Earlier this week, I talked about the importance of having both long and short term goals on any goal getting journey. The reality for many of the athletes I work with, myself included, is that long term goals are the only ones we actually set and track. The reason for this isn’t because there isn’t acknowledgement of all the hard work that has to get there–athletes are very accustomed to hard work–it’s the assumption that you already know what needs to get done. Which is true. The problem isn’t a lack of knowledge, it’s a failure to plan accordingly using the knowledge we have.
We know, through years of research and neuroscience, that specific goals do best, especially compared to ones that sound more like “work hard”, “stay focused”. Why? Well, the brain could interpret “work hard” as many different things. “Working hard” in many ways could look like ‘hardly working’ or working incredibly hard bashing your head against the same wall thinking “what is it that I’m doing wrong”? The moral of the story is that specificity means exactly that when it comes to our short term goals. Our brain needs to know exactly which turn to make next, exactly when. It’s a lot like getting directions on your phone; Siri doesn’t tell you, “turn left in about 2 minutes” you hear, “turn left on Union St in 2km”.
The secret to goal setting isn’t just about your motivation, your commitment, or your willingness to push outside of your comfort zone. The secret to goal setting is in the details. Once you set your big, long term goal the work is just beginning. Your next step is to plot your journey like directions on a roadtrip to a destination you’ve never been before.
Lauren Williams | High-Performance Coach