Athletes are no strangers to goal setting, whether learning a new skill, winning a competition, or achieving a personal record, athletes are built to strive. As a new school year approaches and your athletic training hits the reset button, I wanted to offer a unique goal-setting process that can help harness your focus in your pursuit of goals both large and small.

This goal setting journey requires answering four questions.

1) What is your IT? Not surprisingly, the IT is the goal that you desire. ITs are unique to each individual. It can be a personal, athletic, academic, social, ANYTHING. We may have multiple ITs but we have to keep in mind that is difficult to give 100% to every IT, and that the more ITs we have, the more our energy gets spread out and drained.

Example: “I want to pass my fitness test.”

2) Why do you want IT? In order to get where you want to go you need emotional fuel. Connecting with the WHY taps into your inner motivational resources. By connecting with your motivation, you are frequently fueled to continue pursuing your IT. When you become tired, stressed, or frustrated during your pursuit of a goal, remind yourself of the WHY to re-energize and continue your relentless journey.

Example: “I want to pass my fitness test because I know I can push my body to do it and I know it’s critical to my role on the team.”

3) Who do you need to be to accomplish IT? Here it is important to identify the values, strengths, skills, knowledge-bases, resources, etc. needed to accomplish the goal. Do you need to build stamina, work on becoming more patient, or develop an expertise in finance? Whatever your IT is, you need to decide on, and then become, the type of person you need to be to achieve it.

Example: “I need to become mentally tough to run through discomfort and fatigue. I also need to manage my time well to fit in workouts.”

4) How will you achieve IT? Finally, you have to identify the steps required to make IT happen. Here is when your mini-S.M.A.R.T. goals come into play. By identifying the baby-steps required to achieve your larger IT, you create a road map or blueprint to follow. Of course, the implementation is the hardest part, but the more detailed your steps are, the easier the plan is to follow.

Example: “In order to pass my fitness test I need to a) build stamina by attending workouts, b) progressively increase my workout load each week, c) treat my body well (nutrition, stretching, sleep, substances), d) practice positive self-talk and deep breathing.“

Obviously, the above example is a simplified version of the simplified process. In addition, the larger the goal, the more involved this process will be. But, by deliberately answering these questions you will be able to focus your mental, physical, and emotional energies to increase the likelihood of pursuing and achieving your goals. Make IT happen!

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