might have to take to get there. This is another brainstorming session, so just write down as many things as you can think of for each of your goals.
The things you list may be easy things like buying a specific item or may need to become a part of your weekly cross training plan.
Need help walking through the goal setting process?
Want some examples of what each step looks like?
Time to crush some goals, yeah?