The Coach As GPS: Step by Step Directions to Goal Setting

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There is always a huge gap between the birth of a dream and the achievement of that dream.
–Put Your Dream To The Test

Every team starts out the year with high goals…things they’d like to have accomplished by season’s end.  What every team does not have is the desire, tenacity, and motivation to keep pursuing the goal when (cliché alert!) the going gets tough.  Let’s discuss how to keep our teams and our athletes on track in this third of a three-part series (click here to read parts one and two) while examining the last five questions from the book, Put Your Dream To The Test by John Maxwell.  I believe that guiding them through this goal setting process can help them to accomplish individual and team goals put them on the path to having a successful season.

The People Question:  Have I Included the People I Need to Realize My Dream?
“Convincing others of the significance of your dream can happen only if you are convinced of the significance of your dream.”  This question is for people who need to build a team around them in order to be successful, but our athletes come with a ready-made team!  Now all you’ve got to do is remind them that the goal can only be accomplished through daily work.  Everyone’s fired up at the beginning of the season, but what about when you’ve suffered a heartbreaking loss, or midterms are kicking their butts, or it’s just harder than they thought?  That’s when we can remind them that they’re not alone and that they’re in it together.

The Cost Question:  Am I Willing to Pay the Price for My Dream?
“All dreams are outside our comfort zone.  Leaving that zone is a price we must pay to achieve them.”  What’s the price, you ask?  Criticism: what if one of your players thinks that she can be in the WNBA and has decided to make that one of her goals?  When she tells people, they may try to dissuade her from pursuing that goal…not to be mean or negative, but in protecting her feelings.  Fear: using our same example, that’s a big out-of-her-comfort-zone goal…and it’s scary.  If she’s not willing to work through being afraid that she’s bitten off more than she can chew, then she should get a smaller goal.  Hard work: athletics is hard work on its own.  Adding a big, huge goal heaps a whole lot more work to their plate…are they willing to pay that price?

The Tenacity Question:  Am I Moving Closer to My Dream?
“The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.”  Your athletes have to be finishers, not just starters.  It’s really that simple.  As Dory from Finding Nemo says, “just keep swimming.”  Don’t quit, don’t give up.  As long as they keep putting in work everyday, their goals are getting closer and more real.

The Fulfillment Question:  Does Working Toward My Dream Bring Satisfaction?
“If you want the pursuit of your dream to be sustainable, it needs to bring you satisfaction.”  Maxwell says that there’s a gap between stating the goal and achieving the goal…and it only gets bigger with a larger goal.  If your athletes appreciate the process of working toward a goal, they will discover how tough they are.  And that toughness will serve them well and keep them from wavering.

The Significance Question:  Does My Dream Benefit Others?
“Start doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly, you are doing the impossible.” I think the answer to this question is two-fold.  For the individual, the team will benefit from their goals.  For the team, future teams will benefit from the current team’s goals.  And I just love this quotation!  If our athletes and teams just do what is necessary…at least they’re working toward the goal.  What is necessary?  Coming to practice and working hard, supporting their teammates, and giving their all in each and every drill at each and every practice.  And if they do what is possible, then they’ll challenge themselves…because how do they know what they’re capable of or what is possible for them if they don’t try new things?  If they do what is possible everyday, all of a sudden those things that they thought were impossible are possible.  And they just keep pushing the envelope and keep getting better and those goals are getting closer and closer.

That’s the end of our goal setting series and I hope you found at least one thing that you can put into action with your team right away.  Every team and every person will have different goals, but we coaches can have one plan to guide them along that goal setting process.