I believe in the power of goal-setting and what it can do for you. For the last 10 years or so, I have set goals for the new year at the end of the previous year. I have read a lot on the subject, have taken a short online course on setting goals, and now have a presentation I do for middle school and high school kids on goal-setting.
I also know that when I set my goals, I am setting them for the year or the quarter, and then I will establish monthly, weekly, and daily commitments and habits to work to reach those goals. I know that the habits and actions I take each day are going to affect how things go that week, which will affect that month, quarter, and year.
And of course, while I set the goals for a year, I also know that on December 31st just before midnight, there is no magic scoreboard that pops up and says, “Congratulations! You have (or have not) made it. You are now done with your goals.” It’s just that the concept of January 1st to December 31st wraps our goals up into a nice neat package that we can use to focus ourselves for improvement.
Not Built for This
The problem is that WE are not necessarily built for the long haul. People are just too darn impatient for this to work very well. And in my 58+ years on the planet, that has gotten so much worse, as our “instant gratification” world has moved at light speed to bring people to the things they want so much faster.
So even though I grew up in a time where I couldn’t just find out the score of a game in another part of the country (or even in another country) anytime I wanted, the world operates that way now. As a result, I have fallen prey to that kind of mindset in so many aspects of my life, expecting things to be at my fingertips instantaneously.
One of my goals every year for the last ten years or so has been to lose 10-15 pounds. Even though that is my goal each year, I have yet to achieve it. In fact, at the start of this year I was about 5 pounds heavier than I was last year when I set my goals. That means I have to lose that many more pounds this year to get to where I would really like to be. I have set benchmarks for myself that I want to hit every 3 months, so we will see how it goes.
However, here’s the bigger issue. I DON’T WANT TO WAIT THAT LONG! I am tired of how I look right now. I don’t want to wait 3, 6, 9, or 12 months to look the way I want to look. I WANT IT NOW!
I know it doesn’t work that way. I know that I didn’t just magically gain this weight in two weeks (although I think I could do that a whole lot easier than lose it in two weeks!). It was a long process. Well, the losing of that weight is going to be an even longer process.
Pain vs. Pleasure
But my instant gratification gene just doesn’t like that. So, I have changed some things up this time. The pain of the result of me not handling myself the right way has finally overtaken the pleasure of the moment that led to me not handling myself the right way. So I have made some pretty big changes just this week.
On Monday, I started myself on a “No-Sugar Challenge.” Now, I am not someone who eats a lot of sweets, like candy, cookies, and ice cream, so that is not going to be a major change. But I do have some things that are part of my routine that are sugar traps that I have finally decided to drop for the next few of weeks to see how I do.
I once heard that guys drink their calories, especially their empty calories. “Right here, dude! That’s me.” I am addicted to Monster energy drinks with probably a sandbox worth of sugar in those. I drink coffee when I wake up, but I have to have cream & sugar in it, and I like to add Carmel sauce. Ouch! I also like to have a couple of cocktails on weekends (and if I’m going to be completely honest with you, one or two weeknights) that have Coke in them (or margarita mix), not to mention the alcohol itself.
I’m sure I am getting FAR too much sugar just in those habits. So, I have sworn off sugar until the end of the month (19 days) to see how I do with it and what kind of dent in my weight it can make. I’m not avoiding foods that naturally have sugar in them, just those with the added sugars or with me adding the sugar.
I’m hoping that the results after just three weeks have me wanting to do it for longer and have me not craving those things anymore. But it’s been hard for the just last 3+ days as I write this. I don’t like straight coffee or even coffee with only cream, so I am trying some different ways to flavor it. Nothing so far has made me excited. I have tried tea, but with the same result. I am three days without a Monster, and I am jonesing for one of those, man! Fortunately, three days with no cocktails has not been so hard as I generally don’t have one of those early in the week anyway. But how is it going to be this weekend when there are football games to watch?
Good Habits Create Other Good Habits
Interestingly enough, one of the “byproducts” of setting up this challenge for myself, is that it has focused me on more than just “no sugar.” I have started to be cognizant of everything that I am eating and drinking. While I am not going crazy with this, I am focused on eating better foods and a little bit less of them. I am focused on making sure I work out at least 5 days-a-week.
I even took “Before” pictures of myself this week as motivators for me to do what I need to do. I have never done that before, and I can see why. I hate how I looked in those pictures. But so far, the pictures are working. Every time I think about having something I shouldn’t, I think of the pictures and think, “Nah, I’m good without that drink” or whatever I was considering consuming.
I also get on the scale every morning, and I am not too happy with that either. Every time I think, “Okay, here’s a day where I’m going to be down 2 or 3 pounds,” I haven’t lost an ounce, or I have actually gained a pound. And that is where this concept of wanting it NOW is so difficult. I’ve only been at this specific challenge for three-and-a-half days, and yet I feel like I should be down a few pounds already. Losing weight is a long game, but I want to jumpstart it and move it quicker. But it just doesn’t work that way.
Works for Coaches & Teams
So why am I telling you this? Because this is what happens with all kinds of goal in our lives, not just this one. And as coaches, we need to recognize this for ourselves and for our teams.
Any goal worth setting and achieving should push us out of our comfort zone. It should be hard if it is going to make us better. It should stretch us and push us to new levels in various ways. The classic, “If it were easy, everyone would do it” comes to mind.
And it should also take time. It should not be an instant gratification thing. You need to invest some time and effort in it if it is truly a worthwhile goal.
Consider where you are right now. Winter sport coaches in the middle of your seasons – how are you doing with your goals? Were they too ambitious? Not ambitious enough? Do you need to readjust them or more importantly, readjust your habits and actions in order to reach them?
Spring sport coaches – as you are preparing for your seasons, are you setting goals that will stretch you and push you out of your comfort zone? (Are you even setting goals?) Have you started meeting with your teams to discuss your goals, your standards, and the actions and habits you need to develop to achieve them and live them?
Summer and fall sport coaches – Are you evaluating how things went last year with regards to achieving your goals? Have you figured out where you succeeded on your journey, where you fell short, and what you need to do differently this year when implementing them? Are you going to create a plan for how you want to develop and then enact your goals and team’s standards this coming year?
Wherever you are on this timeline continuum, you need to have a plan of action to make your goals a reality. You need to make sure that you have thought out what you want, how you want to enact it, and by when you want it achieved. Then you need to figure out your action steps to get to your goals, the work you need to do to achieve them.
But you also need to have patience. As they say, “It’s not going to happen overnight.” Goals worth achieving take time and effort to achieve them. And both of those things – time and effort – need to be part of the equation. Your goals need to be achievable, but they need to stretch you. They also need an investment of your time over time to really devote the right amount of energy and effort to achieve them.
What can you do right now to make your goal-setting something that creates real change for you this year? What do you need to do in a few months to make sure that your path to achieving those goals is the right one? And what do you need to do as you are coming to the end of your deadline to make sure that you are on pace to achieve them? Plan that work and then work that plan. Stay focused and play the long game when it comes to working to achieve your goals!
Okay, I have to go now. I'm meeting my wife for a caramel macchiato and some Krispy Kreme Doughnuts! OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!