AT THE END OF THE SEASON is the time to begin getting serious and thinking about what you want to accomplish NEXT year. I have stated more than once that my one goal for each of you is to do your best to reach your true potential. But what is YOUR best? What is YOUR true potential? That, of course, is a difficult question. There are many variables that determine how “good” you can be, but knowing what you want provides some necessary direction so that you can push yourself in and out of practice and answer the all-important question of why you are doing it! As you begin to develop your plan, keep the following things in mind:
- What is your target? Your target (like a dart board) is what you are aiming at. This should be in the form of a time, score, or place that you may or may not hit. But it MUST be motivational to you. When picking this target you should shoot for a level that is “unreasonably high”.
- What does it mean to be “unreasonably high”? “The depths of your potential as a swimmer or diver are vast. You are capable of things that are significantly above that which you are currently performing. But how much above? Well, that is where well-placed dreams come in. You need to set targets so high that they are “unreasonable”, in that you are not at all sure you can do it, but you ARE sure that you would LOVE TO DO IT. Targets cannot be ridiculous (too high), nor can they be achievable with 100% certainty (too low). If they are too high, they will not be motivational. If they are too low you will accomplish them in our first meet of the season and have nowhere to go. Above anything else a well-set target ought to push you though a tough set in an extra tough practice. It should be a reason to smile when you are in pain. It should be the reason you “GET” to do this, not a reason you “HAVE” to…”
- You must set good goals to achieve a good target. Goals are what you do every day in order to have a chance to hit your target. Goals should push you to do what needs to be done to uncover more and more of your potential. They can be mundane and simple – eating enough vegetables, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. Or they can be challenging – swimming regularly with swimmers faster than you are right now, or performing new and challenging dives. Either way they MUST be controllable. You must be able to accomplish it with 100% certainty. Your goals become your roadmap to your target.
- Make your targets and goals into a lifestyle. Put them somewhere that they are visible all the time. You must make them an everyday part of your life it you want any chance of achieving your target. I know you are each very busy with different things in your life, especially at this point in the school year. But that underscores the importance of taking time today (not tomorrow or next week) but today, to contemplate what you intend to do and how you plan to do it by next November.
- Begin every day and end every day with the same two questions. When you wake up in the morning, you must ask yourself what you plan to do in order to fulfill your goals and move toward your target during the day. When you go to bed, ask yourself what you actually did that day to move yourself forward. You should have clear answers to both questions. When you have those answers you are on the right track; when you don’t you need to get there. Good news is that even if you lose focus from time-to-time, you can ALWAYS regain it.
Setting good targets and goals is as important to a season as good training. If you have no direction, you will wander aimlessly throughout the season, and you will have to rely on luck to achieve anything of note. If you have a firm direction of where you want to go, you have a good chance of getting to your destination. I cannot, of course, guarantee that you will achieve your target. But I can guarantee that you will fulfill my goals/targets for you, and you will finish the season with the peace of mind that can only come from having done your very best.
*original thoughts by Dan Iverson