Spring is here. Time to blow the dust off your skis and hit the lake. It’s also time to do some serious thinking about what you want to accomplish this tournament season. It doesn’t matter whether you’ll be checking out the slalom course for the first time or trying to win Nationals; to be successful, you need a plan. A plan means setting goals.
What do you hope to accomplish this season? Next season? Five years from now?
These are all long-term, or dream, goals. That inspiring “brass ring” we’re all reaching for. Dream goals are tricky things. They need to be difficult enough to challenge you, yet realistic and attainable. Someone just beginning in the slalom course in May can’t realistically expect to qualify for Nationals by the end of July. They also need to be very specific and understandable. This means points, buoy count or feet, and dates. Last, and most important, goals should be performance-oriented, not outcome-oriented. In other words, what you do as opposed to what results from you doing something.
Suppose what you really want to accomplish this year is to qualify for Nationals in slalom in the Men 1 division. Although this is an inspiring goal, and for the sake of the argument let’s say it is also a realistic one, it is neither specific nor performance-oriented. Let’s clean it up a little. First, the orientation. Qualifying for Nationals is an outcome goal. It is the result of your getting your EPs or placing at Regionals. Simplify. Make your goal to run your EP in a record tournament. Your new performance goal would be to run three buoys at 35 off in a record tournament. Now let’s make your goal a little more specific.
When do you want to qualify? Going to Nationals usually requires travel plans, plane tickets, hotel, car rental, etc., and these need to be made at least a few weeks in advance. Let’s say you checked the Regional Guidebook and found a record tournament in your area on the weekend of July 18-19. You now have a date. Your season dream goal now reads something like this: I will run three at 35 off at the record tournament on July 18-19. Very simple, very concrete, and easily understood.
Now that we have our dream goal for the season, how do we go about attaining it? Since our dream goal is the fruition of all our efforts over the course of the season, it helps to have a strategy for getting the most out of each practice and tournament. The more organized we are, the easier it will be to get from where we are now to where we want to be. The most effective strategy is to set short-term goals that build upon each other and lead up to our dream goal. What’s your dream?