Goal Setting in an Age of Social Media and too Much Data
“This is going to be MY BEST SEASON ever!” At least, I keep hearing that implication from way too many athletes talking about it on their social media accounts. In fact, coach Zack once stated that “everyone trains 28 hours per week if you look at Instagram.” This feels like it’s true and as we approach “Ride to Coast” season it really drives home the FOMO that every athlete is well on their way to accomplishing their goals and we’re sitting at home reading articles about training on the internet…… But what are your goals and are they realistic?
Goal Setting is both easier and more difficult than ever. It’s easier because we have more diversity of events than ever so there’s something for everyone of all ages and pronouns. But, it’s more difficult because of the vast amount of data that we collect on ourselves every time we ride. That data should help us improve but oftentimes it can serve as a source of performance anxiety and lead to a version of imposter syndrome.
Here are some guidelines to help you set your goals for the coming year.
Goals Should be Specific, Observable and Measurable
Over the years I’ve had many clients say they want the coming season to be the “best ever” or to “be better than last year.” But what does that mean? Having measurable goals is very important when it comes to defining your own success. Does that equate to a best personal time, or a new 20 minute best power output? Or are you measuring your success based on event placings? Objective goals are always best when applying a scientific process, or any process that you’re measuring.
Know Your Limiters
One of my favorite examples of limiters is training time. Source Endurance uses an intake questionnaire that asks a two part series of questions to gauge how time limits training. The first asks how much you’ve trained the last 6 weeks and the second asks how much you’ve trained this year or last year. Many athletes answer that they train “12-15 hours per week” (~750 hrs annually) but then answer that they completed 420 hours of training last year (~8 hours per week). Right there we have a conflict of what has been accomplished and what the athlete perceives. This expectation needs to be managed. There are other limiters too and it’s important to address them all.
Goals Should be Difficult but Attainable
Obviously, if you set the bar really low you’ll reach and exceed it. Likewise if you set it absurdly high you’ll never reach the goal. Finding that sweet spot between difficult and attainable is how you succeed while pushing yourself to improve. Your coach can help you assess and set that goal at just the right spot.
Short and Long Term Goals
We’ve seen athletes with great long term goals that are derailed because they have nothing short term to help them along the way. Many athletes like to have a target on the near horizon that will help them stay focused on the journey to that big goal that’s over the horizon. These short term goals will act as benchmarks to keep you on the path towards success. Ideally they’re often enough to allow minor course corrections.
Training and Competition Goals
Training and competition are different animals. One is process based and the other is performance based. Be sure you have some goals in both realms.
Finally, back to where we started. Measuring outcomes is a perfect way to keep on track and also to evaluate your progress and success through the year and at year’s end. These outcomes should be specific, observable and measurable.
Hope this helps everyone get some clarity as we move towards next season. Best of luck and we’ll see you out there!
If you’re thinking about all that data you have and you want to help assessing your strengths and weaknesses to help with your goal setting, we can help with that. HERE.
If you’re thinking about your goals and feel like you’re ready to discuss the professional guidance of one of our coaches, click here to speak with a coach.
Thanks for reading.
About the Author:
Adam Mills has raced at the elite level since 2002 and graduated with a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kansas in 2005. His true talent comes with his ability to combine his vast experience with his knowledge of sport. He is indeed a student of science, sport, athletic performance, strategy, and tactics. He continuously educates himself by keeping up to date with current research trends and methods in sport and his clients have reaped the benefits from this work with over 24 national championships in 11 disciplines on two continents. Adam is able to incorporate these attributes on a daily basis to help his clients reach and exceed their goals whether they are a beginner or a seasoned professional. Learn more about Adam and Source Endurance here.