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Be careful what you wish for:

Don't just verbalise your goal, make a plan to achieve it also.
By Loudy Wiggins
Date: June 15 2014
Tags: goal-setting,
Editor Rating:

Most people I know get the general gist of goal setting. Sometimes they even do it unintentionally, but in my experience lack the tools necessary to achieve to their heart's desire.

Whether it’s in regard to career, physical appearance or mindset our hopes and dreams can all be classified as goals.

My first experience of goal setting (that I can remember) was in a 'TODAY' show interview when I was 10 years old.

I verbalised: “I want to go to the Olympic Games and win a medal for Australia.” That was in my gymnastic days and I have no idea where the notion came from, but it was there and inbuilt in my psyche. I don’t think I ever spoke of it again, but it was always in the back of my mind and I put actions behind that goal for over 22 years.

In most cases as we get older, childhood dreams/goals such as - “I want to be a fireman/doctor/nurse/actress/Olympian” etc get muddled and people can end up in a career that is completely unrelated. This might be because the initial goal was totally unrealistic or no actions were behind the words.

Granted, at some point we need to take responsibility and feed our family. That goal of “I want to be a famous actor/actress/singer/musician” needs to take a back seat as a positive mindset does not pay the bills.

I recently wrote something about 'age being just a number' and I was asked by a few if I was making a comeback. I also got some negative comments telling me that age does matter as your body fails you.

My point was missed entirely – I was trying to demonstrate that as we get older our dreams do change, but don’t let age be the determining factor. My desire to put my kids to bed every night or see them every morning outweighs my desire to keep diving and achieving on that stage, so this is not a realistic goal that I am willing to put action behind anymore. It has nothing to do with how old I am.

Similarly if I was injured and my body prevented me from performing at a high level, hopefully I could be realistic and my goals would change.

Goals should be a conscious decision and I think are a really important part of striving to succeed. Pardon the consistent use of clichés, but actions always speak louder than words so things need to be realistic. I am not saying don’t aim for the sky; however, have a clear, concise and specific plan.

For example, it is all well and good to hold onto your “I want to be famous” dream/goal but you need to break it down as 'being famous' isn’t the goal or at least it’s not specific enough to be measurable – it needs an action plan.

To be famous, do you need to be successful? What is your chosen field of success? Granted if you are 'successful' as a musician or an actor, then you will most probably end up being well known, but unfortunately if you are successful as a scientist, then 'famous' is the wrong word to use. You are more likely to be recognised in your own industry.

You then need to go further and define HOW you will succeed.

Goals don’t necessarily have to be about 'success' in its definition. For example a goal may be: “I want to be a good mother and have a happy family life.” You still need to establish how you will do this. Sitting on your phone scrolling through social media for hours on end in front of your children may be something you need to cut back on. Talking calmly and working on patience may be one of the positive steps you have to take to achieving such a goal.

The same goes for weight loss or health goals. The goals need to be informed and realistic. It is all very well and good to say I want to lose 7kg or compete in a body building competition, but to eat 1kg tub of yogurt after dinner every night is blatant self-sabotage and you have to have clear and concise actions behind your goal.

The same goes for stating you want to be fit and healthy, but never going out to exercise or never making time. 5am is a reasonable time to exercise! At home. Don’t blame the kids, don’t blame the fact you don’t have running shoes or the appropriate clothing. Take responsibility and make it happen!

Similarly if your goal actually is to win an Olympic medal but you are consistently missing sessions a week, continuously partying, not making the sacrifices necessary and are not putting action behind your words, then chances are your words will just be empty and real results will not be seen.

Talent, more often than not can only take you so far and that is the reality of elite sport. You need to be hard on yourself and honest when asking if you are doing enough.

Far too often I see people make goals, verbalise them and think that is the way of achieving them. You must be specific and have a game plan. Things must be broken down to the nth degree.

I am also a little against verbalising your goals too much, because as the saying goes, actions do speak louder than words. By all means talk about things but the focus should be on achieving your goals rather than setting your goals.

Throughout my diving career my best results were when when I set goals in my mind and left them unspoken.

But I worked damn hard. I didn’t focus on the goal, but the every day process. Motivation came from within and it was a very personal thing.

I know a lot of sport psychologists will go against this philosophy and encourage verbalising, but for me if I verbalised things I became complacent and didn’t go through the necessary steps to achieving the goals and that is the lesson.

More often than not, people think they are doing the right thing, but in actual fact are slipping in one area or another. For example with weight loss it’s an exact science and many clients say to me, “But I’ve been eating healthily” when they don’t see results. I then will then continue to break it down to uncover their portion sizes are just not correct or they are overindulging just before going to bed. So we become scientific about the issue and results are seen.

If you feel like goal setting is not for you, there are other holistic ways of sorting out a clear picture of what you want in your mind. I found this link greatIt involves writing a letter to the universe. It is similar in thinking – writing everything down and letting it go, but in essence is still goal setting. It’s pretty much asking for what you want, which I love, but again, your visions need to be clear and concise so be careful what you wish for.

Another important factor is to do your research. A client came to me proclaiming she needed to lose 10kg, but this magic number in her head was actually where she thought she would be happy – her BMI was in the healthy range so I advised a change of goal.

I think it’s also really important to be appreciative and grateful of everything in your life – the end goal will NOT make you a happier person. Well it might, but you need to find a happy place now in your current situation. This is one thing that I have personally struggled with, but in all honesty can say I have found that beautiful happy place in my life, but am still aiming for the sky. I’ve learnt to be grateful and count my blessings.

In sport especially I believe you simply can’t have it all if you want to achieve at a really high level. You have to love what you do whole heartedly, so things aren’t really a sacrifice at all. And ask the difficult questions. Are there too many distractions? Is someone sabotaging you? Are you sabotaging yourself?

For beginners, I suggest writing your goals down and devising a plan – then forget about them and go on autopilot. Otherwise you may end up thinking about the end goal too much and not on how to achieve it.

It is definitely about the journey not the destination.

My guidelines for goal setting:

  • Set realistic goals
  • Have an action plan
  • Write it down and let it go
  • Make informed decisions
  • Do your research in your chosen field
  • Actions ALWAYS speak louder than words
  • Be grateful with your current situation
  • Be happy
  • Don’t let others sabotage you
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Love what you do
  • Live in the moment

And most importantly DREAM BIG. Almost anything is possible if you are willing to do the work to get there!

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Anita says: 2020 09 25

This is what I believe in myself and you have the power of your achievements behind you to back this up. I have seen dozens of friends and family verbalizing their goals and just letting it hang there and never do a thing about it. Then there are others who simply disappear for a while and come back having achieved what they want without ever verbalizing it. I have set several goals myself and the ones I do not achieve are due to the fear factor. If I am afraid achieving the goal I set for myself - the fear takes over and I back off the moment I am on the verge of success. Is that something you have faced? On a lighter note I want to buy Omega Cold Press 365 Juicer for better health. I have been putting it off for some time now. Ok I think it is time to face my fears grin

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