Habits of Highly Effective Athletes: Know Where You Want To Go

by | Mar 27, 2018 | Mindset, Training

Welcome to another week of the Habits of Highly Effective Athletes series! This week, I wanted to talk about one of the things I think gets missed a ton by athletes who aren’t working with a coach. So this is most of us, right? Maybe you have a training plan, maybe you’re just kind of winging it with a vague goal in mind,

(Before we dive into this habit more, have you read about the first five?)

(You can find all of them on this page.)

OK, goal setting. It’s a little obvious. But it’s insanely important. I won’t spend a ton of time on this one because you’ve probably read all about it a million times. But I wanted to end this series talking about the necessity of having some kind of goal because it helps you figure out what to measure, how to cross-train, how to add skills to your training, and gives you a reason to eat and sleep well.

Have Close and Far-Off Goals

Every pro I know has a massive list of goals, ranging from far-off ones to weekly process goals. Every successful junior and master has this as well. It’s not just goals for the season, it’s goals for the next 10 years in sport. (They can get less specific as the time span until them whittles down, while the ones that are upcoming should be super specific.)

Set SMART Goals

Goals are great, but if you’re just writing a wish list, or you’re writing down stuff you would do anyway, that’s not going to do much. You want goals that will push you, but that you do believe are possible to achieve. We’ve had experts on the podcast to talk about this, so I’ll defer to them here, but remember when setting goals, make them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive. (Need more on setting SMART Goals? Check out our podcast with Simon Marshall and Leslie Patterson, the authors of The Brave Athlete. And read the book!)

Revisit Your Goals

You should be revisiting these on the regular. I know that for me, this is the tough part. I looooooove writing down a huge list of goals and making a few plans around them. But to actually go back and re-assess regularly, maybe tweak them a bit, that kind of thing? Rarely. (Confession: Sometimes I get in the mood to make a new goals list, make it, and then find an old one from a few months prior and realize I just re-did the damn thing. Which, I guess, is nice for showing consistency in what I want, but not as good as looking at the old list and making next steps based on it.)

Be Flexible

Sometimes, $hit happens outside of sport, or during training. Maybe you lost your job, or got a promotion. Maybe you sprained an ankle on a trail run. When stuff like that comes up, don’t be afraid to go back to the goal list and actually make some changes based on the new set of parameters that you’re working with.

Know What Works for You

There’s a ton of ‘accountability’ research out there about blasting goals on social media, but plenty of great counterpoints about keeping goals relatively private, maybe telling a couple of people—there’s been some research that’s suggested we get a huge boost from sharing our goals that maybe isn’t such a good thing, since it lets us get that boost without actually doing the work yet. I go with ‘do whatever feels right for you.’ I fall somewhere in the middle—a lot of goals and plans like book writing, I keep pretty private until it’s almost done. But something like Ironman, I put out there, partially because my training was obviously going to show up on my social media, and partially because with our podcast, we thought talking about the process made a lot of sense. But do what feels right for you, and keeps you accountable to yourself.

Have a Celebration Plan

When you meet your goal, what’s the plan? I know for me, this is an important step, since Peter and I both have a tendency to go ‘on to the next’ pretty much immediately. So after Ironman, we went to Fernie for a couple days to camp and hang out with friends. But I actually need to get better in this in other areas of my life, like celebrating getting a book deal as well as after hitting athlete goals. And little markers and rewards for those are great too, if you know you need that extra oomph to get you going. Just have it laid out beforehand, don’t casually decide to #treatyoself. The effect won’t be the same.


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