How do you eat an elephant? In small chunks, of course! Joking aside, achieving big goals in life is much the same. It has to be handled in small parts. Here, we look at goal setting to achieve those big targets. Whilst it may appear that this article is aimed at those who desire success on the international stage, these principles can be applied to wanting to compete for your region and in fact, all aspects of your life.
Every January we start to think about our resolutions and goals for the year ahead. These are often trying to be healthier, losing few pounds, exercising and eating better and becoming a better version of ourselves. In sport, they could be representing a team or country.
We often fix on where we want to be – to look better, fit into summer clothes, to be at the European Championships. We do this, rather than focussing on the journey to meet our goals. Without working out the journey or working out what we need to do, we’re often left making excuses and quite often we don’t achieve the success/results we set.
We don’t look around and reach out to seek the right support to help us on our journey. This is because we don’t fully recognise the journey and what needs to be undertaken. The impact of not reaching out and getting the right support is that, maybe we are going in the wrong direction or even getting lost. A strong support system needs to be used to assist us in achieving those goals.
So, what are the strategies to reach out?
Find the right people that can help you grow as a person and as a fencer. You can’t travel the journey alone – you will need sparring partners. Not only on the piste but sometimes you should listen to what others have to say about your ideas and/or your development need. Talking through a big fight and your concerns with a teammate can lead to a breakthrough faster than mulling it over in your head. It takes trust and a focus for team competitions and developing trust in your teammate, who next week maybe your opponent. Working together with others can lead to greater achievements and it is also a lot more fun!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Always remember your network and know what your end goal is in that development phases because they might be the ones who will help you to get there. They might have a fresh perspective on different ways of reaching that goal but they might also be able to flag up meaningful opportunities that you can follow.
“If you’re not vocal about your goals, you’ll silently accept failure.”
Write it down
Writing it down makes it real. It makes the dreams tangible. The idea of goals and targets can seem far-off and intangible when they’re just floating around in your head.
Read Richie’s story
Richie McCaw (former New Zealand Rugby Union captain) talked about a significant conversation he had with his uncle.
It was held at McDonald’s in Timaru. McCaw had been selected for trials for the 1999 New Zealand under-19 squad and was showing his uncle the summer programme they had been given to keep fit.
Uncle Bigsy said, “Do you want to be an All Black?” McCaw answered in the affirmative, so a serviette was produced and the pair mapped out how he was going to achieve that goal.
While in his first year at Lincoln University studying Agricultural Science, McCaw wanted to make the New Zealand U19s and Canterbury U19s squads. The following year, he wanted to make the New Zealand Colts.
From there, he would make the Canterbury U21s team and following that, the Canterbury senior team.
They figured that after the 2003 World Cup a few players would head overseas and he would make the Crusaders and everything going to plan – making the All Blacks in 2004.
Uncle Bigsy didn’t stop there, making McCaw commit to being a Great All Black. McCaw couldn’t summon the courage to write it out in full, so he scribbled “G.A.B.” and then, under his uncle’s watchful eye, signed it and later pinned it to a cupboard back home in Kurow.
Given McCaw’s genius for openside flank play, the chances are he would have made it whatever the circumstances but Uncle Bigsy’s role should not be minimised. With McCaw’s signature, he had effectively signed his first contract, which owed everything to intrinsic motivation and nothing with monetary reward. McCaw first played for the All Blacks in 2001.
While committing your aspirations to paper may seem like a meaningless or insignificant step towards achieving them, doing so can be a symbolic motivator. Sharing your goals with family and friends may help to propel you forward in your journey.
We’re all in teams at home, social life, work, school and university, and whether we recognise it or not, our teams play a role in enabling us to do what we do. You could keep a record of your progress and then share these notes with your friends and colleagues?
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