Walking out of my last exam on the 17th I finally had the chance to turn off my brain and take some time to relax. Having been home, in Owen Sound, for 12 days now, I've spent most of my time seeking out snow at Highlands Nordic so I can train, spending time with my family, and working on occasion. I've also taken some time to reflect on my past semester and re-evaluate how my training has been going. Truth is, although everything has been going reasonably well, there's always things I can be improving.
My goals for this year were pretty vague since I wasn't sure how I would adapt to my new surroundings. Now, feeling well rested and having new motivation I'm ready to get back into gear and refine my goals. There is no wrong time to begin setting goals but with the new year now right around the corner, many people tend to make new year's resolutions. Some resolutions that people make are pretty lofty and may be quite vague as mine was at the beginning of the semester. As a result many people will become discouraged by unreasonable expectations and will fall short of their goals.
Although I'm no expert on goal setting, I'd like to think some of what I know about goal setting is valid, as it's helped me attain or come close to attaining past goals. Hopefully with these next few, simple pointers, attaining your goals for 2015 will be more achievable.
To begin with, dreaming big is never a bad thing. Setting a goal for yourself that is far off in the future and might be seemingly impossible now, can help drive your motivation. The key to reaching that goal however, is within the steps you take along the way. When setting a long term goal for yourself, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Be sure that your goal is something you really want, and not what others want for you. If your goal isn’t actually important to you, then the long process of achieving your goal can be daunting, unenjoyable, and even unsuccessful. When thinking about your goal, try to explain why it is important so that it becomes evident that you want to pursue it.
Once the goal is clear, it can be helpful to write it down. I like to write my goals down in places that I can be reminded of them on a daily basis. Some places I tend to write my goals on include: my screen savers, backgrounds, and on mirrors. When writing your goal down try to be as specific as possible and include a deadline.
Once you’ve decided on a goal, and why it is important for you to achieve it, begin setting smaller goals. Every goal you make, small or big, should always follow the same general format. They should be specific, you should have some way of monitoring your progression towards the end goal, and they should have deadlines. For instance, if your end goal was writing a book by the end of the year, your small goals to get you there might include, finishing 2 chapters a month, and then breaking it down even further to finishing a page a day. Thinking about what you can do everyday that will take you one step closer helps you stay focused and inline with meeting your goals.
Another useful thing to do is to constantly check in with yourself. One thing that I have done in the past is set monthly reminders on my phone. I’m always re-asking myself why my end goals are important but when the reminder pops up I’m guaranteed to at least have done it once a month. If my reasons for pursuing my goals are still true then I go on to check and make sure I’ve been meeting my smaller goals. If the answers “yes”, good, keep doing what you’re doing. Chances are however, you’re going to experience some set backs. Perhaps meeting one of your daily or monthly goals is taking you a bit more time then anticipated. In that case, you just have to realize that its okay, and then read just some of your goals to make them more attainable.
One of the most important things I have learnt about goal setting, is that your end goal isn’t the end all be all. At first I had difficulty wrapping my head around that. For me, if I didn’t reach my final goal then I failed. Thinking back to one goal in particular, that was the case. I tried to do everything right: I wrote my goals down, I set daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, evaluated and re-evaluated my progress and more, but still having done all that, I fell just short of my goal. I was pretty devastated and was hard on myself at the time but after talking to a sports psychologist my team had worked with that past year, I began to realize that my goal wasn’t a complete failure. Although I hadn’t reached the goal I had in mind exactly, I improved so much over that year. Had I not set all of those smaller goals for myself, it’s quite possible that I wouldn’t have come even close to reaching my end goal. It might seem a bit obvious to some people but for me at a young age it took someone else to point out my accomplishments for me to get it.
Now when I set long term goals for myself I think of it more like a map and my end goal is more like a direction. I am somewhere on the map (point A). My goal is somewhere far away on the map (point B). In order for me to reach my end goal, I’m going to have all sorts of obstacles along the way, just as roads, rivers, and other topographical features on a map will inhibit your ability to take the most direct route from point A to point B. Even if I don't reach my final destination by my deadline, as long as I have moved in the direction of my goal then it was a success. Not reaching my goal, gives me an opportunity to find areas which I can strengthen and will help me reach future goals.
Happy New Year and may your goals for 2015 come true!
Interesting Reading. . .