Editor’s Note: Twice per month, CalHiSports.com will be presenting a column by Sam Johnson, the founder of My Goal Line, which lets student-athletes load up their goals onto their smart device and track their progress on a daily basis. All coaches, parents and athletes should check it out because goal-setting really works.
Research shows that establishing written goals does one thing: it increases the performance of the goal setter.
So why do most of us fail to write down our own goals? Most underestimate the power of goal-setting and few coaches know the intricacies of the goal-setting process sufficiently to teach it effectively. Very few persons even have their goals written down; even fewer have them written down correctly. In addition, almost no one looks at them on a daily basis, and only a select few have a system that allows them to set goals and see them everyday.
Top performers share a common denominator: proper goal-setting, daily goal reminders, and quarterly goal assessment.
Why does proper goal-setting enhance performance and elevate success? Above our spine, we each have a large bundle of nerves called our Reticular Activating System, or RAS. The RAS filters information before it crosses the threshhold of our mind.
If we hear a baby cry, or RAS encounters the particular sound, it recognizes the connection to the child and conveys this message to the nervous system: “This sound is important; act upon it.”
When we see a red light in front of us, our RAS again conveys this message:”This is important – stop the car.”
On the other hand, while traveling in traffic, surrounded by the din of the hundreds of cars and semi-trucks around us, our RAS conveys this message: “Pay little attention to the sound- it’s not important.”
The RAS is in charge of filtering out what is IMPORTANT from what is NOT IMPORTANT to the information we take in through our senses.
What does this have to do with goals and how goals that are written down differ from those we have only in our thoughts? When you look at something every day, your RAS begins to place importance on it.
Do you have a desire to get a 4.0 GPA? Do you think about it sporadically? You may or may not advance towards its accomplishment. But, if you have the same goal – written down – and you look at that written goal every day, your RAS elevates its importance and when it allows the information to cross the threshold of your mind, it announces: “This is important, act on it, make good use of time today and study.”
Your RAS puts your unconscious mind to work for you to help you accomplish your goals. Yes, this is the truth! You have an ally on the unconscious level that helps you accomplish your goals as long as you look at them every day. And yet, with all of this available power, most of the world, perhaps 80 percent, jot down a little more than a grocery list once a week.