When you’re working on goals, it’s important to have a roadmap in place. It’s not enough to just say “I want to do this”. Make a plan for how you’re going to do this. Below are a few things that have helped me in the past.
Set smaller goals on the way to your larger goals
So you’re a :54.73 in your 100 yard freestyle, but you want to break :50. Great! But if you constantly compare the goal of :50 to the times you are going right now, it’s going to seem insurmountable. Instead, set a smaller goal that’s on the way to the larger: for example, your smaller goal might be to go :52.50 in the 100 yard freestyle by the end of the first semester. This way, you set up smaller and more achievable goals that help lead you to your major one. You’ll keep building momentum.
Put them someplace physical
When I swam, I used to print posters on letter-size sheets of paper and tape them up places. These posters might have my goal times, a quote I found inspiring, or a reminder not to waver. I’d put them above my bed, on my bathroom mirror, and even in the kitchen. Reaching goals takes constant reminders; it’s too easy to slip up. Your brain doesn’t want to forget old habits. It’s quite happy being comfortable. Pushing yourself outside those limits means pushing yourself all the time, not just when you feel like it or when you remember.
Do something every day that makes your goal closer
If you want to go to medical school, you don’t get there by never opening your textbook. You don’t lower your 5k time by sitting on the couch. You can’t get more sleep if you keep going to bed at 1am. You don’t increase your max bench weight by never hitting the gym. The point is, do something every day. When tomorrow gets here and you look back on today, you don’t want to say “yeah I should’ve done that”. Every day brings an opportunity to start doing something now.
Tell someone about your goals
There’s nothing like having someone to push you. Not everyone can do this or is comfortable doing it, but never underestimate the power of having someone else along for the ride. When you tell someone else, you’re not just giving up in your own head anymore. It makes the goal real in the sense that if you give up, at least one other person will know. And if there’s one thing we all hate, it’s others knowing our failings. Don’t think of it as fear, though. It’s more like an extra push in the right direction when just yourself might not be enough to carry you.
Keep pushing for greatness!