Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France bicycle race, became a successful professional triathlete—accomplished in biking, running and swimming—when he was only 16 years old. Lance has always said that he is a firm believer in setting goals—big long-term goals and small short-term goals. Then it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to cross the finish line, and reach those goals, time after time. For more information on goal setting, read Beverly Bachel's What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go For It: A Guide for Teens.
The Goal-Setter's Guide:
1. DEFINE YOUR DIRECTION: Getting what you want requires hard work, but also a strategy. Visualize and even write down the things you want, whether it is something as short-term as completing the night's algebra assignment or as long-term as getting into an Ivy-league college. Without having a sense of where you're headed, you might end up in a place where you don't want to be.
2. NOT TOO AMBITIOUS: A goal doesn't have to be something that in-your-face. Maybe you want to get along better with your little sister or find ways to de-stress before a big exam. Whatever the case, try not to set goals that are totally unrealistic. Chances are you'll not achieve them—and then you'll only end up feeling defeated.
3. PLAN YOUR COURSE: After you figure out what you want, make an outline of what it will take for you to achieve those goals. Write out the specific ways to go about getting what you want. And then tell someone. Discussing your goals with your support network—like Mom and Dad, friends or your teacher—will help make them more of a reality.
4. JUST DO IT: Tackle the tasks at-hand. So much of achieving goals requires that you just show up and do the work. And when you reach that point where you feel it's all work and no play, then reward yourself. We all love a little treat once and a while, and it helps us to stay focused.
5. THE PERFECTION MYTH: Nobody's perfect. You may not succeed at every step along your goal path. Sometimes life just gets in the way. Don't let one slip-up defeat you entirely. Perhaps you need to revise your course a bit or switch a short-term goal to something more long-term. Also, your interests and desires may change. Make the necessary adjustments and keep pushing forward. Inspect your plan frequently and closely—it's an insurance policy on your success.