Goals are an important part of living. They give us purpose to explore, learn and grow ourselves into the beings we aspire to be. Why is it then that many fall short in the pursuit of these goals?
Yes there are an array of factors in our lives that need our attention. Family, friends, career ambitions and you can continue to add what is relevant to you. Whatever you value you will give your attention to and this will be clearly reflected in your time spent and personal pursuits. As a result you find yourself giving more or less time to the things that you do and don’t enjoy. In sporting terms, if you enjoy what you do then you will give more time to practicing, developing it and as a result improvements will follow.
It’s been a long time since I taught kids to swim for a job. I use to do it as my main job at one stage working 30hrs a week in the water. I predominantly worked with 2-6 year olds, it was exhausting but I loved it. In those years with working 100’s of children I learnt so much about how to work with people. Why ? Because kids don’t lie. At a young age most kids don’t do what they don’t want to do. We all have a laugh when kids say things that adults think but don’t say. Parents can take their children to the pool for lessons and sit there and watch however if that kid doesn’t want to they won’t swim. Some parents would tell their child ‘you wont get such’n’such’ if you don’t swim. More often than not this didn’t work. I wanted to help them swim and I’m a problem solver and this is what I learnt: First and foremost there must be a benefit to the kid to even contemplate swimming (or do anything).
I recall 10 years ago young Riley came to swim lessons for the first time. He was shy as some kids are and for the first 2 weeks would only sit on the edge of the pool. I’d keep the lessons fun for the kids and reward them for progress. I could see Riley was interested but not enough to get in. A lot of the time Riley would be paying his older brothers attention a few lanes over while they had their lessons. A few questions to Rileys parents before the 3rd lesson and things took a dramatic change. See, Riley adored his older brothers. Coming up in January (it was late November) Riley and his family were going to head to Iluka for holidays. The year before he wasn’t allowed to swim in the beach with his brothers as his parents wanted him to have some water skills before doing so. So with a few quiet words I could see his face change with the thought that he could be joining his brothers if he improved enough in lessons. Long story short is Riley became so engrossed in the goal of hanging out in the water with his brothers in Iluka that before he left for holidays he was already swimming 20m unassisted. He became so keen that he would arrive early for his lesson and wait on the side of the pool. He was only 4 yrs old
I was asked a few months ago to do some lessons with a young girl who wanted to learn to surf. I’m no longer in the kids learn to swim game however made the exception to help out. In this case Charlottes parents wanted her to swim 200m continually before they would allow her to do surfing lessons. In this case could see very early on that Charlotte was more than capable of doing that but there was 1 thing, she didn’t want to. She wanted the end result (surfing lessons) but wasn’t willing to do what was required to get that.
Putting this into perspective and back into the world of sport and triathlon, too often I see people setting goals they don’t really want. They kind of want them. If you only kind of want them then it’s no surprise that you only kind of do the work which shouldn’t surprise that a mediocre result will come. The biggest difference however between adults and kids when it comes to this though is that adults try and convince themselves that it is what they want. They bullshit themselves. This is not to be mistaken by thoughts whilst training for somthing that it is challenging and not easy. What I’m saying is set goals that mean something to you. If it doesn’t mean anything then don’t do it. You won’t enjoy it, do the work required or get the satisfaction you want from it. You may even go through the whole process and achieve your goal and be left with this ‘empty’ and unsatisfied feeling.
People are captivated with the Olympics for many reasons, one is that they can see in the people competing the drive and will that they enjoy feeling themselves when completing something worthwhile and meaningful. Your drive may not be to win Olympic gold and nor does it have to be. If your values are your family, health and fitness then your goal of achieving a half marathon pb while raising a family and working fulltime can leave you with the same sense of satisfaction as winning gold. The key is that you don’t BS yourself with ‘little’ goals that don’t mean anything to you.
Set a target, work relentlessly towards it and enjoy the satisfaction that is achieving something you worked hard for. Personal satisfaction is the most important ingredient of success.