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”.

Quantify:

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

Prioritize:

  • 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.

Visualize:

  • 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!

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April 17, 2009 Posted by | Agility, Goals, Mental Management, Recordkeeping, Training | , , , | 4 Comments