Setting goals for myself is very important because it is what keeps me determined and working hard. I think that blend of working hard and staying determined are really two very important ingredients that mix together for success. Having one without the other leaves us only half-full. It leads back to setting goals in the beginning. This, as I learned just last year when I switched swim teams and got a new inspirational coach, is why I believe in goal setting.
As a swimmer, I learned quickly that only half of the work and races is physical. No one can get through our intense three hour workouts unless we know exactly what we are working for. I joined a new swim team last year, where I met my new coach. The very first thing he did with the team was have us all fill out goal sheets. He wouldn’t even let us practice until we filled one out. He talked a lot about our goals. When we turned them into him he immediately posted them on the wall outside his office by the locker rooms. They became the first thing we saw everyday as we walked into practice. They also became the last thing we saw as we left; a reminder of why we will come back tomorrow, or why we just killed ourselves in that practice and why we should be tired and in pain. And again, if anyone tries to walk out on practice, there are those stupid words that we wrote on the wall, right there to guilt trip us to turning around and going back out to the pool.
It’s amazing that a few words (or numbers) can have such an impact on us and the way we think and perform. But just simple things like writing down our goals and seeing them everyday, whether it be at the pool, on our ceiling above our bed, or on our computer, keeps us determined to work hard. Our seasons are long, our practices are hard, and sometimes we have multiple things happening at once like different meets and school work. Goals help keep us in line. Almost everyone on the team keeps lists at home that they look at everyday because it helps keep them motivated. Practicing five hours a day is tough. Having meets and school work on top of that is tougher.
But no matter how much physical pain we are in, we know that the practices pay off in the meets. The sixty second races are what we practice twenty-plus hours a week for. Once we are at that meet, we know we will be able to do exactly what we came there for. At every single race, we are determined to reach our goals that we worked so hard for. And I believe that if we truly put everything we can into our workouts and we really put our minds to it, any goal is reachable.
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