February has ended and, according to US News and World Report, that means that approximately 80% of you have already failed to keep your New Year’s Resolution. That’s really pretty sad. Where is our drive? Our focus, self-control, and our discipline seem to have been put away along with the holiday decorations.
I love this time of year though. This time of year separates the motivated from the unmotivated and can go on to dictate the entire tone of 2018. As a professional mountain biker, these months, in the dead of winter, when the races are few and far between, are when the next season is won or lost. The off-season dictates so much of what happens when the crowds begin cheering again at the World Cups from March through September. As an athlete, this is the time that the fire is lit and the thirst for success builds to a point that it can no longer be contained.
As a coach though, while some of my athletes thrive, others seem to slowly whither away. I look at my client list and wonder what separates those who are putting check marks next to workouts and those just putting check marks next to days. It isn’t always the fastest athletes who are pounding away miles, and it isn’t always the slower ones who sit down without a fight. The difference between these athletes is who is pedaling toward a goal.
Goal setting has to be one of the most underestimated and underutilized psychological strategies available to the general public. Literature supports the fact that goal setting does indeed increase self-efficacy and improve performance. So why aren’t people doing it? Maybe they are; they are just doing it wrong.
Goals are extremely complex and fascinating human desires whittled down to the bare bones to build the person that we most aspire to be. Goals can’t simply be cast out on a whim; they must be artfully and skillfully produced. In fact, goals must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. For example, if your objective is to “be able to ride further,” then it’s time to make a SMART goal.
First, what does further mean? Set a number and commit to it. By putting a number in your goal you have made it measurable as well. Next, it should be attainable. Don’t set a goal so far away that you can’t even see it with binoculars. If you can only
ride 5 miles at a time, don’t make it a goal to do a double century in 6 months.
Relevant: Is this goal relevant to you? Does it tie into your overall desires? Do you have a ‘why’? This goal should feel important and significant to you. Finally, set a time. This can be the most intimidating part of the goal setting process, but once you have a time frame you are committed. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said, “If your goals don’t scare you then they are not big enough.”
So now you have set a goal for 6 months from now, you are ready to chase toward it full force, right?. Actually….probably not. Chances are you are procrastinating and your once 6 month goal has changed to a 5 month goal and 5 months turned into 4 and now your goal is no longer attainable. Once you set your outcome goal, it’s time to set the short-term goals. Short-term goal setting is your motivation. Long-term goals are educated dreams. Performance goals are the levels that you have to conquer in order to reach your ultimate goal. These goals can be physical, tactical, or psychological. Finally, process goals are the day to day things that you do in order to succeed. Terry Orlick, in his book In Pursuit of Excellence discusses “docide.” Each day you must decide to do something that leads you toward your goal. Once you have all these pieces in place. Write down your goals and start to feel the adrenaline rush of a little pressure.
Take note that in all of the example goals, they are written “I will” and not “I hope” or “I want.” Goal setting is an all-in process. The least you can do it show yourself a little confidence.
Photo taken by Luke Batten
Now you have set your goals and you have a plan, there is only one thing left to do: practice succeeding. While most people visualize, I like to take it one step further. In 1947, College basketball coach Everett Case wanted a souvenir from his basketball championship when he cut down the nets. It was in that year that he set a long-standing tradition. Decades later, Jimmy Valvano took a team with a less than impressive record and had them practice cutting down the nets for when they won the championship game. The success of his tactic through a long string of unbelievable wins has people far and wide practicing for when they succeed.
Take a moment and imagine that one thing that you have wanted to accomplish for what feels like forever. Now feel it, really feel what it would be like to achieve it. Keep doing that over and over again, and I bet your goals won’t fade like your New Year’s resolutions.
Fat tires, sand and surf? Trifecta!
Spencer reminds that we all started somewhere and what we take for granted can be intimidating to a beginner.
CG saw a picture on Valentine’s Day that reminded him of the meaning of true love. With his bike.