I believe that goal setting and mental attitude or sport psychology are often the most overlooked elements of any athlete’s preparation. Without a proper plan, what can really be accomplished? Without the right attitude, what can get done? The answer to both questions is not much.

Try saving a million dollars for retirement without a financial plan. It won’t happen! Why do people think that they can squat a 1000 lbs, run a 4.4 second 40, or jump a vertical 40 inches without a plan? Now try reaching the same goals without a great attitude. It won’t happen! The point is that a solid plan and a positive attitude are necessities for any great accomplishment, and I’m going to try and give you some ideas for both.

First, let’s talk about coming up with a game plan or setting goals. I watched a seminar with Lou Holtz, the famous former football coach at Notre Dame, several years ago in Denver, Colorado, and I was absolutely blown off my feet by what an amazing man he was. He told the story of being fired from his blue collar job several years before becoming the coach at Notre Dame. He explained that instead of going to the bar and crying in his beer, he locked himself in a room and proceeded to write down over 100 dreams that he wanted to accomplish. One of the dreams was to be the head coach at Notre Dame.

Now, this guy was some little, non-athletic, Irish guy with a lisp and no real coaching experience. Can you imagine what his friends and family must have said to him? Probably something like, “Lou, you are crazy! Go get a job man!” The thing is that he didn’t just dream it. He wrote each dream down, bringing them to life and making them goals. Then he formulated a plan for each and every goal. Next, he committed himself to reaching each goal one at a time. Finally, he continued to remind himself of each goal by placing notes all over his home with the specific goals that he was currently concentrating on. At the time, which was about ten years ago, he had reached over 90 of the dreams! Wow!

It just goes to show that anything is possible from anyone. I have made it a policy to never discourage anyone from their dreams no matter how outrageous. I never want to be one of the people who discouraged others from having big dreams. Anyone who has ever done anything out of the ordinary has had to endure friends and family with negative comments. How many times have athletes heard, “Just get a real job!” or “Come on, do you really believe that you can make it?” Lord knows I have! Imagine if everyone listened to these people. There would be no artists, no presidents, no Bill Gates, or anyone out of the ordinary. The world would be filled with people who just have some job. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with just having a job. I’m just saying that there is also nothing wrong with people striving for more. To recap, goal setting consists of the following elements:

·        Dream it

·        Write it down and make it a goal

·        Formulate a plan of action

·        Commit yourself

·        Continually motivate yourself

Mental attitude, or what I call “command performance psychology,” goes hand in hand with goal setting. Sports psychology can be broken down into a five-part revolving door—a belief system, a paradigm, attitude, actions, and outcome. The belief system is the set of beliefs that each person has come to have due to their own experiences and influences like parents, friends, and life experiences (divorce, deaths). Their paradigm is their personal view of reality.

Normally, from the beliefs that each person has, a certain view of reality is established. If the individual’s parents are negative, then the person probably doesn’t have a very good paradigm. However, that doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way. People can change their paradigm anytime that they decide to do so. The biggest difference between an NFL superstar and some great athlete sitting on the couch watching the superstar is that one person believed that they could be in the NFL. Michael Jordan didn’t become the greatest basketball player in history by accident. He believed that he could be and worked hard to make it happen.

Next comes having a great attitude. Attitude has to come before actions because if someone has a poor attitude then the greatest plan in the world will fail. A person has to commit themselves and go about each day with the mindset that nothing will stand in the way of reaching their goals.  Then a person can formulate a plan and put forth “action.”

A great plan with the proper attitude will yield the “result” that each individual sets out to accomplish. The result will alter the person’s beliefs in a positive way and once again change the paradigm. The whole circle begins again. I love the concept!

The question is, “When will you decide to take charge of your life and alter your paradigm?”