“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.” ~ Orison Swett Marden
I know, I know…goal setting – we all realise we should do it but its hard right?
Well, it doesn’t have to be and we’ll show you how…
For many agility handlers this next scenario is not too far from the truth…
…Friday comes and that usually means one thing – it’s time to put our dogs in the van, gather leads and toys, hitch up the caravan and head on out to whatever the next big competition is.
Friday night is spent trying to stake our claim in some random field in complete darkness.
Saturday Sunday come, doesn’t matter if its wind, rain or shine we’ll be out with our dogs, both of us trying our hearts out to do our very best for each other.
Pack up Sunday for the journey home – and all set to do it again in another 5 days time.
You see we all spend a lot of time, money and energy each and every time we step out the door on the way to an agility competition.
Sure, we do it because we love it – the reinforcement of spending time with our dogs doing something we both enjoy alone is worth it all. But…
Wouldn’t it be a whole lot better if we did it with a purpose – a goal in mind.
The thing is it doesn’t matter if you’re an agility pro, a casual handler or anything in between, if we don’t set a goal we are doing both us and our dogs a disservice, without goals we don’t have a guide, or a path – it is hard to reach your teams true potential.
And that, for us is not cool – we want each and every agility team to get to places they only ever dreamed of.
So we set about trying to lay out some simple steps we can all do to make goal setting something so easy you’ll love doing it.
When you lay goals out and plan for them a kind of domino effect takes place – start with something small and set it in motion over time you’ll have something so big you can move mountains
Here it is….
Dogtrackr’s Quick Guide To Goal Setting
Before we start, we have a little challenge…can you spot dog training concept within the steps? We’ll let know at the end 🙂
1. The BIG Goal – What is it YOU most want? It’s all about the dream you have for you and your dog.
The important word here is YOU, it’s your goal…so you must be the one who decides it and owns it, not your friends or your trainers.
If their suggestions align with yours then great…but if you’re not that bothered about the goals they have for you then you’re not going to do it.
Motivation to achieve goals almost always comes from within!
So, step one…decide what it is you want to achieve with your dog.
This could be to reach a higher level in the organisation that you compete in or qualify for a certain final that you’ve alway wanted to be apart of.
Try to be specific here – you don’t want to compete in any final…it has to be this final.
Things become a lot trickier when you are going after multiple things. I’m sure you’ve heard about the man who chases 2 rabbits…he catches neither.
But seriously, when you start to concentrate on just one thing you’ll be amazed at what else seems to come your way.
2. Know What It Takes – Explore what it is you will need to do to achieve the BIG goal.
Now we have the goal we may need to find out and plan ahead the things we need to do to succeed.
For example if your goal is a progression based goal and you want to be at a certain level in an organisation then you will need to know exactly the criteria thats set out to reach that level.
Do you need X amount of points to reach that level and if so are there a certain number of points you need in specific courses (Agility, Jumping or Games).
Or do you need to win a set amount of classes to move up, again, which classes.
Maybe you set a goal to get to that elusive final you’ve alway dreamed of competing in. What do you need to know about getting to that final? Do you know where all the qualifying heats are and if the answer is yes are you going to that competition…you’d better – achieving that goal just got a lot harder if you don’t.
I’ve known people who would travel hundreds of miles to compete in qualifier heats – why?, because that goal is their BIG goal and it’s important to them.
3. Mark Your Calendar – Now that you have your BIG goal and you know what the criteria and logistics are to give yourself the best possible shot at achieving it you’ll want to set a date.
Just like when you write a list amazing things can happen when you give yourself a target date to work towards – you start to get stuff done! You’ve put a date to it, it’s now in black and white on your calendar or in your diary…it must be real.
You may also want to tell your friends, family (if they even know what agility is all about :-), or trainer your goal if by telling them you think you’ll be more committed to it. Or if it gives you more power to keep it to yourself, do that – it’s all good.
Either way, putting a date on it will instantly increase your commitment and in turn your chances of achieving it.
4. Start Small – The end of this strategy is where it really begins.
You have your BIG goal, you know the logistics of how to achieve it and you have a date you want to get it done by.
Now you need to identify the small yet doable steps needed to reach your goal.
Luckily, identifying this is actually the easy bit…to do well in this sport you have to go clear in your runs.
Easier said than done right? – Well…yes but what we CAN start to do if you are not going clear as much as you’d like is to start evaluating the areas that you and your dog are excelling in currently and also the areas that seem to be slowing your progress down.
Once we know, we can act!
Start to take small steps towards our goals by tailoring our training plans to suit the areas in competition that need our attention most rather than just going with the flow like so many other competitors do…
…We seem to get stuck in a cycle of unknowingly training the things that we like to train or we get to class each week and practice with our dogs what our trainer wants us to practice according to their training plan for the whole class.
To reach our goals we need a crystal clear picture of where our dogs currently are in the skill areas that matter most.
So, let’s say your dog nails every contact but is a serial pole knocker or hits every weave entry but steals the odd tunnel and gets eliminated.
These are the things we need to know so that we can focus our limited training time on improving the areas that need it most.
How do we easily get hold of this info in a way that is accurate…
…we track it in an objective way and we track it over a series of runs, if we do then the picture becomes clearer each time.
Our goal becomes easier each time.
1. The BIG Goal – It has to be your goal and you want to be specific.
2. Know what it takes – Consider all the things you will need to know to achieve your goal.
3. Mark your calendar – Amazing things will happen!
4. Start Small – Try to identify the areas in competition where your dog is excelling (this is very important too) and also the areas that are need a little work. Then tailor your training to suit – small doable steps, you can’t tackle it all at once.
There it is, our quick guide to setting your BIG goal and achieving it.
What is your BIG goal in agility?….leave us a comment below letting us know what it is and a target date you have set for yourself.
We’d love to hear from you…
Oh, and before we forget…did you notice the dog training concept in action here? how the goal setting strategy is a lot like back chaining in dog training, starting with the end in mind.