Set Goals For Success

Successful athletes reflect on their performance throughout the season, so work out what you want to achieve and set goals for success.

Published June 13, 2012 01:10

Set Goals For Success
Anabel Medina Garrigues

Success is measured when you hit your target or reach your goal.

Many athletes will set goals or make resolutions at the end of the season for the New Year. For a lot of athletes and individuals, the process stops there. The next December, they will be puzzled why they have got to the end of yet another year without reaching their goals.

Sound familiar? Don't leave your destiny to chance…
Smart, successful athletes and individuals reflect on their performance throughout the season; they realize it is not something that only happens once a year when the season is over. They:
• Evaluate where they are , what is going well, and what could improve.
• Plan and act on strategies and make needed changes to help you reach your set targets.
• Set goals and act on them. It helps them flourish in their passion and in life.

So…What do you want to achieve?
It is wise to plan for those things you wish to achieve. Sometimes this requires changing unhelpful things and accessing resources and qualified professional guidance to help you strategize what you want.

"Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for. It is a thing to be achieved."

William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), Lawyer & Politician


When you begin any journey, be it your education or your life, you need to set a direction for where you want to end up. It is a bit like the rudder or the controls on a boat. The rudder helps keep your boat on course, heading where you want to go. You may go off course from timeto time, but you will keep returning to the course.

By setting the rudder, you can change direction and aim for a new destination. When going on a long journey, you will make stops along the way. You will plan your journey and use a map as you go to keep you travelling in your desired direction. Goals are the destinations:

• They are the things you want to achieve and reach on your journey.
• Without goals, you don't know where you are headed.
• Without goals, you don't know if you are moving forward.
• Without goals, you don't know when you have arrived.

Would you travel on a boat if you didn't know where it was going?

To be an athlete and/or individual who knows where he/she wants to go, using a map and clear directions of how to get there, set your Goals for Success.


Follow these guidelines to reach your goals. Make your goals:

• Strive for what YOU want, not what others (parents, coach, manager, boyfriend/girlfriend...) want.
• Think carefully about what you really want and set goals in accordance with your values, those things that are really important in your life.
• You can set goals for ALL areas of your life: sports, finances, health, education, relationships, personal development, spirituality, rest and relaxation.

• Work towards what you want, NOT what you want to leave behind.
"To hit 75% of high backhand volleys in the court" is a positive goal. "To avoid hitting high backhand volleys out" is negative and will not allow you to play aggressive and winning shots.
"To move around faster on the court." is not clear enough. A better goal is really specific: "To complete each footwork drill in 90 seconds and to achieve that time for each of five consecutive sets."

• With some work and effort. Goals should be challenging and stretch you just past where you can reach.
• They should be not so easy that they are of no real value, nor so difficult that they result in frustration or despair.
• Divide ambitious or longer-term goals up into smaller, achievable or shorter-term goals.

• A specific measurable target helps you monitor your progress and know when you achieve it.
"To hit with 70% accuracy on my backhand down the line" is measurable. "To improve my backhand down the line" is unclear.
• Set realistic target dates for when you want to reach your goal to help you stay on track.

• Outcome goals are not entirely within your control.
• When you focus on the process, on what you do and how you do it, the outcome you want is more likely.

• Commit your goals to paper. It makes the goals real. It motivates you. It is used by successful people in all occupations.
• A Harvard Business School study discovered that, only 3% of graduates had written goals; 13% of graduates had unwritten goals; and 84% had no specific goals. Ten years later, the same graduates were interviewed again. The results are clear. Written goals work:
* The 13% with goals had average pay of TWO times as much as the graduates without goals. 
* The 3% with clear, written goals earned, on average, TEN times as much as the other 97% put together!!

"I was focusing on the tactics me and my coach talked about, and it worked. I'm also just trying to enjoy playing tennis and trying not to think about winning or losing, my ranking, or anything else. I just want to play my best on the court and because of that I have been doing very well recently."

Anabel Medina Garrigues, 11-time WTA titleist.

• Action plans are strategies used to reach the goals.
• Action plans can be changed if they are not working according to plan.
• Without action plans, goals are just a list of "wishes". You may as well ask your fairy godmother for help!


• To achieve goals requires work and commitment.
• Regularly evaluate your progress. If you are not as far along as you would like, maybe you set the goal too high; maybe you need to modify your goal, or to change your action plan to achieve it.
• "Giving up" is not an option!
• Expect many "learning moments" along the way. Sometimes people wrongly call these "failures"...
• A supportive team focused on the process, not the outcome, will help you achieve your goals.


The contents of the Health site are for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological, health care or health management advice. The materials herein are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.

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