How to win Olympic gold in literature… metaphorically.

Did you watch the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi? I’m a big fan of the Olympics overall, but the Winter Games holds a special place in my heart because, well, I’m Canadian, and Canadians are good with winter. Also, there are so many weird and impressive sports in the Winter Games that I don’t get to see in the three intervening years (I mean ski cross? Snowboard slopestyle? This shit is crazy). I bring this up not to brag about Canada’s hockey and curling and moguls dominance – because that would be rude… and I’d hate to upset the stereotype of the mild-mannered, polite, and dull Canadian – but instead to talk about inspiration and goal setting.

It’s amazing to see ordinary people push themselves to their physical and mental limits to be the best in the world. It makes me feel hopeful. It makes me feel patriotic. It makes me feel inspired. But most of all, it makes me feel lazy. These athletes are working every day for years to be their best, and then testing their best against their peers. They work with coaches and trainers and teammates to make almost imperceptible changes and tiny improvements to their process/program/form/mental strength. They set challenging goals and allow themselves no excuses. So let’s do the same.

If you’ve ever worked in a corporate environment, you’ll be familiar with this process. Your ability to make and achieve professional goals is likely what determines if you receive a raise. Goal setting in your personal life is way more fun. My favourite goal setting resource actually comes from lululemon. Allow me to liberally copy-paste from their corporate blog right now:

break it down
Break your big goal down into multiple smaller goals. For example: if your goal is to do a handstand without the wall, set a goal that you can achieve in a shorter amount of time that will help you get there, such as “I will practice kicking up into handstand 20 times a week for a month by June 2011.”

write it in present tense
Write your goals in the present tense, as though they already happened. This gets your mind used to thinking that your dreams don’t have to be dreams; they can be reality.
Examples:
Asavakrasana is part of my yoga practice by November 2013.
I do a handstand without the wall and can hold it for 2 minutes by August 2012.

make it measureable
Can you measure your goal? If you can’t measure it, it’s not a goal. This can be a challenging part of goal-setting, but there is a way to write each of your biggest, baddest goals so that they are measurable in some way.

use affirmative language
Say what you will do, not what you won’t do. This will focus your energy on the desired outcome rather than the actions or behaviours that must stop.
Example: “I practice sidecrow” instead of “I stop avoiding sidecrow.”

be specific
Make your goals as specific and concise as possible. Keep it under 15 words, with no justification required. You can always change your mind!

by when
Attach a date to your goal. State the month in addition to the year. Dates keep you accountable. Don’t over-think things too much – just pick a date.

and now, your turn!
Here is a goal sheet for you to write in your 1, 5, and 10-year goals. At the top, write what your age and life will be like in 10 years.”

Perhaps I’ll post mine to stay accountable. It will not include the word “sidecrow.”

S.E. Lund

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