Bob’s Blog – Setting Your Goals

Athletic Director Bob Howe provides insights and updates about Deerfield Athletics here on Bob’s Blog!


As I have been preparing for a Deerfield spring with no students on campus and no athletic teams, student activities, concerts, dance recitals, theater production and community service programs, I have had to think seriously about my new schedule and think differently about how I will approach doing my job at Deerfield until this health crisis subsides. There are some business-as-usual items that will need my attention such as the cancellation of all that we had planned on to do this spring as well as beginning to formulate the schedule for the fall season. Eventually, school life will resume again and this athletic department will need to be ready to conduct our business as usual.

What I miss most today is the day-to-day interactions I have with all the members of the athletic department team, the Deerfield coaches, and of course the students. For the past three weeks I have been in zoom meetings with many colleagues from the Deerfield community planning what the spring semester will look like for us all. When those meetings are done and I find myself alone it is important for me to have a plan in place to make good use of my time. All of a sudden I have days with very little structure in them and I’ve found already that I need to rely on creating to-do lists and prioritizing the things I need to get done in a different way than I have been doing in recent years. I have been doing some goal-setting with my department and this is the topic I will explore with you in this post.

Goal setting is something I am always talking about with anyone who will listen. It has always been an important part of my life and something that my coaches and mentors stressed the importance of to me often when I was a student athlete. Given the uniqueness of this COVID-19 era and the life-changing influence it has had on us all why not talk about goal-setting as a way to refocus on what is important to you now and reshape the ways in which you will get to where you want to be.

If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of what is happening in your life; it also provides you with a benchmark for determining whether you are actually moving in a positive direction. To accomplish your goals it is important that you know how to set them. You cannot just say you want to do “X” and expect this to happen. Setting a major goal for you like “I’m going to run a sub-six minute mile” cannot be done without some supportive foundation goals setting. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. For that runner who sets the goal of running under a six minute mile there needs to be numerous sub goals; like eating better, consistent training regime, stretching goals, and many more.

I am a big believer in setting many realistic, attainable goals that in combination will result in contributing to longer-term goals. When you develop multiple, consistent habits (small goal-setting) you  successfully develop your longer-term goals. In an article I read recently in a newsletter from Mind Tools I have been inspired by these 5 rules to help set your goals successfully. I plan on reviewing these steps with what I do regularly and I hope that something in what follows will inspire you to do the same. The situation we all find ourselves in now has to be met with positive thinking and as an opportunity to begin that next chapter in our lives.

  • Set goals that motivate you – Make sure that they are important to you. If you have little interest in the outcome then the chances of you putting in the work is diminished significantly.
  • Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound
    • Specific – Your goal should be clear and easily defined. (You want to improve your times, get stronger)
    • Measurable – Include times, precise amounts, percentages
    • Attainable Goals – Make sure that it is possible to attain the goals you have set. Instead of having just one major goal try setting a dozen smaller and more attainable ones that when combined point you closer to the major goal.
    • Relevant – Where do you want to be next year with your sport?
    • Time Bound – Your goals must have a deadline. When you have deadlines your sense of urgency increases and achieving goals is more likely to occur.
  • Set goals in writing – If you cannot see your goals you are more likely to lose your goals or alter them on days when you do not feel as committed. Make a daily to-do list. It always feels good to cross items off your list.
  • Make an action plan – Do not get so focused on the outcome. This is where setting multiple smaller goals plays in. You cannot become a sub-six minute miler (the big goal) without all the other minor goals that need to accompany the larger goal. You need to eat right, train daily, stretch, practice mental toughness etc.…
  • Stick with it! – Take the time to review your written goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but your action plan you set for yourself can change significantly

This week try setting a daily schedule that includes spring term goals for yourself using these steps mentioned above. Staying on a schedule helps keep you from being distracted and veering away from what you will accomplish. Your goals can be about your sport, your online classes, maintaining your strong Deerfield friendships or even contributing more around your house! These 5 steps can be used in multiple applications and may help bring a focus to you that will make a challenging time in your life a time when you learn more about yourself. Take the first step and set aside some time to think about these next three months and keep it positive! You have to because there are no other choices! J Right down some of the things you want to have happen in your life. Use the people in your corner to help you with this; advisors, teachers and coaches. We are Deerfield and we are here to help!

Go Big Green!

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