Supercharge Your Goals
A Different Perspective on Goal Setting
Abraham Lincoln once said, “A goal properly set is halfway reached.” In other words, setting goals is a job all in itself and a very important job at that! So how do you set a goal properly? I believe the answer lies in examining how your mind functions around goal setting. Your goals will be more authentic and true if you can set them in a positive frame of mind. They will mean more if you understand what is truly motivating you to set these goals. You will have vastly more success if you can get your subconscious on your side with the goals you set. Being able to use your mind to visualize this success will only perpetuate your ability to do the work necessary. The following steps will help you set goals from the perspective of the mind. After all …the body goes where the mind goes.
Step #1 Access a peak state:
When you are ready to write your goals, the most important thing is to access a state of peak emotion. I don’t mean bouncing around like a bingo ball, but instead accessing a feeling of confidence, power and possibility. Right now, think of a time when you had a great accomplishment in your career. It might be a race result in which you performed to your ability, or a great training session when you fired on all cylinders or a time when you handled a tricky situation with ease and grace. Take a minute to relive that experience. Recall the sights and smells and sounds and let the feeling you feel at that moment flow and flourish throughout your body wherever it wants to go.
Now, when you have that powerful feeling fully charged, state your goal. Write down what comes to mind, even if you have to scrawl it quickly. You can go back later and smooth out the wording. At this stage, capture the essence of the goal.
Step #2 Identify your rationale:
When you have a goal statement in front of you, ask yourself as though there is a part of you who could answer, “What is important about this goal?” Wait for a response. You don’t have to do anything; just listen. When you get a response, ask about the response you just got, “What is important about that?” Again, wait for a response, and when it comes, ask, “What is even more important than that?” Continue asking this question until you get an answer that sounds something like, “There isn’t anything else.” Scribble down the response you got. Now you know why you want to achieve this goal, down to your bedrock fundamental self.
Look at your goal statement in light of this fundamental reason for wanting it, and if it helps you, revise your goal statement to make it more powerful.
Step #3 Make sure your goal is stated in the affirmative:
Our subconscious cannot tell the difference between a negative and a positive. I’ll prove it to you……don’t think about an elephant. Are you picturing a gray animal with a trunk right now? The same goes for our goals. If we state a goal in the negative such as “I will not bonk in my next race.” Our subconscious hears….”I will bonk in my next race.” To avoid this, be sure to state what you want and will move toward (and not what you don’t want or are trying to get away from).
Step #4 Make sure your goal is under your control:
Our minds are much better at processing a goal that is completely under our control. For example, you might want to say, “Finish in the top 10 and qualify for Kona.” But there are other people racing, and you can’t predict what they will do on race day. So maybe a more useful goal statement could be “to run the second half of the run faster than the first.”
Step #5 Put a deadline on your goal:
A goal without an end date is a mere wish. A goal with an end date is a problem scheduled for a solution, and our minds can process this problem and solution much easier. Parkinson’s Law states that work will expand to fill up the time set aside for the work. A small job can turn into an unnecessarily large job if you give it too much time. Set a reasonable deadline. For most triathletes, the deadlines are set for you—by the race director who picks the race date.
Step #6 Make a road map to achieving your goal:
Ask yourself how you will know when you are halfway to achieving your goal. If you are at point A and want to get to point C, how will you know when you have reached point B? Next ask yourself how you will know when you are half way between Point A and Point B. Break the journey down into as many small steps as you need and repeat Steps 1 through 5 for each of these intermediate goals. For example, you may have an ultimate goal of becoming a professional triathlete. Perhaps the halfway point to this goal is racing well enough to place in the top 10 in the age group field at a big race. Maybe the halfway goal to this is racing well enough to win the age group field at a smaller race.
Step #7 See yourself achieving your goal:
Make a mental movie of achieving your goal and rewrite the script in different ways. See it happening through your own eyes then see it happening as if you are watching yourself as a spectator. Make it color. Make it bigger. Add new characters. Add the other senses of smell, taste, touch. Choose a soundtrack for your achievement. You are the director: make the movie perfect. Keep playing with these shoots until you find the right combination that really works for you. It should be very powerful. You will know you have it when the goose bumps pop up on your arms.
Step #8 Make it happen:
Pick the first step from #6 above and get started. As you go forward be sure to continue running the final cut of your movie from step #7. Run it often. You might consider establishing a daily routine to run your movie— maybe first thing when you wake up or last thing before you drift off to sleep, or before you brush your teeth. Extra impact: run this video before every training session. After a couple of days, you may find that your movie takes now only a few seconds to run but you still get the full impact of its attractive and compelling force.
Setting goals is essential. Setting goals in writing increases your chances of achieving them. Visualizing your journey and all the steps toward your goal vastly enhances your ability to realize your goal. These eight steps above will help you choose goals wisely, state them usefully and pursue them toward success.
Will Murray is a four-time Ironman finisher and has an NLP Practitioners’ Certificate. He works with athletes, students and non-profit leaders on mental conditioning.