At the beginning of a new year, everyone rushes to sign up for new gym memberships or sets a lot of goals to accomplish for the year, but all too often we start to lose steam and get off track of what we originally set out to accomplish.
Here are some ways to stay focused and on track this year as you look to check off those big items on your goal list!
Step #1: Focus on Fewer Goals
Any goal takes effort – and tackling more than two or three at a time is beyond most of us. Rather than trying to change everything overnight, focus on just a couple of key goals. Ideally, you’ll want to choose goals that complement one another.
For instance, if you’re aiming to get recruited for your sport, you might have a secondary goal of scoring more points in a game – the two goals work in tandem.
Step #2: Plan Ahead
One reason why goals get derailed is because we fail to plan ahead. It’s all too easy to use a string of social or big events as an excuse to give up on the goal.
Take a look at your schedule over the next month or so. Do you have anything coming up that’s likely to cause problems for one of your goals? If you know you’re going to be away for a tournament, for instance, you might plan to do some extra school work on the weekend leading up to the trip instead. If your friend’s going to throw a big birthday party, you may want to be extra careful with your diet in the days immediately before and after so you’re properly fueled for the tournament.
Step #3: Set Milestones
Your goal might seem a very long way off right now. If you’re aiming to get a college scholarship, become your team MVP, or set a personal record that also happens to be a state record, you might be looking at months or years of work. At times, it’ll feel as though your progress is slow.
Instead of focusing solely on the end goal, give yourself some milestones along the way. Celebrate every time that a college letter gets mailed to you or when you shave off a few seconds from your last best time. Give yourself a deadline to aim for with each milestone – and make it ambitious, but not unrealistic.
Step #4: Build Good Habits
Much of what we do in life is habitual. You probably don’t need to constantly remind yourself to shower or brush your teeth or eat lunch – it’s just a normal part of your day. When it comes to your goals though, it might be a constant struggle to find the time or energy for them.
By developing good habits that support your goals, you’ll find it much easier to make progress. For instance, if you struggle to find the time to watch game film or get in extra reps of shooting free throws, try looking for a way to fit in into your day – perhaps by arranging your ride after practice to leave 15 minutes later than usual so you can have extra time to get more free throws in or waking up 15 minutes earlier every Wednesday to watch Tuesday night’s game video in the morning before going to school.
Step #5: Track Your Progress
When you’ve been working on the same goal for a long time, it might feel as if you’re not making much progress. If you look back to where you were a few months ago though, you’ll often find that you’ve come a surprisingly long way.
Tracking your progress could mean keeping a journal, writing a list of key achievements each month, or recording particular statistics (like your individual statistics in practices or games). It doesn’t matter exactly how you go about tracking things – what matters is that you have some way to easily see what you’ve already achieved.
Step #6: Get Support and Encouragement
It’s much easier to stay motivated when you have positive, supportive people around you. Hopefully, you’ve got friends, family, or teammates who can encourage you towards your goal – but it might be the case that these people don’t understand why this is so important to you.
Look for a group that shares your goal: perhaps someone on a different team or sport than yours, a mentor or teacher, or even a friend that you may have met at a camp that lives in a different area than you. This should provide you with the opportunity to have like-minded people in your circle who can share your enthusiasm, and offer you advice, support, and encouragement.