Time to dream.
Goal Setting is the first stage in the SAILUCATION Performance Improvement Cycle. The Goal Setting Stage helps you to understand where you are currently and where you want to go.
I believe everybody can be successful in racing sailboats. There is not one single talent that gives you the ultimate advantage. The sport is too complex. Most important is that you find your own style and your personal talent that can contribute to sailing better. So in Stage 1 it is allowed to dream. Imagine where you want to end up at the next regatta, where you want to be at the end of this season and what are your long-term objectices.
Then you need to understand where you currently are and what you need to do to close this gap. It is important to be realistic, otherwise this process will lead to frustration. Some goals might need to be too difficult to be reached within a season, but if it is important to you turn it to a long-term goal. Imagine when you are at the bottom of a staircase it will be really hard to get to the top straight away but you will be able to walk up the stairs to finally reach the top!
How to set your goals
Have you set goals in the past, only to fall short of reaching them? Just saying you want something isn’t really setting a goal. It’s a mere statement without action.
There are certain strategies you can use that will help you reaching your goal. Make sure that your goals are SMART!
It’s like creating a map. You have to know exactly where you start and exactly where you intend to end up. If you don’t have any idea where you’re going, you’re just going to wander around lost.
Make your goal as specific as possible. What exactly do you want? For instance, if your goal is to win the club championship, what does that mean to you? In which field do you have to improve to beat the other guys? Are they just better starters or are they much quicker than you on the upwind? To keep it simple use SAILUCATION`s key elements of racing.
Make it measurable
You have to be able to measure your progress so you know when you arrive at your goal destination. Sticking with the example above how much faster do you have to become to beat the other guys upwind? Do you have to invest in equipment like new sails, foils etc.?
Keep it realistic
Everyone wants everything right now. One reason why fast-food-places have become more and more polular.
However, if you set a goal that is over energetic, you are only setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. It’s great to want to achieve huge feats, but start with something realistic. Once you reach that goal, then you can go for something more challenging. The SAILUCATION Performance Improvement Cycle can be used over and over again.
How realistic is it to be as fast upwind as the other guys in your sailing Club within a single season? If you have just lost the club championship in the previous year by a small margin this goal might be realistic. If you are at the end of the fleet you might need a bit of more time (think about the example with the staircase).
Set a timeframe
Having a due date is extremely important. Often this is set by the date of for example your club championship. But what actions do you have to take to perform as wished in your target event? For example if you have lost the last time due to poor starts and a lack of boat handling you know exactly the areas you need to work on. Estimate the time you need on the water to train on those areas to improve as much as you need to be at least at an equal level as your opposition.
Once you know your final goal, break it into manageable pieces by setting mini-goals so it isn’t quite so overwhelming. Sticking to our example above try to become an aggressive starter, get the best boat handling skills and so on. Normally there are smaller club races where you can test these mini goals.
In addition to reducing the feeling of overwhelm, when you reach mini-goals it gives you a feeling of success and achievement. This motivates you to keep going, which is an integral part of the process. Also try to adjust either your amount of training or your final goal if you realize your estimate for training was not correct.
Have rewards in place
Just as reaching mini-goals keeps you motivated, so does having rewards in place. Celebrate your successes. If you reach a milestone, do something enjoyable. For example if you win a club race as a build-up to the club championship go out with your friends and have a few drinks.
Finally I have to say that it is also a learning process to be able to set the right goals. Especially at the beginning you will experience that your goals were too enthusiastic. Don’t be frustrated. Your estimate will get much better and more realistic quickly.