What a year that was, huh? If you think back to a year ago, many of us were thinking about what we wanted to accomplish in the year 2020. We likely were encouraging our kids to set goals or to continue to work toward ones they had already set. The beginning of the year is a great time for goal setting as it’s a natural starting point.
But then—2020 happened. And we made adjustments and adapted, but some of the goals we set went to the wayside. That happens in any year, but in a pandemic year, goals can be very hard to reach.
Now though, we’re entering a new year, and while there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s important to remember we’re still going to need to be flexible in how we approach all areas of life, including goals.
When it comes to goal setting this year, one way to strengthen the possibility of reaching your goals is to have more knowledge about goals themselves and how to set them in a way that automatically makes them more achievable.
Short-term goals lead to long-term goals, and daily or weekly goals help move you forward. The time-frame you use will be different for each goal, for example, for an 8th grader, golfing in college is their long-term goal; for your high schooler, being in the top six players this season is their long-term goal. Once a long-term goal is created, then create the short-term and daily goals that get you where you want to go. Short-term goals are in any shorter time-frame and can help lead to your long-term goals and daily goals are yep, you guessed it—what you want to accomplish today that helps you move forward.
Outcome goals are goals about the outcome: How you do on the test, where you place in the tournament, and how you get rated on your annual review are all outcomes. Setting outcome goals can be motivating but there is one drawback: You don’t have complete control over the outcome. What you do have control over is the work you put in and how you perform, so performance goals are often a stronger type of goal to set (or make sure you and your kids set them in addition to the outcome goals). These types of goals may include improving your putting percentage, improving your ability to relax your grip, or being more confident in a public speaking scenario. We generally have full control when it comes to performance goals so these are the stronger kind of goals to set.
Specific (Be clear about what you’re working on); Measurable (Know when you will have obtained the goal); Adjustable (Goals can be adjusted- remember that. Sometimes we need to adjust the time-frame, the goal itself–sometimes it’s too easy, or how we get there; Realistic (Give yourself a challenge but one you know you can reach with hard work. Goals that are too hard or too easy are likely to be given up on). Timed (You need to know when you want to reach this goal, otherwise you decrease the chance of reaching that goal).
Once your kids have set their goals, talk together about how they’ll reach them. Do they need to study more? Study differently? Do they need to get to the course more often? Have them consider what could get in their way: Weather, COVID restrictions, lack of time? Once you’ve figured out potential road blocks, then you and your athletes can proactively plan how to work with those if they come up.
One of the main challenges with goals is that we may set them and forget them. Help your golfer come up with ways to hold themselves accountable (such as creating visual reminders or posters that remind them of their goal), work with others for accountability (maybe they can partner with a teammate for check-ins), and discuss how and when they’ll follow up on their progress. This step is important to help see if you’re on track to meet the goal and if not, what adjustments can you make to help you.
No matter what the age of your golfer, and no matter whether the goal is for sport, school, or life, it’s always best if your child is empowered: allow them to pick the goal, let them plan how to get there, and have them come up with the ways you can best support them. Younger athletes will need more support and older athletes are able to learn good life lessons by taking the goal setting on (mostly) by themselves.
Setting your own goals, and going through this process alongside them can be a great way to model how to set goals, how to handle the challenges that will come along, and how you can support others in their goal-setting efforts.
Sometimes when parents, teachers, or coaches mention goals, you might want to stop listening. Maybe goals have been boring, felt frustrating, or you tend to forget about them. Maybe the idea of goals stresses you out. If that’s the case, replace the word “goals” with “missions,”“dreams,” or “plans.”
Additionally, if you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing what you work on, you’re more likely to be motivated to make it happen. So, if you’re in a situation where you’re given your goals (or missions!), consider how you can make them your own. Can you come up with the strategies to get you there? Create performance goals to support what you’re being asked to do? Come up with a really fun way to track your progress?
Being able to understand how to set goals in a way that allows you the best chance of reaching them is great for golf, school, and life, so take some time to apply the above ideas, remembering that goals are not set in stone. You can make adjustments and even if you don’t reach a goal, that’s okay—set another, and keep going.