How Goals Are Different Than Expectations

As an athlete, setting goals is everything.  I’ll admit I didn’t used to like setting goals. Setting goals caused me to put a huge amount of pressure on myself, which led to poor results at important races and almost made me lose my love for the sport of ski racing.  Sharing goals with my coaches at our annual pre-season goal meeting was the worse for my mental strength.  I was under the impression that if I told other people my aspirations, they too would place the same looming expectations on me, and be disappointed if I failed.  I knew that setting goals was unhealthy for me, and about five years ago, I stopped setting them all together.

Two years ago, I faced my fear of goal setting.  I knew that if I changed my approach to the goal-setting process, I could use it to my advantage.  In doing so, I realized this: goals and expectations are very different, but I was treating them as the same.  A goal is something to shoot for. If your goal goes unaccomplished, it should not have a negative impact on your mentality.  Goals are something you plan for, step by step, so that you are always moving in the right direction.  Expectations, on the other hand, are more emotionally charged than goals and can have a far more negative impact when not met.  For example, if you go into a competition and simply expect yourself to win, losing could be devastating and winning probably won’t be very satisfying.

Now, I carry this philosophy into everything I do.  I never expect training to be easy, never expect to do well in races, never expect everything to work out the way I want it to.  Instead, I set my goals and trust in the plan that I build to accomplish them.  Each goal you set comes with a step-by-step process to get there.  If you work hard at every step of the way, using your ultimate goals to motivate you, you can achieve anything and be even happier for all the things you’ve accomplished along the way.

-Alice Merryweather

Alice and Goals
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