Sunday, April 24, 2011

Goal Setting – What’s the Big Deal?

Well, we are going out on a limb here…all of us already know what the big deal is about goal setting. If you don’t know where you are going two things will happen for certain: 1) you will not get there, 2) you will not get lost. Our team is approaching the high school championship meet in a few weeks and they all have written down goals. It is helping them focus. Practices have become livelier. Stroke technique is being worked on. And we are encouraging them to push into unfamiliar territory – to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, in terms of physical discomfort caused by their exertion.

USA Swimming puts out a weekly newsletter for all members and the article below was in a recent one. We thought it hit the nail on the head in several ways. We hope you will enjoy it!

Seven Reasons People Don’t Set Goals and How to Overcome Each of Them

by Kevin Eikenberry, Chief Potential Officer, The Kevin Eikenberry Group

Talk to ten people and nine of them will tell you they believe in goal-setting. These nine people will tell you that goals are important, that they can help you be happier and healthier, and that they are the best and fastest way to achieve more in life.

I would agree with those nine people. Unfortunately eight of the nine, when pressed, will tell you they don’t set many (or any) goals; that they really want to, but….
Actually, I’m being a bit optimistic here. I’ve read several times (through I can’t corroborate it with specific research right now) that only about 3% of people ever set and write down any goals. If most everyone thinks goals are important, and most everyone would like to be happier, healthier, achieve more, etc., etc., etc., why don’t they set goals?

There are seven reasons that I have observed.
1. People don’t know how to set goals.
2. People are searching for the perfect way to set goals.
3. People are afraid to set goals.
4. People are afraid to succeed.
5. People are afraid they won’t succeed.
6. People don’t want to set the goal too high.
7. People don’t want to set the goal too low.

After looking at and thinking more about this list, I believe they really are excuses for not setting goals, not reasons. Let’s look at each excuse, and then explore how to solve the problem and erase the excuse.

As you read the list this time, read them all with a whine in your voice, and look for which on the list is your personal excuse (there may be none—good for you; there may be more than one—good for you for being honest—now you have the opportunity to change your habit).

This makes sense in a way. How can we do anything if we don’t know how to do it? Maybe you really don’t know how, but to be honest the resources to help you learn are plentiful, and we aren’t talking rocket science here. There are thousands of books about goal-setting and hundreds of free resources on the internet. (Actually an search on goal setting nets more than 30,000 results, and a Google search on the same phrase yields more than 23 million results. Solution #1—Find a resource, read it and get started.

This excuse is the opposite of Excuse #1. There are some people that collect goal-setting books, tools and techniques like others collect baseball cards. Yes, there are many approaches; and yes, some may be better than others or work better for you. But none of them will work until you do. Solution #2—Enough collecting! Pick an approach and get started.

Afraid of what? The unknown? There is nothing to be afraid of, except the unknown of trying. Recognizing your fear is a great first step, but setting goals isn’t like the unknown climbing Mt. Everest or swimming with sharks. There really is nothing to be afraid of (although there are two more excuses related to fear.) Solution #3—The best way to conquer a fear is to do the thing you fear. Set a goal. Start with a small, short-term one if you must, but just try it!

Actually, this excuse falls into a special category because people typically won’t really say it and might not even think it. But in reality, it may be the biggest and most powerful excuse of all. If you set a goal, you might achieve it, and in a paradoxical way, some people are afraid of the change that might come with that achievement. Or, in some other cases they don’t feel worthy of achieving it. Solution #4—Start with a small goal, one that will help you build your confidence and show you some success that you can manage. (If you have significant self-esteem issues that are preventing you from feeling worthy, I encourage you to get help.)

OK, so you may fail. If you set a goal to lose 20 pounds and you only lose 10 is that so bad? How many pounds would you have lost if you hadn’t set a goal at all? Repeat after me: “There is nothing wrong with failing. Failing is just a chance to make corrections before trying again.” Solution #5—Let go of your fear; just a little bit, just this once. Just set a goal.

You hopefully can see that this is a combo-pack of Excuses 3 and 5 (and maybe a bit of #2 as well). If the goal is motivating to you, you will make progress. Maybe the goal is massive, and maybe you won’t reach it; but if you set it you will move in the right direction. Plus, imagine the big satisfaction of meeting-or even exceeding-that big goal. Solution #6—Set a big goal, and go for it!

How can this be? If you set a goal and reach it, great! Then you can set another one, big or small. Just like anything else, with practice comes greater skill. Some of your goals may be easy to reach, and that is OK. Over time you will learn to calibrate the goals you set to be just right for you. Solution #7—Set a small goal and get started.
Have you noticed a theme in these solutions? Since you know goals can make your life better, set some. Set one or set fifty, but just get started. The best way to get to where you want to go is to decide what that destination is. The best way to start setting goals is to set one. (Yes, it is just that simple.)

Get started. Set a goal, even if it isn’t perfect. Set a goal, even if it’s too big or too small. Set a goal, and I’m guessing you already will have achieved one of your biggest goals
—”You know, I really ought to set some goals this year….”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Great Powers in Life

We went to an early season long course senior development meet this weekend. You know the kind of meet; everyone is in the midst of training, no one is placing much importance on the results of this meet - except they look at the scoreboard for their time! - And then evaluate their swim based largely upon that time. Swimmers are both blessed and cursed by the stopwatch; if the time is fast then it is a "good" swim; if it is not so fast then it is a "bad" swim. What is our collective and individual obsession about the stopwatch? Where did we "learn" that fast = good and slow = bad?

We keep talking with our team about attitude. We believe our greatest power in life is our power to choose. And with this power comes responsibility. We are actually responsible and accountable for who we are. We can choose - as a swimmer - to be fast or slow; enthused about training or not; eager to improve our kick power or not; the list is endless. We can choose - as a person - to be successful or not; to be energetic or lazy; to be well educated or not; the list is endless.

Special "thanks and a shout out" to fellow coach Craig who inspired this week's blog. You are doing a great job; keep it up!! The quote we talked about is below...


by Charles Swindoll

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitudes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Three Tenths of a Second

Talk about excitement! Someone once said the NCAA Championships are the most energizing meet ever, anywhere. After reading the account below we wish we were there in person. Enjoy!

A Magical 31-Year Run And A Mad Three-Minute Sprint

by Eric Adelson, The PostGame

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kicking Set

Here is a kicking set we did the other night that went well. Many workouts look good on paper and then when we get to the pool the desired effect is not always there. This was a good one and so we share it with you.

As always, we warm up with something in the 1500-2000 range including some easy kicking in the mix. The set looks like this:
5 rounds of 1x100/2 then 2x50/1 then 4x25/.40 flat out fast

Each of the 100’s gets progressively (descending) faster. The 2 x50 start at ½ of the 100 speed with the 2nd 50 always faster than the first one. All the 25’s are full tilt boogie or as we say “burn those legs up” always with a smile on our face

You can adjust the interval to fit your needs/capabilities. This is 1500 of kicking that ends up really fast and taxing. We chose to give enough rest so they would take the bit and run with it…and they did! Except for the 25’s, the faster kickers were getting approximately a 1:1 work to rest ratio.

You could take this same set and do it pulling or swimming or a combination of all three disciplines. You could swim it IM as an option.

We finished this workout with some stroke drills and then a hypoxic loosen down. One of our mantras is to make sure the workouts are challenging yet still give the swimmer a chance to have success. This builds confidence and that is a wonderful thing for any competitor.

Got a favorite? Send it along and we will share. Have a great week at the pool!