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Goal Setting For the Dreaming Season

BY Carrie Barrett

The process of setting a goal starts with being in the right frame of mind. Author Carrie Barrett sets out four steps you can take to start your Dreaming Season right.

What do you want to accomplish in 2015? I mean, what do you really want to accomplish? Some of you may want to win a local marathon and others may want to complete your first triathlon. There are many accomplished athletes who want to qualify for Boston or Kona. For as many athletes there are out there, there are just as many goals and dreams being outlined during this time known as “The Dreaming Season”.

It sure sounds simple enough, right? Pick a goal, dream big, and it will magically happen. If only achieving goals were as easy as daydreaming, we’d all be successful, lean, Olympic gold medalists, right?

Believe Before You Achieve

You see, goal setting starts with your mindset. You must believe in your goal long before you achieve it. If you are setting a new goal, it’s more than likely a target you’ve never reached before like a new pace or a longer race distance. Although that goal may seem a little out of your reach at the moment since your body doesn’t know exactly what it looks or feels like, a confident mindset is your first stepping stone to success. It’s the first of many process goals and stepping stones to get you to your outcome goal. Unwavering belief propels you through the toughest of times during the inevitable difficult days of training.

In my recent book, Headspace for the Perfect Race: Create a Winning Athlete Mindset, I discuss the importance your mindset and specific goal setting has on your success long before race day. “A goal can only be achieved successfully if you, first, choose the right one and, second, be as concise as you can about how you want to achieve it. Even the best Olympians are trained to set goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound.”

Choose the Right Goal

How do you even know if you’re selecting the right goal? Ironically, one of the major obstacles in reaching a goal isn’t lack of ability. It’s lack of long-term enthusiasm, belief, and passion for your goal. I write, “When you set a goal, make sure it’s something that you are thoroughly passionate about achieving, something you are willing to sacrifice time and money to make come true. I’m often surprised when people register for events or sign up for races they don’t really want to do. Maybe they were persuaded by friends or co-workers. Maybe they felt like it was the right thing to do for a charitable cause or to advance their status. If you’re half-hearted about your goal, your path to success will be a rough one paved with lots of excuses. If you felt pressured or coerced into setting a goal or signing up for an event for any reason other than your own, then the goal probably wasn’t something you were passionate about in the first place.”

And you know what? That’s OK, but understand that race day success is directly correlated to your passion and belief. That’s why this is a great time to start writing down the things that you want to accomplish. But, in addition to identifying “the big goals,” you must also create your road map to success. Outcome goals are the most common and easiest to define and verbalize as they center on the end result. For example, “I want to qualify for the 2016 World Championships in Kona, and I need to finish below nine hours to make that happen.” This is a very concise outcome goal. Now, you have to start mapping out those process goals that will help get you there.

Outline Process Goals

Process goals are the stepping stones, the rungs in the ladder you’ll need to climb in order to reach the big goal. These are vital as they build confidence in reaching the outcome goal. If you want to average 23mph on your bike split, then you must practice intervals at race pace (or even above it). That is one process goal. Other process goals may include, hiring the right coach, dropping some weight, and purchasing the proper equipment. Achieving these smaller process goals fuels and enhances your belief and confidence for a successful outcome.

Below are action steps adapted from Headspace for the Perfect Race: Create a Winning Athlete Mindset:

  • Write down at least one major outcome goal for your dreaming season. (Example: I want to run a sub 4:00 marathon in March 2015).
  • Now, outline several process goals that will assist in that intended outcome. (Examples: I will join a running group and I will purchase a GPS watch to track pacing).
  • Finally, write down reasons why this goal is important to YOU. Know your reasons why because you’ll come back to them often.

Best of luck with your goal setting and, remember, you must believe before you can achieve!

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About Carrie Barrett

Carrie Barrett is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of Headspace for the Perfect Race‘and has been published on Ironman.com, Lavamagazine.com, Livestrong.com, and TrainingPeaks.com. For more information on her coaching, speaking and writing, visit fomotraining.com and follow her on Twitter: @fomocoach.