Written by Doug Chapman
Goal-setting is the first step in creating your success.
Everyone, even kids, dream of what it would be like to be at the top of his/her profession: the top athlete, the top coach, the top doctor, the top actor, the top entrepreneur, etc. The difference between the people at the top and the people that are still spinning their wheels is that the people at the top had definable goals with a step-by-step plan in how to bring those goals to fruition.
We’ve all heard the story of Michael Jordan. In high school, as a sophomore, he tried out for his school’s basketball team and didn’t make the cut. While so many of us let a disappointment like this ruin our attitude, dampen our spirit, and let the end result wreak havoc in our life, Jordan’s refusal to quit and burning desire to become a success led him to being a two-time inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame. His career with the Chicago Bulls in the late ’80s throughout the ’90s earned him 5 MVP awards, 10 All-NBA First Team designations, 14 NBA All-Star Game appearances, all as he led his team to 6 NBA Championships, combined with many more accolades too extensive to list.
In looking back at his teen years in the sport he stated: “Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it, and that usually got me going again.”
Michael Jordan had a dream. He had a desire. He set his goals, and then he diligently worked every day in order to make that dream a waking reality.
Why do we need to give ourselves goals?
When you give yourself a goal, you are making a commitment to something outside of yourself. You are telling your brain, “I am capable of something more.” In short, you are creating a pathway to success and you’re committing to make it happen.
Keep the big picture in mind, but realize every great picture begins with a palette of paint. It is good to shoot big, to see where it is that you want to go, but in that, understand that there are many steps and many accomplishments to be had before getting to that end result.
No matter how big (making it to Regionals) or seemingly small (getting my squat below parallel) your goal is, there will always be a process in order to accomplish it. How extensive that process is depends on how lofty your goal is from where you are right now.
This is important: Once you have your long-range goal in mind, create a set of smaller and obtainable goals in order to get there. When we set out to and then accomplish our goals, it creates confidence in our abilities. Our brains receive a flood of dopamine, giving us a natural high of good feelings, which further motivates us to do more.
As a rule of thumb, your smaller goals leading to your larger one should be designed so that you may obtain one approximately every two weeks. This will keep you motivated with a positive, can-do attitude.
When you have to work for months on end with only one focus, it is easy to lose sight and become discouraged. On the opposite end of that spectrum, create goals that make you work. When your aspirations are so easy as to be able to skip the gym for two weeks and still get it done, then there is no true sense of accomplishment, no flood of dopamine, and no real drive to achieve.
Steps to Success
How you set your goals and how you talk to yourself is just as important as the quality of goals that you make. Before you create your goals and implement the work, keep the following in mind:
1. Make sure that your goal is quantifiable! A quantifiable goal is one that can be measured. When creating a goal for yourself, be specific and direct with the results that you are hoping to obtain. Everything should be able to be measured in numbers, statistics, or percentages. If you are not getting results from your training, then what are you doing it for? And if your results can not be measured, how do you know if you are making progress?
2. Give yourself a time limit for every goal that you set. In order to reach your goals without getting lost, you not only have to set the goal, but you MUST create a parameter in which to get it done. Giving yourself a time frame is telling yourself, “I am going to make this happen.”
3. Make your goals realistic, obtainable, and a progression. Think Steven Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” Where is it that you want to be in one year or even two years from right now? Visualize it first, and once you have it clearly defined within yourself, begin working your way backward, creating sub goals or the appropriate stepping stones that will enable you to get there.
Keep focus on the small successes you acquire on the way to your greater goal; this will fuel your confidence and more rapidly fuel your desired results.
4. Set your own goals; don’t wait for someone else to make them for you. Everyone loves having a knowledgeable coach that can guide, train, and inspire you to be more, but don’t depend on someone else to tell you what you are capable of doing or attempt to put a passion in your heart. Your goals and your dreams are just that – yours! Make your goals coincide with your passion and you will turn your passion into a way of life. Use your coach to help you get there.
5. Write your goals down. Share them with your family, your friends, or your teammates. At my gym, I have a wall for this. When you write your goal down for the world to see, you become accountable to it and to yourself. As you accomplish each goal, cross it off, and write the date. Give yourself a fist bump and accolade, then move on to your next. Before you know it, you will be reaching your ultimate goal.
Remember, time will pass whether you want it to or not, but what you do with that time is up to you. You can remain where you are right now, or you can redefine yourself into whom you always knew you could be.
Do You Have the Courage to Be Great?
Doug Chapman is the owner of HyperFit USA, home of CrossFit Ann Arbor. CrossFit Ann Arbor is a ten year affiliate and one of the first in the world. Doug leads classes, training camps and online programming. He has coached athletes to nearly 30 appearances at the CrossFit Games including individuals, masters and several teams producing 5 podium finishers. Doug’s interests are in philosophy, history and physics.