"Why should I set Goals?"

I am sure you are also being bombarded.

You know, the type of bombardment that we all get via our social media streams this time of the year.

It seems to me that everyone from “pop psychologists” to actors (see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) from “life coaches” to “thought leaders” are telling us at the beginning of the year: “fail to plan; plan to fail”. “If you don’t set your own goals, someone else will set them for you” and my personal favourite “if you don’t set goals you will soon work for someone that does”.

Although some of these tag lines might be cliché and slightly cheesy, they are not wrong about a topic that we discuss at length with our #BVPSportPsychology clients this time of year. That is, you guessed it, goal-setting.

Goal-setting has gotten a bad reputation amongst athletes as being repetitive (it should be) and boring (only if you set bad ones). However, it is a proven cornerstone of peak human performance and it may be the most underrated mental skills process known to man (ok maybe I am over exaggerating but if you don’t set the bar high what’s the point…just like with your goals?)

So, ladies and germs please afford me a few words on why I believe you should set goals in 2019:

1. Goals remind you why you are making the sacrifice

Every athlete, from junior level to provincial, from amateur to professional all make sacrifices to participate in their sport. If you play in your local recreational football league it could mean training later at night after work or giving up time over weekends to participate.

If you compete at the highest level you might have to give up important phases of your life (your teenage years) or even forego “normal” habits. An example of this is the NBA legend Kobe Bryant who stated that he made the decision to sacrifice sleep during his career so that he could train and rehabilitate better (https://www.stack.com/a/how-kobe-bryant-sacrificed-sleep-for-greatness).

If these sacrifices are to prove worthy of your time and effort wouldn’t it be a good idea to link them to a goal so that when you achieve the goal you can show those around you that your sacrifice (and maybe even theirs) was, on some level, worth it?

I don’t know about you but if I am going to work hard, stay up late and make personal sacrifices I want to be clear about when, how and why they paid off. Especially when it comes to being accountable to my loved ones.

2. Goals hold you accountable to others

Speaking of being accountable to others.

It is a GREAT function of goal-setting that when we communicate our goals to those closest to us we often feel a (good) obligation to them to work harder at achieving those goals.

I definitely do not want to explain to my colleagues or clients why I was still sleeping when they expected me to be on the first tee at 6.00am for a practice round. So, when I communicate my goal of being more punctual in 2019 (a real goal for me) to our clients I know that they will expect it of me and in turn I will also expect it even more from myself.

If I am only accountable to myself I love a snooze button on cold winter mornings more than anything and I will sleep in, consequences be damned. However, when I know that my clients are depending on what I shared with them regarding my punctuality goal, I have a very strong reason not to disappoint them.

It doesn’t make the getting out of bed part easier but it does make it more bearable knowing that I am being accountable to those who depend on me.

3. Goals guide you through the good times

I can hear the collective groan. Are goals not supposed to get you TO the good times not THROUGH them? My answer? You would think so but they are also imperative when you taste success.

See the challenge is that we as humans (and athletes) are inherently lazy when it comes to the period after having achieved a goal. Just think of Mr. Caveman when, back in the day, he had a hunt and ate himself to a stand-still (or lie down). He had achieved his goal of survival but the next few hours were crucial in that a predator could take advantage of his immobility.

It is the same with reaching athletic goals. We regularly warn our clients that the only thing that is more “dangerous” than not reaching a goal is achieving it. The reason is that achieving a goal makes many athletes rest on their laurels and they often stop working as hard.

Thus, when you have achieved a goal and the good times are “rollin” it would advisable to re-define your goals and set more challenging ones. Did you achieve many, or all, of your goals for 2018? Then I am speaking to you!

So, in this our first blog of 2019, I want to challenge you to set some well-defined and challenging goals for yourself for the coming year, but be warned: once you hit a few goals this process can become addictive and lead to unforeseen success and growth. Remember you were warned….

All the best and remember to Play GREAT!