Submitted via Guest Blogger, Laura Brown, RBC Olympian & Olympic Bronze Medalist

Photo credit: Inner Voice

Now more than ever, it seems everyone talking about their goals and how they are on the path to achieving them. While this can come with positives, goal setting in today’s world can also be overwhelming, especially for those of us who can fall prey to social media comparisons or stacking up against others. It can seem like if we aren’t running marathons or learning a new language, we are inadequate. Or for many of us we think, if only I lived closer to the trails, or made more money, or had more time, I could achieve my goals. But can I let you in on a little secret? You are enough. You have everything you need inside of you to achieve what you want and to fulfill your deepest desires of your life.

There are many recipes to achieving goals, but I am going to walk you through an approach that has proven successful in many areas of my life, including my Olympic career, and I know it can for yours too.

Step 1: Think about the goal

This can seem monotonous and time-consuming but a little bit of pre-planning can go a long way. I had a coach always say, failing to plan is planning to fail. When we put in work ahead of time, it is easier to make sure we stay on track and we set ourselves up for success.

Step 2: Pick a goal

Photo credit: Canadian Cyclist

And pick a big one - if it’s too easy, we don't gain the same satisfaction in achieving it. Goals can be related to anything! Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Once you pick your goal, chunk it out into more manageable pieces. What I mean by this is that if your goal is that you want to ride 100km on August 27. Write this long-term goal out and while working backwards, outline each step (mini-goals: daily, monthly) you'll need to take along the way, all the way back until present day. This is your starting point and now you have a compass.

Step 3: Create your roadmap (using the 5Ws)

Who - that's you! And who do you need help from in striving towards and achieving your goal? Tell people about your goal! Research shows if we share, we are more likely to achieve them.

What - is your goal? What do you need to achieve it? I like having a daily reminder on my fridge or mirror to keep my goal front of mind, rather than writing down and filing it away forever.

When - do you want your goal achieved by? Forming a timeline for goal setting helps us stay on track and hold ourselves accountable. When thinking about timeline, make sure it’s something realistic and one that sets you up for success!

Where - will your goal be achieved at? – Will this be a physical setting, or a place in time? Ie – getting to the top of the Grouse Grind, or crossing the finish line after a 50km cycling event?

Why - are you doing what you’re doing? This one is most important! Take time to unpack your why, your purpose. You will find more motivation in the daily actions if your goal is aligned with your values.

How - will you achieve your goal? This is what you are doing to get there. Write it down. “During the next week, I will ride for at least 45 minutes everyday at 7:00am around Stanley Park.”

Step 5: Reward yourself and re-set

Finally, ask yourself: how will I know when I have achieved my goal? And how will I celebrate achieving the goal? Keep motivation high by rewarding the progress and celebrating the little wins along the way. Keep in mind that these rewards should be in alignment with your values and what you want to achieve.

Photo Credit: Team Colavita

Once you have achieved your goal by a certain date (or not, and that’s okay), spend time debriefing your goal setting process and the effort you put in. What worked? What didn't? What are you going to do differently next time? Have compassion towards yourself just because you didn't achieve a goal, it does not mean it was a failure. Take what you learnt and set a new goal. 

Step 6: Remember, you’ve got this

Striving towards a goal is never linear. So please don’t get discouraged if you take a step forward, and then two steps backwards along the way. Use your goal setting as a guide, constantly, debrief with yourself, and be as flexible as possible as goals can change along the journey.

And what’s most important is that you show up. Showing up is even more important than succeeding because if nothing else, you are building good habits. While there can be many ingredients to goal setting, make sure persistence, perspective, passion are top of that list.