Over the last week of December each year, I set a new list of goals. Setting goals can be a tricky endeavor if not approached correctly. It’s very easy to set a goal because it sounds good, and it is what you want. But that goal can have so many variables that are out of your control that it ceases to be realistically obtainable. So lets talk about some key points with goal setting.
What do you want? : Firstly, you have to want to achieve the goal. I mean REALLY want to achieve the goal. If the goal has no real value to you other than lip service, your chances of achieving it are most likely pretty slim. Goals should be important to you, and you should want to achieve them.
Is it obtainable? : Has this goal been achieved by others? I’m by no means saying that you shouldn’t set a goal that makes you the first to accomplish something, but there is a direct correlation between knowing a goal is achievable and being able to achieve it. For years it was thought that man could not run a 4 minute mile. After Sir Roger Bannister finally achieved it, several others were able to break the 4 minute mark within the same year. KNOWING a goal is achievable is a huge step in achieving it. More on this later.
Can I control my achievement of the goal? : This is where we get into the ideas of outcome based goals vs. process based goals. Outcome based goals deal exclusively with a specific result. A process based goal is focused more on how you are achieving the goal rather than the result. For example, if I said “I want to make Grandmaster in USPSA.” That would be an outcome based goal. If on the other hand I were to say “I want to shoot no less than three days a week.” That would be a process based goal. There is a time and place for both types of goals, but I tend to gravitate towards process based goals. Again, we need to be able to control the outcome of your goal. Setting goals that are based on variables outside of your control can quickly lead to failure. For example: You set the outcome based goal of “I want to win the Western States Single Stack Championship (WSSSC).” Great, but we have some issues. While this goal may be achievable for you, there are variables outside of your control that can prevent you from being able to achieve it. Things like Rob Leatham (who has won it almost as many times as its been held) showing up and having the match of his life. Or maybe as you’re leaving you get hit by a huge snow storm and hit a buried rut and jack up the engine in your truck (true story). It’s hard to set outcome based goals for things like matches and them be anywhere within your control. I prefer to set process based goals that will aid in the achievement of what may be an outcome based goal. I.e. “I want to dry fire no less than four days a week for 30 minutes, live fire no less than three days a week, and shoot at least one local match a month in order to prepare for the best results at WSSSC.” Yep, its pretty wordy. It’s also process based, very specific, and almost totally under my control.
Goal setting can be tricky, especially if you don’t know where to start. Using what we’ve discussed above, you should be able to get started on setting some achievable goals. Later on, we’ll talk about long term and short term goals, daily goals, and how to make all your goals work with each other. Until then, good luck and stick with it!