Goal Setting Secrets of a Three-time Olympian
What I learned at the Olympic Training Center that you could use to win in life.
What would your life be like if failure was not an option? Would you like to perform at your peak more often? What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Four years after making a decision to begin training for the Olympics, I made my dream come true. I competed in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics in the luge. I went on to compete in the 1992 Albertville Olympics and I just competed in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics at the age of 39.
How does someone who did not even take up the sport of luge until he was 22 become a Three-Time Olympian? As I tell thousands of people in my speeches, I'm not a big shot. I'm just a little shot that keeps on shooting. I'm proof that ordinary people can aspire to achieve extraordinary things if they will just follow a few simple steps.
Aspire to Achieve: Four Steps to Success* Step 1: Choose a goal Step 2: See yourself succeeding at your goal. Step 3: Choose a quality that will help you reach your goal. Step 4: Create a new habit that will help you achieve your goal.
Step 1: Choose a goal
What changes would you like to make in your life that excite you just by thinking about them? What would you love to do? Where do you want to be 10 years from now? What is your dream?
Ever since I was in the third grade I wanted to be an Olympic Athlete. I respected the Olympians because they were an example of what I believed in 'they are willing to commit to a goal, willing to risk adversity in the pursuit of it, willing to fail and at the same time keep trying until they succeeded. But it was not until I was in college and saw Scott Hamilton compete in the Sarajevo games that I actually made the decision to train for the Olympics.
But just thinking about your goal is not enough. If you want to reach your goal, you need to make it real 'write it down!. Don't worry how you will make your dream come true at first. Magic happens when you put your goals down on paper. Writing it down is the first step in turning a dream you might achieve into a goal you will achieve.
In 1960, Harvard Business School did a study of their graduates 20 years after they had graduated. They found the top 3% moneymakers made as much money as the other 97% put together. The only difference between the two groups was the top 3% had always written and regularly read their goals. As a result, everything they did on a day-to-day basis was focused on reaching their goals.
When Tiger Woods was a young boy, he wrote down on a 3x5 card that he intended to break all of Jack Nicklaus' records. Tiger read his card every night. Jack Nicklaus agrees that Tiger in on track to make it happen.
The most effective way to write your goals down is to take a 3x5 card and on one side write:
"I intend to (state your goal). by (date)."
On the other side of your card write why.
"I intend to accomplish this because "(state your reasons)"
Write at least three reasons why you will do it. The more reasons the more you increase your belief.
Read your card first thing in the morning EVERY DAY to stay focused on the objective. Then read your card EVERY NIGHT before turning out the lights so your subconscious can work all night on ways to make it happen.
Step 2: See yourself succeeding at your goal.
Several times a day close your eyes and for a couple of minutes vividly imagine what it's going to feel like when you achieve your goal. Really get into it. Feel it as if it were really happening 'right now!. Get excited! Your subconscious does not know the difference between imagining it and it really happening. By doing this, you become passionate about your desire, your belief becomes unshakeable and you become unstoppable.
I constantly imagined what it was going to be like when I walked into the Olympic Stadium at the Opening Ceremonies. I imagined it in great detail. I could see the crowds waving at me. I could see the flags and the balloons. I could hear the roar of the crowd, the fireworks, the Olympic Hymn. I could feel the cold wind blowing snow onto my cheeks. I could feel the tears of joy streaming down my face. I could feel the goose bumps running up my back and over my shoulders. I thought about it all the time, while jogging, while lifting weights, even in the shower. It was my dream 'but it became my goal! And when I finally entered the Olympic arena, it was just the same -only 100 times better.
Seeing yourself succeeding is an important step because imagining yourself succeeding will keep you from quitting when the going gets tough 'and it will!
Seeing yourself succeeding is fun! You can feel the excitement of reaching your objective 'before you get there. You will feel victorious. You will feel great. But don't wait until you get there to practice feeling successful 'imagine being successful now!
Step 3: Choose a quality that will help you reach your goal.
Have you ever looked at someone and wished you could be like them? Everyone has at one time or another. The good news is that if you notice a quality in someone else, you have some of that quality in yourself. You just need to develop it further. "It takes one to know one". Any quality you admire in someone else is a quality you have 'you just need to practice it!
So step number three in reaching your goal is to choose the main quality you think you will need to reach your goal. Is it Boldness? Creativity? Enthusiasm? Patience? Leadership?....
In my case it was Perseverance. To get good at the luge, I knew I was going to have to endure many crashes and injuries and simply refuse to give up. So I made a decision to become perseverant. To never quit. Someone has said, "The main difference between a success and a failure is that the success tried one more time." I decided to persevere in trying one more time.
Step 4: Create a new habit that will help you achieve your goal.
Good habits usually don't just happen. You need to develop a specific plan for creating a new habit. It's simply a matter of choosing an action that helps develop your quality, deciding when to practice that habit, knowing that you are going to have to repeat it many times and then give yourself a reminder.
Since perseverance was the most important quality I needed to have to reach my goal, I needed to find ways to develop my perseverance. I had to get good at "not quitting". So I decided to become an expert on perseverance. I read books about people who had faced great challenges and refused to give up. I got inspired that if they could 'I could!
I made a decision that no matter how bad a crash I had, I would get back on the my sled. I had a picture of a luge athlete riding a sled. I used that picture to remind me to get back on my sled.
My action step, my habit, was going to be getting back on the my sled, after every crash, no matter what. I practiced getting on my sled more than most. I did it when I didn't want to. I did it when it hurt. This was the habit I was going to develop.
Sometimes, after a painful crash, I'd have to work at it. I would have to walk up and down the track for a long time telling reminding myself things like " I'm a winner. I'm going to the Olympics. I never quit. I'm getting back on the my sled. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. No matter how bad it gets, I'm going to make it if I don't quit! I never give up!". I thought of that picture of the Olympian on a luge sled. Eventually, I'd get to the point where I could walk up to the coach and say "Coach, I'm ready to get back on the my sled.".
And it worked! On the road to the Olympics, many athletes much faster than me, much more talented than me, chose to quit along the way. How do you think they felt when they watched the Olympics on TV? The price of getting your dream is big but the pain of regret is hundreds of times bigger.
Create a habit, something you do every day, to develop that quality you need to reach your goal.
You can do it. No matter what your dream is, you can make it happen if you follow these four simple steps: 1) Choose a goal, 2) see yourself succeeding, 3) choose a quality, and 4) create a habit to develop your quality. Commit to these four steps.
The difference between people is there are those who are interested and there are those who are committed. A key to success in life is going from being just interested to being fully committed. Once you are committed you will produce results. At the point of commitment, you mentally "burn all the bridges" and you do whatever it takes to make it happen. THAT - S when you become unstoppable!
Commit to these four steps and you too will make your dreams come true!
About the Author
Three-time Olympian and peak-performance expert Ruben Gonzalez speaks professionally all over the US. His articles on peak performance are read all over the world.