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 time..no 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.

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