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Goal Setting For Life

The core of any goal-setting strategy is an endpoint that serves as the focus of one’s efforts. The emerging plan, including short-term goals, is established to increase the probability of reaching that ultimate goal. As such, please consider the importance of picking that ultimate endpoint: is it a game victory, a league victory, a scholarship, etc.? Whatever the case may be, one starts with a desired long-term goal for a specific reason.

In the movie Coach Carter, there is a scene in which a parent of one of the high school basketball stars is in a heated discussion with the coach. The mother yells at the coach that his actions are depriving the players of, "The best time of their life". The coach, played by Samuel L. Jackson, snaps back, arguing his methods ensure the best time in the lives of the players is not limited to just occurring when the players are 18 years old.

This idea begs the question of what/when is the long-term goal set forth for the young student-athlete? What point in time in the future is being considered so important as to highly prioritize your use of time at present? Does the student-athlete sacrifice long-term goals for short-term rewards (e.g. wins, prestige, bragging rights, etc.) or does the student-athlete sacrifice the short-term for the long-term payoffs (e.g. a future professional career (athletically or non-athletically), future health benefits, learning life lessons, etc.)?

Again, as the parent or the player, is the goal a league championship, a D1 scholarship, or something else? Are the aspirations of the player and the parent aligned or drastically different? Are these aspirations based in reality or an idealized vision of potential, desire, and pay off?

Just as Coach Carter alludes to, what about the rest of your life?

If the goal is a D1 scholarship, what about life from age 22 to 95 years old? Are we even aware of what comes after that scholarship is over? Building off of this, consider the young soccer player and his or her family that fully devote themselves to the achievement of that D1 full scholarship; the dream may be achieved, but does that ensure that the young student-athlete will be happy, successful, and prosperous for the rest of his or her life? Consider these possible outcomes below:

Scenario #1: The young student athlete earned that D1 scholarship, but two years later, he or

she has yet to touch the field and has become heavily involved with negative behaviors in

order to cope with the stress of losing his or her "identity" as a star player and team

contributor. A year later, he or she drops out of school and the student athlete’s life

continues to derail.

Scenario #2: The team just won a national championship and the young student-athlete

stands out as the player that elbowed an opponent behind the referee’s back and yelled

obscenities at the opposing parents. Perhaps the student-athlete feels validated as the goal

of winning was achieved and it was done by any means necessary. Ten years later, how might

this lesson further manifest in other facets of his or her life? This positive reinforcement of

behavior can certainly be highly ingrained in other aspects of life. Might this be the adult

who now struggles with relationships, work, anger, etc.? Might that win-at-all-costs lesson

come back to haunt him or her in other realms of life?

While it is certainly important to formulate long-term goals for personal development, it is perhaps more important to consider the process of getting there. In this way, life does not end with the achievement of or the failure to achieve a goal; rather, life is enriched!


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