Goals. Of the hockey sort, or maybe not.

This post started off being about thinking positive and mentally preparing for workouts and other events in your life and then slowly shifted focus. In honour of the hockey season starting this past week I decided that “goals” may be an appropriate topic. As a defence-man I am usually concerned with stopping goals. However, today I am shifting to the offensive a bit and addressing the topic of setting goals. It’s a mash-up of things I have learnt in university classes, books I’ve read, and methods that have worked for me and other individuals I know.

I feel that goal setting is important, as it gives you a sense of direction and accomplishment. The goals you can set can be related to an endless list of things. Health, family, work, sports, and school to name a few large categories. Things like why are you working out today?  Are you trying to get stronger? Or are you trying to get faster, or work on your endurance? Maybe you want to just be able to do a full squat today with good form. Maybe you need to take an hour out of your day to read something that you can learn from. Or if you are super busy all the time and hardly ever sit down and relax, your goal could be to sit down and ENJOY reading a book, having a nap, or watching a TV show. Maybe you want to finish that project, report, assignment, paperwork, or blog post by the end of the day (my goal for the last week…oops). There are tons of goals you can set within one day that can help to make you a better person, parent, employee, hockey player, etc (this list of things you can improve on is also endless; whatever you do, you can always improve at it). I find that if I do not wake up and determine a few goals for the day then I end up doing nothing, going through the motions, and I end the day frustrated because I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything (usually because I don’t). Whereas if I have some goals for that day, even if I didn’t fully achieve them, I feel like I at least accomplished something and improved myself in some way.

Sure setting a goal and not reaching it isn’t always the best. It can leave you disappointed and feeling like you are just wasting your time. Sometimes that is the case, and sometimes we need those failures or shortcomings to bring us back to reality so we can work harder next time. Sometimes it just isn’t your day and you accept it and move on. Think about it this way: maybe you did not get exactly the outcome you wanted but at least you made some progress, you are better for it now than before you started working on that goal. At the very least you know that way doesn’t get the outcome you want, and next time you can try a different approach. You can’t go into the gym every day and set personal records, just like you can’t reach every single goal you ever set. Part of that is because some days you just don’t have your best stuff, but also if you are reaching every single goal you set then you aren’t challenging and pushing yourself as much as you could be.

When I am setting goals I try to use SMART Goals. Most of you have probably heard of SMART Goals but incase you haven’t or need a refesher here is an overview.

SMART Goals:

S – Specific

Your goals should be specific in that it has an end date, dollar amount, can be broken down into smaller bits, and/or a list of items you will need in order to achieve the goal.

M – Measurable

A goal being measurable means that you can track your progress. Be that through the time, dollar amount, smaller goals accomplished to work towards the bigger goal, or what items you have collected.

A – Attainable

It has to be within your wheel house. That being said challenge yourself. Don’t make it a sure thing, make it just a little bit better, higher, harder than that sure thing. You will be surprised what you can do when you really put your mind to it and challenge yourself.

R – Realistic, Relevant, Re-evaluate

Your goals should be something that is possible within your life and should help you to get you where you want to go.  You may also need to re-evaluate your goals every once in a while as things in your life change, or as you get ahead of your goals, or if you bit off more than you can chew.

T – Time-Bound

Your goals NEED an end date or time. Within each goal you should have smaller “check-points” that also have end dates so that you can track your progress. Don’t just set one goal for a year from now, chances are you will procrastinate and not reach that goal. Or you will have this awesome big goal but not know what steps to take to achieve it. I find it helps to also have little goals you can achieve every 4 months. Then within that 4 month goal you could have goals that break down to 1 month, then a few weeks, then even every day or two. Again the more specific you get with things like end dates, and breakdown of goals, the better chance you have of achieving that goal.

So when setting goals for yourself make them SMART. Also make sure to challenge yourself a little bit and see how good you can really get. If things don’t go your way don’t get discouraged. If you don’t reach your goal, you at least made some sort of progress. You may not be where you want to be but you are closer now than when you started. Or if you have not mode much progress it is not the end of the world, at least you know that the approaches you have taken so far are not going to work and now you learn from them and come at that goal with a new and improved approach.

Now go out there, set some goals and make yourself and your life better, you deserve it!!

BONUS INFO:

To help you with goal setting I will give you an example of a goal I have.

One of my main goals is to take at least one hour every day to work on something to improve myself. As a personal trainer this mostly comes in the form of a workout. And within each workout I always set a goal. Whether it is to get a new personal record on a strength lift or try to complete more rounds in a conditioning workout than I did last time. Within this “hour per day” goal I know that the workout part comes easy for me so I also make a point to take at least an hour each week to read a book. Depending on how my day was and what time it is will determine what kind of book I will read. Sometimes it is a novel, other times it is a book that I can learn from (textbooks, anatomy books, mental coaching books, do it yourself books etc.). Another area I struggle in is stretching or mobility so I also make a point to work in an extra hour worth of stretching or mobility work that comes outside of my workouts.  There are a few more areas of my life I hope to add to the list such as mental and spiritual. Also for this to be even more effective I could add in exact amounts of time per area per week rather than “at least…”, or I could have a notebook or whiteboard to keep track of the hours I spend doing different things each week, month or 4 month block.

Hope this was helpful.

Go Get It

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