Goals are usually things we talk about in relation to our players, but they're also powerful for our own careers. As usual, the wonderful Harvard Business Review has a great article on their blog titled, "Nine Things Successful People Do Differently". That piqued my interest because I sure would like to be successful!
7 things we can do to make sure we accomplish our goalsSeize the moment to act on your goals. Let's say your goal is to workout everyday of a particular month. It's a personal challenge that you've set up for yourself, because you understand that working out is good for you...it's just that time always gets away from you. If you're going to complete your challenge, you can't sleep in everyday and go home to watch television every night. Carpe diem and get it in!
Know exactly how far you have to go. Here's another scenario: you've got a player who you think should be an all-conference player. She's not there yet, in fact, she's totally under the radar with the other coaches in your conference. Figure out what your player needs in order to be the best in your conference...and then convince her to put the work in. Understanding where she is and where she needs to go will be a great life lesson for her!
Be a realistic optimist. Wanting something isn't enough. Wanting to be successful isn't enough. Having positive self-talk isn't enough. Those are all good things, but they won't make things happen. While we want to stay focused on our goal and believe that we will accomplish it...successful coaches always assess where they are in terms of being able to check that goal off of the list.
Focus on getting better, rather than being good. A lot of times, people ask me how I have time to write this blog. I always say the same thing: I'm trying to get better. Writing this blog and speaking at different places forces me to learn more about working with people, different coaching techniques, and how to communicate effectively...all things that I believe will make me a better coach.
Have grit. According to the article, "grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals". Even when we've totally crashed and burned. Even when it looks like success isn't in the cards. Toddlers are gritty when they're learning to walk. They don't fall down once and say, "oh well, guess I'll just crawl everywhere." Nope. They get up...again and again until they master walking.
Build your willpower muscle. Willpower is something we can practice, it isn't just something we have. Going back to our first example of the month-long challenge to workout every day for a month, that is a good test of our willpower. You'll probably feel great the first week or two, maybe even a little proud of yourself. But those last couple of weeks might be a grind where you're dragging yourself to the gym. That's building willpower.
Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do. We've all heard people say that if you tell someone, "don't think about a pink elephant in a tutu", then the first thing that's going to pop into their mind is a pink elephant in a tutu. It's the same thing with us. If we say, "whatever you do, don't yell at that player", it's going to be all you can think about. You may not yell, but you won't be focused on the task at hand. Instead, let's say what we will do.
These seven steps may take a bit of time to accomplish, but we've got time and we've got the drive to put the work in. If our goals are important enough, we'll do what it takes to accomplish them.
Dawn Redd is the Head Volleyball Coach at Beloit College. Come visit Coach Dawn's community of coaching nerds and team leaders over at her blog, http://www.coachdawnwrites.com/, where she teaches how to become an excellent coach, motivate individuals, and build successful teams.
Her book, Coach Dawn's Guide To Motivating Female Athletes, is available for purchase on her website.