Lorrie’s Agility Dog Blog

Musings on Dogs, Agility, and Being an Instructor

Knowing Your Destination

One of the items in the agility training journals I hand out to my beginning students is an article about setting goals.  I tell them they need something to work toward if their agility journey is going to be successful.  I won’t make all of you try to endure through the full four pages (I include several examples), but I thought I’d share my tips on successfully setting attainable goals.  They are listed below, but I didn’t put them in any particular order.

 Own Your Goals:

  • Make sure your goals are yours, not goals other people have for you.
  • Don’t set a goal that you are ambivalent about; only set goals you truly want to reach.

Think Positively:

  • Word your goals in positive terms. 
  • For example, “Learn to execute smooth front crosses 90% of the time by the end of the year” is a much better goal than “Quit messing up front crosses”.


  • Make goals concrete, measurable, and within a specific timeframe.


  • Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals.

Put Them In Writing:

  • Writing them down makes you more likely to remember them.
  • Your written goals provide a good record of your success.
  • You can always modify your goals if you need to.

Be Realistic:

  • Goals set too low will not offer a sense of accomplishment.
  • Goals set too high are frustrating and demoralizing.

Break Them Down:

  • Each goal should have as many steps as necessary to help you achieve small successes.
  • Short term goals should lead to achieving long term goals
  • Each goal should have a path that will get you from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Include details in your goals, not generalities.

Review Them Frequently:

  • Remind yourself of what your goals are frequently.
  • Readjust your goals as necessary.

List The Whys:

  • Listing the reasons you want to achieve your goals makes you more likely to want to complete them.

Set Performance vs. Outcome Goals:

  • Outcomes are frequently affected by outside influences or things you can’t control like injury, illness, or event cancellations.
  • For example, if you set a goal to obtain a specific title, and your dog gets injured, you can’t attain that goal.  If you set a goal of having smooth, connected runs 90% of the time, you can obtain the goal whether you have 10 runs or 50.


  • Visualizing yourself achieving your goal helps you to attain it.
  • Visualization is a proven practice technique.
  • Trouble visualizing may indicate that you are not certain you can attain your goal.

Determine Your Needs:

  • What skills do you need?
  • What knowledge or information do you need?
  • What help do you need?
  • What resources are required?
  • What are the obstacles to achieving your goals?

I ask each of my students to give me both short-term and long-term goals.  For the newest people, their long-term is only two months, because they don’t always know if they will want to continue after the first session.  For those who I know are going to continue, I ask for 6-month goals.  I also tell them that they should have a short goal for each week and each training session, even though I don’t ask to see those.  I hope these tips will help you to think more clearly about setting goals for yourself.  You can’t get where you are going if you don’t know your destination!


April 17, 2009 - Posted by | Agility, Goals, Mental Management, Recordkeeping, Training | , , ,


  1. What a great post! I especially like the top one (own your goals). I need to write that one down.

    Comment by Morganne | April 17, 2009 | Reply

    • I used to be a smoker. I tried unsuccessfully to quit numerous times because that was my husband’s wish. It wasn’t until *I* had a good reason that I was able to do it. It is really important that your goals are there because YOU want to attain them, not because someone else wants you to.

      Comment by lorriemaxx | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. You have given me some inspiration to write some of my goals down. Thanks Lorrie!

    Comment by Julie | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  3. I think you’ve put a few things here I didn’t have before. I’ll do mine again this weekend. I try to do monthly ones anyway so it’s time. Thanks

    Comment by jgarton17 | April 18, 2009 | Reply

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