Goal Setting: Get Smart

Todd Gimian is our guest Author this week. Check out more of Todd’s work on AR Build Junkie https://www.arbuildjunkie.com/

            Whether you are trying to become a champion in your field, or just working towards a better facet of life, goal setting is something we all deal with.  Some take it further than others, but it doesn’t have to be a complex system for you to achieve the results you want.  Structured goal setting can be broken down to one simple acronym for easy use: SMART

            Your goal has to be SPECIFIC.  If you have to broaden a goal, it will be far too easy to achieve without any sense of accomplishment.  By narrowing it down to a specific thing you want, you can focus on the prize and maintain working towards it.

            The goal you set must be MEASURABLE.  This ties in directly with why goals have to be specific.  If you cannot measure your progress or track your results, you are simply wasting time.  The easiest example here is weight loss.  If you say, “I want to lose weight,” then you have no way of tracking if you are doing well.  If you say, “I want to lose ten pounds in the next month,” you can easily figure out if you are on track or not.

            We all want to shoot for the moon, but a serious goal must be ATTAINABLE.  As this is a shooting sports group, it is easy to have the goal of being the first person to score a quantifiable hit with a .22 LR at 5 miles.  That is simply not a goal that is attainable with current guns and ammunition.  If, however, your goal was to shoot sub MOA at 1,000 yards with a .308, well now we have something that can be achieved.

            Going hand in hand with being attainable, your goal must be REALISTIC.  This, more than any other part of goalsetting, is going to be different for each individual.  Is it realistic to shoot PRS matches if you have Parkinson’s? That depends on how much of an uphill battle someone is willing to fight.  Is it realistic to be able to outshoot Ash or Jack in a match? If you are willing to put in the work.  You have to know what you are capable of, and what level of effort you are willing to put forth to achieve your end goal.
            Lastly, the goals you set need to be TANGIBLE. You need to understand what your motivation in the goal is, how to keep that motivation rolling throughout chasing your results, and understand that the tangibility may shift or change during the journey.  Let’s say your goal is to win a Quantified Performance match. Your original drive may be recognition from your peers.  Along the way, you do well and are rewarded with some prizes.  Now your drive may be fueled by the monetary savings or gear being offered (whether that is in addition to the recognition or replacing of it).

            With the basic structure laid out, there are a few tools and tricks that can help keep you on the path to success.  First, if you are unsure of your exact goal, ask yourself questions that will drive it towards a specific end.  “I want to do well in a match” with a few questions that can easily turn into, “I want to shoot top five in an Arena match in four months.” The more you narrow down the desired result, the easier it will be to focus on the outcome and track the progress along the way.

            Set your goal so that it is something that will challenge you.  If your goal is too easy or has too high a chance of success, you won’t feel any sense of accomplishment for achieving it.  There is a reason people talk about the relationship between risk and reward.  By that same thought, if it isn’t something you are likely to ever achieve, it is very easy to become discouraged and give up.  Ideally, your chance of success should be around 50% (you may need to adjust this with your level of risk tolerance).

            Finally, set milestones along the way.  Using short term goals as a way of tracking progress along the path to the result.  As you come upon the outcome of each short term goal, reassess things like the progress you’ve made, are there ways to increase how quickly or efficiently you are advancing, and if your goal is still the same.  If at any point you start to lose sight of your end goal or feel like things are getting stagnant, use visual cues, and affirmations to reignite the fire.  If your goal is to place in the top three at a match, hang a well-shot target up so that it reminds you every time you see it.  If your goal is to shave time off your stages, set a simple course up you are forced to navigate at home while doing basic tasks.  Remind yourself verbally why you are working hard to fuel that positive energy.  In the end, the only person you are responsible for achieving a goal is yourself.  Don’t short change yourself.