How Top Athletes Uses Goals in Sports—A Lesson For All Of Us

A triathlete has a clear vision to swim 1+ miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13 miles as quickly as possible. They also have a way to turn that vision into reality.

About 16 weeks prior to competing, a triathlete usually develops a plan in order to achieve their physically demanding vision. That plan likely includes such things as daily workouts, healthier eating, and more sleep. This plan will help the triathlete be prepared come race day.

Goals should be an integral part of all plans. For example, a triathlete preparing for the big day will likely have a goal to swim for one hour, three times per week (or something like that).

I am continually amazed by how few people have and use goals. A recent study by Virginia Tech found 80% of Americans don’t have goals, yet those who regularly write down goals earn nine times as much over their lifetime. Regardless of where you are in life, goals can help you have a solid plan and excel at what you do. Here are a few tips to help you achieve your goals:

3 Tips For Setting Good Goals:

1. Determine whether or not the goal aligns with your vision.

2. Ensure the goal is SMART–Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Specific.

3. Share your goals with a friend or family member. Report back to that person on a specific date.

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 22 medals! He openly credits much of his success to his goals and ability to consistently work towards those goals.

One of his goals was to earn eight gold medals in each Olympics that he participated in. To achieve that goal, he developed a plan that included at least six days of intense training a week. Each day included anywhere from two to five hours of training. Regarding his training plan, Michael said, “If you don’t put the work in, you can’t really expect to get much out of it. I’m more than willing to put the work in so I’m swimming fast at the end of the year.”

So if you feel you could better harness the power of effective goals, remember that there is no better time to start than today.

By Rob Shallenberger

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