Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Intrinsic Value Attached to a Goal

We've all had some experience with goal setting. And I believe it is still an overlooked and often very misunderstood tool. As a coach we see the few kids that do everything we tell them, no questions asked and they achieve great results and we focus on them and think to ourselves, why can't more of the kids be like Billy or Jane?

After doing some reading and reflection, I believe that in general, people don't weight enough importance to their goal. Think about it this way..even though someone knows that training will make them fitter and they would really like to be fitter and a better squash player, they aren't going to stick to the program unless they're desire to improve outweighs their current comfort (and lack of pain) level for not training hard. The negative association to exerting themselves at such a high and uncomfortable level is difficult for some people to comprehend and hence make it a habit. People often say, it's too hard, they can't do this or that, they don't enjoy doing sprints or the beep test. We think of ultramarathon runners as crazy and a rare breed. But they are no different then the rest of us. So how did this happen? Could it be you running 100 miles through the bush? I believe it's because they are unable to rest without knowing what they are truly capable of. They can't sleep at night or sit still if they know they didn't give it their all and push themselves to the extreme.

Here's from a different point of view..from a diet perspective. What point in a life does someone reach where they are unhappy with their body? What about to the point that unhappy turns into repulsive and completely disgusted? What is the exact sign..a certain body weight? Clothes aren't fitting? A comment from someone? A doctor? No matter what the sign is, here is my point. If that person highly values and links a lot of pleasure to being in decent/good/great shape, compared to the pleasure they get from eating unhealthy and not working out..then this person will likely stick to their goal and lose that extra weight. Those that have tried many diets and keeps failing are different. They link a lot of pain to the effort required to lose the weight. People like this will inevitably try every diet in the book and continually fail...until they find something that really hits home hard. Maybe it's a serious health issue, their partner leaves them, they have a baby..or maybe it will never happen because they get so much pleasure from being lazy and eating poorly. How do we link enough pain to being unhealthy and more pleasure to exercising and eating healthy?

So what does this have to do with squash?

We teach squash players to set goals and how to set effective goals? Sometimes we even help people set their goals? And they might truly intend on working hard to achieve that goal. But often they don't. Do we blame this on the goal being too difficult? Or does someone get sick, injured, or maybe they think they need more matter the excuse or explanation, one thing is important. How does that person intrinsically value that goal? Are they willing to make sacrifices to achieve something that will bring them great pleasure? Is it possible that the hard work becomes pleasurable to this person because they understand they are working towards a larger/long term goal? If they set challenging, yet attainable goals, they should be able to achieve them more often than not. So my interest is in finding a way to increase the pure motivation and drive of each individual. To find a way to let that person see that they can take control of their destiny by finding leverage for them to commit and achieve their goals. Like I said, we might have the best intentions, but what we really need is to attach such meaning (pleasure) to our goals that not achieving them or at least giving up on our goals is painful...and so we keep persisting and never give up!

Think about what you really want and what's preventing you from getting it? How much pain do you associate to making the changes necessary to get what you really want? If there wasn't a sacrifice involved (pain) you would already be getting the results you want. Maybe if you can get a taste of the results it will help you stop procrastinating and living in the present with the intention of setting yourself up for a better tomorrow.

Our lives are what we make of them. What do you want to change? And how can you create leverage to change the negative thoughts you currently attribute to working towards your goals.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Have you stopped improving? I can help

Before I get to my topic, I'd like to start by saying once again that I had intended this blog as not just a personal tool but also for the Moncton Squash Club. And as I mentioned I decided to continue with my blog even though I left the club last spring. So I am going to start updating this on a regular basis. If you want to find out more or have a point I haven't considered I would love to hear it. Feedback is always welcomed!

Alright...maximizing learning and practice. What are your strength and weaknesses?

I'm reading a Tony Robbins book at the moment and he got me asking myself some questions. I feel that a lot of this can be applied to improving how we practice and getting better. The main idea is that we get stuck in limiting patterns. When I practice my squash game, even when I'm working on a weakness, I am practicing the same ways over and over. You have a problem with this, do that. After a certain point it's only natural to lose out focus and we will not be able to do it any more effectively (and this means I will stop improving or at a very slow rate).

So my revelation is to completely change how I'm practicing. Say for example that I want to work on my footwork. After how many times of doing the same footwork drills am I going to max out and have no more room for improvement? Yes they can still maintain or improve my fitness, but I believe there is a better way(S)! making it more challenging.

What if we change where the 'T' is and where we go back to after each shot? What if we randomize the time we're working? Or what if you have to balance something on your head or your racquet while your moving around the court? My theory is that this breaks us from out regular comfort zone and it challenges us to do something we aren't able too. And if there is an area of weakness in my footwork that the normal routine hasn't solved yet, try something different.

An added benefit is of course psychologically, I am more likely to be consumed with the challenge of the new court movement because it isn't the same old thing. And this philosophy can be done for anything...after years I have a developed a similar solo might not be set in stone, but the minor variations are minimal. So the last time I went out to hit some balls I didn't hit a single ball from the back of the court or on the bounce. I didn't do any drill for more than a minute or two at a time and I was able to find numerous ways to challenge myself and find things I was not able to do. Usually we try and avoid the things we can't I found the dirtiest spot on the wall and did some vollies. It was difficult to see and I struggles at the beginning..but it got better, but still has room for improvement. Then I picked out 2 spots close to one another on the wall and aimed for one and then the next and tried to focus on hitting them on each shot. Was I able too? Sometimes, but not often enough. And when I get better at it, I would step back or hit it faster.

So my challenge to you is to find what challenges you? What needs improvement? What do you usually do? What can you try differently? What patterns have you got stuck in? How can you break the bad ones and make them more positive?

Thoughts? Opinions? Confused? Understand? Interested? Let me know what you think.