GOALS

We all have goals, whether we realize it or not. Some simply act to avoid pain. Others move towards pleasure. A select few systematically set and use their goals to navigate themselves towards exactly what they want in life. Well-stated, monitored, and adjusted goals will help direct attention appropriately, provoke physical action on this focus, improve time management skills, and increase persistence. These goal directed behaviors are not always normal, so if where you’re headed isn’t normal or average either, actually writing down well-formed goals will help you achieve the EXTRAordinary.

 

Short-term (under a year) goals should have six characteristics. They should be SMART and controllable. That is, they should be [S]pecific, [M]easureable, [A]ttractive, [R]ealistic, [T]imed, and Controllable.  It will not, in and of itself, help me to say that I want to be great. I need to define greatness specifically, in controllable and measurable terms. Then I must choose a level that is both attractive and realistic, and a date by which I will reach this level. For example, a softball hitter may commit to having quality at-bats two-thirds of the time by April 1– where a quality at-bat is one where she sees each pitch well, makes all good decisions about whether or not to swing, and then either gets a base hit, advances a runner (when trying more to advance the runner than get a base hit), or hit the ball very hard.

 

Short-term goals must be monitored and adjusted. This is what separates the goal setting process from setting New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are usually set on January 1 and forgotten about by January 15. Adjusting goals so that they remain both attractive and realistic is critical to maintain motivation and prevent frustration. This monitoring process will also keep goals relevant and help increase awareness of what controllable factors (behaviors) are working and should be repeated, and which are not and should be changed. Key point: goal setting is an ongoing process, not a one-time thing.
Formal daily and/or weekly goal setting as described has been consistently shown to increase the quality of a person’s behavior and outcomes. This is true across the board, plus this process is particularly powerful for people who have or had Attention Deficit Disorder. Despite this, following this procedure is rare. If you decide to invest the time into goal setting and commit to your goals (rather than just being interested in them), give yourself a pat on the back. If you want some forms to make this monitoring process easier, email Coach Traub at aaron@CoachTraub.com and he’ll send them to you – free (or buy his book – it’s in there).

 

Aaron Weintraub has been coaching athletes for 19 years, 13 of which he spent as a college baseball coach. He is a disciple of the late, great Harvey Dorfman, who wrote The Mental Game of Baseball and other books.

 

Weintraub published his own book, Coaches Guide to Winning the Mental Game, in 2009 and added An Elite Athlete’s Manual for Training Mental Skills in 2011.

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Attitude is Everything

What we think directly affects how we feel, which directly affects what we do. Said another way: attitude determines our altitude, and it comes from how we think, whether we realize this or not. Wait…does this mean that athletes who are confident and having fun play better than those who are frustrated and timid? Absolutely! So which comes first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t know. But which comes first: successful outcomes or a positive, confident, fun attitude? For many, success does, but for the greatest athletes in the world, the ideal attitude for performance comes first.

 

Attitude is a function of what we think about/focus on. Most people’s attitude goes with the flow, thinking about/focusing on current events, current needs, current fears, current desires, etc. That can be good, but can just as easily be bad if the current is, for example, the Niagara River. It might not even seem dangerous at the moment, but it could be heading towards a great fall! My reminder to athletes: you have extremely little control over what goes on around you, but total control of how you choose to respond to it. It is in these choices that lay your freedom, your growth, your happiness, and your personal power. Choose wisely.

Many people have a less-than-ideal attitude about “failure.” Instead of viewing it as a needed stepping stone for success, they see it as an end in itself — a bad one. If they would remember the wonderful goal of approaching their potential, it would be easy to think like a scientist pursuing the question, “How good can I be?” Always remember that we learn and grow from adversity.

 

Concrete examples:

 

• A mistake by self (or someone else) often leads to negative emotions, which can cause the problem to snowball by creating a poor approach/attitude on the next play.

 

• An athlete or his teammate makes an error and he tries to “make up for it” by trying harder on the next play. Was he not trying hard before? Trying to do too much (pressing) is not the way to win the mental game.

 

• An official blows the call, but it’s just one call. It is almost always the athlete’s response to this that blows the game.

 

• A losing player is so mad that he forgets to learn from the experience.

 

• A winning player is so pleased that he forgets to learn from the experience.

 

• Poor self-talk words such as “gotta” “impossible” and “don’t screw up” lead to a less-than-ideal performance attitude. These words could be replaced with “opportunity” “challenge” and “excited” to create a winning attitude.

 

Suggestion: relentless positivism, emphasizing whatever helps and de-emphasizing whatever doesn’t. Don’t underestimate the “glass half full” attitude’s impact on performance! Mental skills improve with practice just like physical skills do, so don’t wait until game day to practice the skill of having a positive attitude. Consistently bring positive energy, respect, and appreciation to practice. Hold yourself accountable for your attitude and body language, even during conditioning or after making a mistake. If you receive constructive criticism, be grateful, not resentful. Use your brain to overcome your fearful emotions. After all, would you prefer that the coach ignores your mistake, signifying that she’s giving up on your potential?

 

Your perspective on things determines your attitude. Appreciate your opportunities; they are significant. Compare our chances for happiness, satisfaction, and service to others to what they would be if we had been born in a different place or time. Statistically speaking, you and I did better than winning the lottery when we were born.

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