Having goals in the water is important. They keep you focused during those long workouts. They help get you out of bed on those early mornings. And yet, so many swimmers struggle with them.
Here are three ways to set yourself up for goal-setting success:
1. Write out what you want to achieve.
You might be tempted to skip over this step, because, well, you already know what you want to achieve, am I right?
But writing it out (with a pen and paper, we’re going old school here, folks) is critical.
Don’t pop open a new Word file. Or text it to yourself. Or post it on Facebook.
Write out your goal on an actual piece of paper. And the reasons why you want to achieve it.
Why is this so important?
Typing, whether on your phone or on a computer keyboard, has a way of separating ourselves from the content. Going old-school and physically writing out more fully engages and lights up our brain, making the connection deeper.
Having your goal and the reasons you want to achieve it on paper also makes it real, and pulls it out of the lofty ambitions that are continuously floating around the noodle between our ears.
When you can see your goal on paper, it pulls it out of the clouds and down into the here-and-now.
Take a couple moments to write out your goal and why it’s so important to you.
2. Go as small as you need to in order to stay on track.
I cannot over-emphasize this point enough…
And if you have read my column here more than a couple times, you have probably heard me preach it about 43.5 times…
If you’re struggling to stay on track, start over and start smaller.
Start as small as you need to in order to make things stick.
I get why we are naturally averse to doing things in small steps.
Small steps don’t feel significant enough. They don’t feel like they are creating enough change for us in the time we want.
But don’t be fooled. Small steps might seem inconsequential, but added up, over time?
3. Get self-aware.
The more you understand yourself, the more you understand the best way you perform, and the more you understand what works in your particular case, the more likely you’ll finally be able to make the changes and improvements you so badly want.
While improving your self-awareness won’t solve everything, it’s a massive and absolutely essential first step.
Start by tracking your performance in the pool.
It’s not too late to get your goals back on track.
That doesn’t mean you should wait for tomorrow, though.
Start today, and let tomorrow be day two.
Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer and contributor to USA Swimming.
He’s the author of Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High-Performance Mindset, a 300-page workbook that gives swimmers the tools and knowledge necessary to bulletproof their performances in the pool.
He also writes a weekly mental training tips newsletter for swimmers and coaches that you can subscribe to for free here.