I know goal setting is a big thing right now, being that it’s early January, so I thought I would share my experiences with it. Every year I would make resolutions, but just recently I started setting goals in volleyball. However, my resolutions would eventually fall off and I got to the point where setting goals caused me more anxiety that they were worth. Thoughts akin to “It means I didn’t work hard enough if I don’t (accomplish this or that goal), or I’m not as good as I need to be if we don’t win” right down to the straight up, “I’m not worthy/deserving of my own support/love if I fail to achieve my goals.” A lot of this is not even thought consciously, but when you sit down and dissect it, you will probably find that if you don’t set goals the right way, this could be how you’re subconsciously treating yourself.
I recently coached a USA Volleyball High Performance Camp down in Chula Vista, I do it every year because it’s so much fun, and I always learn a little something from the kids or the amazing coaches that attend, but this year a pretty bright light bulb was switched on at one of the “class room” sessions. We talked about goal setting, and I don’t know if I never paid close enough attention in the past, but I did not know this was how to set goals until I heard that lesson. My goals have all been outcome related. I.e. I want to win this or that tournament, I want to be at this body weight before season, I want us to hold the number one ranking, etc. Cue anxiety, unhealthy habits, and if it didn’t work out some self reprimanding.
It’s kinda funny because I would always look back at my life and find it a little weird (and feel weird saying it in interviews!) that it was never a goal of mine growing up to make the Olympics, or to win National Championships at USC, or to go undefeated my senior club season, I just didn’t really set goals growing up… but yet I’ve accomplished some pretty cool things. And after this lesson I learned at the HP Camp I started to understand why.
One of the things I am most grateful for in life is the work ethic my parents and coaches I had growing up instilled in me. Every day, to this day, my intention is to do and give my absolute best, to not make excuses, but accept challenges as opportunity… and guess what? Those are actually how you’re supposed to set goals! Goals should not be outcome dependent, but process dependent. This means you should be setting goals that will encourage you to get better day by day, little markers you can measure daily to make sure you’re going in the right direction. Even as little as “Did I give my best today?” You can still want to achieve some hefty things, but accomplishment is not the goal. Doing the best you can to be the best you can be IS the goal, regardless of outcome. And if you do your best it will foster a sense of achievement, confidence, and self-love, which REALLY is the point of playing sports, and to be honest, everything else.
This doesn’t detract from being competitive and wanting to win- that will always be there- but I believe these goals will help me with what I want to achieve in a much healthier and effective way. The key to this (as with everything), though, is self-discipline and keeping yourself accountable on the daily, which is why it’s good to write them down (I’m a big fan of journaling!) and revisit them often. I just read an article about how the Stanford volleyball players write in their journal what they want to work on before each practice, and I think that would be a great habit to adopt. Journaling your food is also a well known and effective way to keep your diet (as in healthy lifestyle, not cutting calories) on point.
I’m so glad this clicked for me because I understand why setting goals is important. Now I know I was just doing it in an unproductive way- you live, you learn, and you grow!
Some of my goals for 2015:
Keep sugar out of my diet
Take my vitamins on the road
Journal before practice
Substitute green tea for my afternoon coffee a few times a week
Speak to myself in a supportive way even after making mistakes
If you need help with yours, here’s a list of “resolutions” I really like: http://bit.ly/1seCkct
I hope this helps some of you who might have been setting goals the wrong way as well, wishing you a happy 2015!
All photos by Eric Vallely.