The process of being an Olympian
How do you go about racing the 2018 Olympics in Peyong Chang Korea?
For most athletes, racing in the Olympics starts as a dream. Competing in the Olympics is a huge overwhelming goal that you are never quite sure if you will be able to accomplish. There are so many steps, paths and a lot of hard work on the way to representing your country at the highest level of sport, where do you even start?
Meet SMART goals! Or as I like to think of them: the road map to your dreams!
My goal for this winter is to compete in giant slalom and slalom in the 2018 Olympics in Korea. Although this is a nice goal, it doesn’t give me many actionable steps to get there… so underneath my big (scary), overarching, outcome oriented goal, I make process oriented SMART goals that give me a to-do-list toward the Olympics.
For example, one of my goals for the Western Region prep camp in October was to strengthen my core muscles so that I would be able to keep my upper body more level and square on my right foot turns. To make sure I achieved this goal, I made a process oriented goal to do ten-core exercises every day for one minute each, with no breaks in between exercises. This way it was really obvious if I achieved my goal or not: did I do my daily core workouts, or did I skip a few?
Cody Marshall (co-founder of Groundswell Athletics) came to the Western Region’s October prep camp in Europe to coach and help athletes refine their goals for the upcoming season. The more specific your goals, the more measurable they are and the more likely you are to check them off your to-do-list. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym:
Accountable: who is responsible?
Cody’s SMART goal presentations at Western Region’s camp explained that there are two types of goals that work hand in hand: over-arching outcome goals and process oriented goals. Process-oriented goals are the “map” to achieving your outcome goals.
An Olympic ski racer needs to manage so many things: equipment, dryland, on-snow training and the logistics and funding to make it all happen! Where to even start can be overwhelming!
I start by making my over-arching goals for the season, i.e. to compete in giant slalom and slalom in the 2018 Olympics in Korea. Then, I make process oriented goals for each camp or trip. These goals are about everything from on-snow training, dryland, or school work and they help me stay focused on what is important to give myself the best shot at achieving my over-arching goal for the season.
Seems obvious right? But many athletes, and people in general, don’t make effective goals. I have found that using the SMART goal approach and focusing on the process has dramatically increased my chances of accomplishing my goals.
It is intimidating to say to the world, “I am committing my life to qualifying for the 2018 Olympics”. But, if you set goals smartly, you can stand in the start gate of every race knowing that you are ready and prepared to give it your best shot. If you don’t accomplish you big, scary, overarching SMART goal? Readjust! The journey of ski racing (and life) is a continual process that is always evolving. SMART goals are your tool to help you along your path and should be evolved and updated as you learn and grow!
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!
By Megan McJames
Independent World Cup athlete for the United States