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Passion, Perseverence, and Singular Goals

Every two years we have the opportunity to be inspired by stories of passion, perseverance and dreams of Olympic gold-and this year in Sochi is no different. The media tries to help spin those stories, but sometimes they get it wrong. Every athlete has a unique story to tell, but all seem to share a passion and perseverance for what sometimes seems to be a dream of achieving the impossible-an Olympic medal.  Yet to us mortals, they have already achieved the impossible-earning a spot on an Olympic team, representing their country in the Olympic Games.

What sets those athletes apart from us? How are they able to achieve their goals? This week I learned about the importance of focusing on a singular goal, rather than trying to accomplish a laundry list of goals at once.

It is important to note that when 2014 started, my goals were all over the place:

  • I wanted to run 14 races in 2014;
  • I wanted to get faster and stronger
  • I wanted to lose 4 lbs

“Faster at what? And stronger at what?” My trainer asked.  I had no idea. After some prodding and thinking, I decided I really want to be able to run an 8 minute mile-just 1 to start, and to improve my half marathon time and to be able to run a sub 2 hour half marathon. Once I decided what my goal was, my training and singular focus began.

Sound easy? Not so easy. What I failed to understand is that it really is impossible to build muscle, get faster, and lose weight all at the same time. After 7 weeks, I began doubting my training and my goal. Here was the first lesson: PERSEVERANCE. As I watched Meryl Davis and Charlie White perform their Ice Dance free skate-the culmination of 16 years of skating, practicing, working toward their goal-I wondered if I could stick to my goal for 11 months.

“What is your goal? If your goal is to lose weight, you will not be able to run a half marathon and feel strong. If your goal is to lift heavier weights, the first thing I am going to tell you is to gain weight. What is your goal?” (GOAL: SINGULAR)

THAT was an eye opener. Your training depends on your goal. Of course!

But there is something else to consider;  when you focus on one goal, you will likely regress or diminish your capacity to improve in areas of fitness that are not somehow necessary in the accomplishment of your goal. That is what happens when you are truly focused on a singular goal.

Here are some helpful tips on staying focused on a singular goal:

1. Reaffirm your goal(s) on a regular basis to help stay focused: is this what I really want to be doing? Do I still have the passion?

2. Stick to your goal; if you are training for a specific goal, you will need to stick with it long enough to see results, and this could take months. In the case of Olympians, it takes years. Can you persevere?

3. Focus on one goal at a time-really focus. It may seem impossible, but that is what sets Olympians apart from the rest of us. Focus on a singular goal.

I started wondering about this principal in the classroom. Although as educators we must help students acomplish their unique goals, is it possible or practical to focus only on one goal at a time? Are we trying to focus on improvement in too many things? With a little more thought and creativity is it possible to choose goals that will improve the ability to learn rather than improve a specific skill set or task?

I would love to know your thoughts.



classroom lessonseducationgoalslearnerLearningpassionperseverencerunningteaching

Cathy Brophy • February 22, 2014

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