At the beginning of the year, you were asked to develop goals for your upcoming roller derby season. I had you reflect on past performances to figure out what areas needed to be improved or what you wanted to achieve. By the end of January, you developed a dream goal, long-term performance goals, mid-term performance goals, and short-term process goals. Why is goal setting essential for mental performance? It’s because goal setting allows you to create your mission statement. Goal setting can give you direction, which allows you to focus your attention on key elements of your performance.
So … how are those goals coming along? Although I wish everyone would answer “great!”, it’s not uncommon for goals to fall through the cracks. At the beginning of the year, most athletes are in their preseason. In preseason, athletes tend to be more optimistic and well rested. There might also be fewer practices, more time to focus on technique/skill, little to no games, fewer league obligations, etc. But as soon as the regular game season picks up, our focus shifts to competing rather than reaching personal goals. Since our minds are preoccupied with other concerns (team goals, team strategies, schedules, etc.), our initial goals can get lost in the chaos.
To those who have reached their mid-term performance goals: Fantastic! Keep up the effort and keep striving to get closer to the peak of the mountain.
To those who got lost along the way: It’s okay because success is never straight. As long as you can learn from an experience, you can still reach your goals.
This Mental Muscle post will focus on the importance of analyzing and re-evaluating your goals. So, whether you feel like you’re on the “right” track to success or you need some help to get back on track, everyone can benefit from review and revising!
Planning – Implementing – Evaluating
Goal setting is not a one-time event. You need to adjust to adapt to your individual needs and to your progress. Goal setting involves three main phases:
- Planning Phase
- Implementing Phase
- Evaluating Phase
The Planning Phase
This phase is what I had you do at the beginning of the year. By using SMART Goals, each of you wrote down a Dream Goal: the outcome that you wish to achieve. From there, you developed three Long-Term Performance Goals and three Mid-Term Performance Goals. These performance goals focused on achieving standards based on your own previous performances. These types of goals move away from outcomes and focus on what can you do! Then from there you created Short-Term Process Goals: Goals that focus on achieving a specific action or behavior. These process goals can be worked on in a monthly, weekly, or daily timeline. Basically, you planned a tentative journey to reach the top of the mountain.
The Implementing Phase
This phase is putting your plan into action. This is why your short-term process goals are important. Short-term process goals allow you to ask “What can I do today/this week/this month that will bring me one step closer to achieving my mid-term performance goal(s)?”. In the planning phase, our motivation is high because we are thinking about what we are going to achieve. It’s in implementing phase where goals tend to fall apart. If we’re not reminded of them, we will forget about them.
Any time that you’re attempting to change a behavior, it’s important to make sure that you hold yourself accountable. You can do this by monitoring and tracking your progress. This is why we use SMART goals. SMART goals allow you to state a specific behavior you want to change and, more importantly, SMART goals are measurable. Sometimes we, as athletes, get too excited and create too many goals. This might add unwanted pressure or stress and could result in quitting the goals, loss of motivation, or even burn out.
The Evaluating Phase
The evaluating phase is what we’re focusing on in this post. Pull out your 2017 goals, and read them out loud to yourself. Are there any major changes? For example, if you recently got injured, your goals might be switched to focus on your recovery. It’s okay to change that dream goal or long-term performance goal. Maybe you realized that you can reach higher than expected, or maybe you realized that these goals are not achievable with your current situation.
If your dream goal and long-term performance goals have not changed, then look at your mid-term performance goals. Have you met these goals? If you met them with ease, then push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you have not met your goals, reflect on the obstacles that got in your way. As mentioned before, most of the issues can be found in the implementing phase, but it’s possible that you need to develop new short-term process goals.
Once you pinpointed the potential problem, head back to the planning phase. If your short-term goals were too many in numbers, unattainable, or not relevant, you need to develop some new short-term process goals. If you feel that you had trouble executing these short-term process goals, then brainstorm different strategies that you could use to help you stay on track. Such as:
- Posting visual reminders (goals, images, quotes)
- Creating a routine or schedule
- Telling a friend to keep you accountable
- Keeping a goal diary to monitor your progress
Once you’ve evaluated your goals and created a new plan, then head back into the implementing phase. The idea is to use your successes and challenges as a learning experience to make stronger and more powerful goals. Remember that success comes with overcoming obstacles. It’s a challenging process that requires discipline and effort. If it was easy, then everyone would be achieving their dreams with ease.
Tips on Keeping Your Goals
1. Remind yourself of your Goals…Make them VISIBLE
Don’t let your goals fade away. Your goals are your mission statement. Write them down and track your progress.
2. Quality over Quantity
Don’t set too many goals. You need to be able to monitor and track your progress without feeling overwhelmed. If you can’t keep track of all the goals you have, then some of the goals will slip through the cracks. Keep it simple.
3. Stay Positive
Reflecting and adjusting goals is part of the process. As I wrote at the beginning of the post, goal setting is not a one-time event. Adjusting goals is a part of the learning process. You want to have challenging goals to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but on the other hand, you need to make sure that your goals are achievable.
Evaluating and adjusting your goals is part of the goal setting process. Don’t be frustrated with your progress. See the obstacles as challenges. Conquering challenges are what builds confidence. Keep striving and keep climbing up that mountain one step at a time!