Goals are really, really important if you are going to achieve what you set out to do, and having the bigger ones broken down into manageable steps is crucial to an athlete’s motivation, confidence and ability to progress. If you’re currently at ‘A’ and your destination is ‘Z’, how are you going to get there?

Having a dream which doesn’t have an end date or a deadline will eventually result in motivation dropping because it will always be there on the horizon and out of reach.

Having a deadline for a huge goal (it’s no longer just a dream if it has a deadline) can still affect motivation if you are so overwhelmed by the size of the goal that you just don’t know where to start… (tidying my office is one of those goals…).

So what’s really important about big goals is that they are broken down into smaller, more manageable steps. As you achieve each small step along the path to that big goal, you become more motivated. You can see the progress. You know you are actually getting somewhere and that you are closer to your big goal today than you were yesterday. And that’s exciting. It gives you confidence and brings the passion back.

Putting your mind to it

You need goals in all areas of your life if you are going to feel alive and excited and enthusiastic about everything you do. It’s what people mean when they say “if you really put your mind to it, you can do anything”.  Goals are about ‘putting your mind to it’.  You first decide what it is that you want and how far you want to go. Then you work out the route. What the steps are which are needed to get you there.

In sports, you need to be sure that your coach is on board with your goals. Your coach needs to have some input and sometimes give you that reality check. It may be that what you’re dreaming of will take a lot more work than you realise (but your coach will realise!).  It may be that you are actually capable of much more than you think.  And most importantly, you need to set goals right down to the present moment.

Map your route

So this weekend, spare some time to map out your route to where you want to get to – in 10 years’ time, 5 years’ time. By this time next year, by the end of the summer; this month, this week. Today. That car journey on the way to training is dead time you could be using to plan. What are you going to achieve in today’s session? What are you really close to achieving now? What can you do in this session which will bring you closer?

Keeping an eye on your goals, having a ‘living goals document’ which you can constantly change and develop and challenge yourself with, will not only get you closer to the end goal, it will also boost your confidence hugely.