Set Goals Like an Olympian

Nov 12, 2019

I recently had the opportunity to talk to two time Olympian and Run Gum CEO, Nick Symmonds. Nick is an incredible leader and has an inspirational quality in the way he pursues his goals both as an athlete and as a goal-oriented businessman. What I found most compelling about Nick’s story was his commitment to follow through on his goals, even when the odds were stacked against him…which they were…a lot. 

He grew up on a small farm in Idaho and wasn’t even recruited by a single university for his running ability. Later in college, when you discovered a true passion for the sport, he decided to really push himself to train for the 2008 Olympics. After establishing this lofty goal for himself, he set out to make his dream a reality – which he ultimately accomplished.  

Unfortunately, we aren’t all Olympians. But I believe Nick’s example can teach us a lot about setting goals in our own careers. So let’s break down this idea of goal setting a little bit more. 

Your Focus

A big part of what you are going to accomplish in your life has to do with what you are focused on, whether consciously or subconsciously. Make sure the way you’re setting goals and allocating your time is congruent with the things you wish to achieve. This seems self-explanatory, but how much of our time do we spend doing things that will not benefit us or our goals?

By all means, take time to relax and do something you love. But don’t let your focus stray from the goal that you have in mind. 

I have found that goal-setting can be simplified greatly when we write out what we hope to achieve. This can be big picture or on a day-to-day basis. Give yourself a deadline with specifics of what you want your finished goal to look like and the steps to achieve that goal. 

Remind Yourself

In all that you do, remind yourself of the goals you wish to achieve. Put it on a sticky note, repeat it in your head, get someone else to remind you. Whatever you have to do to keep it in the forefront of your mind. 

This might come easy at first, but some goals take a while to achieve. Don’t let a delay in seeing your goal come to fruition result in self doubt. Nick referred to self doubt as one of the most toxic emotions we can experience. 

As you remind yourself of your goal, also remind yourself of your ability and potential. If you find it difficult to do that, surround yourself with people who are going to speak life to you. This is so important, because achieving your goals will not always going to be easy.

Small Steps

If you have lofty goals (which you should!), chances are, it will take a while to reach them. One practical way to keep from getting discouraged on the road to your goals is taking it in small steps. 

Nick described this as having the right trajectory. While training for the Olympics, Nick didn’t immediately see the end results he wanted within the first few weeks of training. No one does. It takes time and continual effort to get consistently better. What he did see was continual improvement toward his final goal.

Even if it takes a long time to get to the goal itself, be sure you are on the right trajectory. Taking steps in the right direction, even if they’re small steps, will result in a win over time.

Reaching your goal is going to take time. Have patience with yourself, and keep pushing forward when you want to give up. Take practical steps in the right direction and set attainable yet challenging goals for yourself. 

You’re the only one who can set the objectives and put in the hard work necessary to see the specific end result you desire. So don’t be afraid to give it your all, push through failure, and set Olympic size goals. 

For more on this topic, listen to the Created for Experience podcast – “Going All In” featuring Nick Symmonds.

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