goals accomplished

5 Key Steps for Creating Effective Goals

The best way to get a great start for 2019 is to set goals that inspire you (and scare you a bit). To help you do that, here are some of the steps I take athletes through when working with them on their goals.

Name a Dream Goal you’re passionate about

Dream goals define the ultimate achievement you barely believe to be possible. They are the dreams you struggle to admit to yourself and often have trouble saying out loud to your friends and family. You may already have one and be working toward it. The key to setting your Dream goal is to find something you’re passionate about, because passion is the foundation upon which achievements are built. There will be many goals to achieve along the way, all of them aimed at bringing you one step closer to your dream, and it is the passion you feel for your ultimate goal that will give you the drive and commitment to stay on your journey.

Set realistic and challenging Confidence-Builder Goals

Once you have a Dream Goal, it’s time to work backwards and determine the steps necessary to reach that goal. These steps determine the roadmap that ensures you stay on the right route. A person who is justing starting out in cycling can’t set the solitary goal of completing a 100-mile ride; the distance from here to there is too great to be covered in one step. Rather, breaking the Dream Goal into smaller, more manageable Confidence-Builder Goals provides the opportunity to see and recognize the steady progress your making. For the beginner cyclist, this might mean setting the goal of completing a 25-mile ride within two months, then a 50-mile ride within two months after that, and so on.

Focus on the process

Many of us are outcome-oriented, choosing to focus only on results and not on the process of getting there. Competitive athletes are notoriously outcome-oriented; anything but victory is seen as a failure. The problem is that competitors in many sports lose far more often than they win. In cycling, it’s common for the most successful racers to lose more than 90% of the races they enter. What keeps athletes engaged? They love the process of training and making incremental improvements. The process is something you can control, the outcome of a sprint or whether you get a flat at the beginning of an event is not. Achieving process-oriented goals increases the likelihood of reaching your outcome goals because they define all the steps and activities that make the desired outcome possible.

Recognize the difference between a setback and derailment:

Changing your lifestyle to improve your fitness and performance is a long-term goal, and anything that takes time to achieve is guaranteed to have its share of ups and downs. It’s important to keep things in perspective so you can ride through the ups and downs without losing sight of the big picture. A setback is a minor and temporary detour from your planned route, maybe a week or two where your schedule is so hectic that you can’t exercise like you wanted to, or a period of heavy travel that leads to lots of take-out and airport meals. Your commitment to your goals is still intact, and you getting back on track is just a matter of bringing your life back to its normal balance.

A derailment occurs when you lose sight of your goals, when you abandon the route because you feel like you’re so far off track that you’ve lost all you ever gained. Don’t let a minor setback escalate into a derailment. The work you’ve done to achieve process-oriented goals and Confidence Builder goals won’t be undone by a few tough weeks. Setbacks happen, and the important thing is to recognize it for what it is, get things back in order, and move forward again.

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Recognize and celebrate your accomplishments

I’m not sure when exactly it became wrong to be proud, but it’s time to stand up and take credit for the work you do to accomplish your goals. Don’t just shrug it off for the sake of being humble and say, “Well, there’s still a long way to go.” or “It’s not that big a deal.” I’m not asking you to brag, but I’m telling you that when you achieve a goal it’s good to take the time to reflect on the work you’ve done and the steps you’ve taken, and feel the pride that comes from accomplishment.

Celebrating your achievements closes that chapter of the journey; you started it, worked on it, achieved it, and it’s done. It’s in the bank, and now you can turn your attention to the next goal and work towards the day when you can again celebrate completing one more step towards your Dream goal.

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