Have a Focus Plan

The period of time between Christmas and New Year’s is naturally a reflective time of year.  Priorities begin to jostle for dominance as we begin to let go of the past and begin the process of looking forward to what the new year will hold.  Don’t get too hung up on analyzing the past.  There’s a certain point where it no longer does any good, and you have to grab hold of the positive things the future holds.

Goals are for Things That Take Time

You’ve heard the importance of setting goals before.  But think about this.  We set goals for things that take time.  Otherwise, why bother?  Not setting goals because they take too long is like a man who says, “I should plant a tree, but it will be so little and take so long to grow”.  So he doesn’t do it.  Every year he says the same thing, until 10 years later he realizes that if he had just planted a tree when he first thought of it, he’d be sitting under it and enjoying the shade today!

Begin With End in Mind

Assuming that you already have gotten in touch with your goals (which is another whole subject in itself which we’ll leave for another time), how can we make sure that we actually keep them?  This is the hard part of course.  There are so many resources available on goal setting, and I’ve read and failed at so many.  But there is one tip that I’d like to share with you that I have found to be highly inspirational in the difficult process of writing down (and sticking to) goals.  And that is, begin with the end in mind.  You can also call it the “Top-Down” Approach.  Meaning, by committing yourself to the end first, through some creative (and even costly ways), you “lock down” your goals and root them into your future, even before you work out the process to get there!   Let me explain.

Let’s say that one of your goals is to see your dog flawlessly run 12 poles for the first springtime competition that rolls around.  Well, you can just keep the goal in your head, and “hope” that you achieve success.  But here’s how to really be a winner.  Send in your registration for the event NOW!  Not a minute later.  Then plan all the details of the event, including emailing a babysitter, telling your husband, or inviting a friend to go with you!  Bringing others into the goal (for accountability) will lock in the success of your goal BIG time.  Everyone is different though.  Choose those things that is hightly motivating to you.  You may want to choose an out-of-town trial you’ve always wanted to go to and make it really special by reserving a hotel nearby (if that floats your boat. I personally love overnight trips).  The good thing about hotel reservations is you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance without penalty (which you should only do if you get sick of course, not because you forgot about your goal!).

There are so many similar ideas you can use to “set” your goal into the future.  Here are a few more:

  • Schedule a party to celebrate an agility title you intend to achieve. Make it a dog party or a people party: whatever you would enjoy most.  Buy invitations and fill them out ahead.
  • Write a newspaper announcement or invitation, and send it in. Don’t forget your pre-payment too! Even if it is weeks in advance, they’ll hold it for your scheduled date.
  • Plan a night out Or a day off.  Let your employer know what you are going to do.  Make it all about a celebration for you, doing whatever it is that you would find highly enjoyable, and plan every detail with anticipation.  Make sure it relates to your goal.  It has to be connected somehow.
  • Ask your agility trainer to call you or email you for updates on your progress in a certain area.  Tell him or her that you want to perfect your contact training, for example, and ask if they would review your reliability in a proofing-test on a certain date.
  • If you find it hard to schedule the completion of your goal for some reason, try the exercise of writing your goal in the past tense, as if it has already been accomplished.   Write about how good you feel, and how much better your dog is doing, and the types of things you look forward to doing next.  Write about the pitfalls that occurred along the way and the strategies you used to overcome them and accomplish your goal.  Doing this exercise may also help in thinking of other ways you can “lock down” your goal.

It may seem like it’s too early or risky to commit to a deadline or celebration event, but the more prep work you do ahead, the higher the chance is that you will stick to the goal!  It’s quite scary, I know.  I liken the motivation of this top-down method to a wedding.  While I haven’t yet experienced it, I can’t imagine that I would set a date and invite my guests and not be ready for it when the time came!  I would be ready in a thousand ways, not only because I would be looking forward to it, but also because it would be a date that many people would know about and I would have imagined every detail in advance for my happiness, and the happiness of everyone who would be rejoicing with me.

Next Steps

After you have deeply committed to your goal, you can then break it down into smaller, more easily obtainable goals. For example, if you want to learn 12 weaves by a certain date, make the smaller goal to learn 6, and plan your strategies to do this. Maybe something you need to do is get Susan Garrett’s DVD “12 poles in 12 days, or get a VersaWeave training set (that will turn into a competition set when you reach your goal..bonus!).   You can even apply the same “top-down” principle (setting a date/event) to your smaller goals as well if needed.

I hope some of these ideas spark some ideas for you!  Goal setting is hard work, but if you can actually see them in your future and work from the top down, then the hardest work is already done!  Actually doing what you set out to do becomes a lot easier when you are really committed to something.

~By Pamela Spock

Also read:  Discover Your Purpose: Get in touch with the deeper meaning of agility and harness it for your success!

2 Comments on “Have a Focus Plan

  1. Hi there

    I see you’ve stolen an image from my web site. Any chance you can replace it with something else?


    On The Scent.

    • I’m terribly sorry about that – it has been replaced and your file will be deleted so we won’t use it again. Please accept my sincerest apologies!