Goal Driven

goalLike I’m sure many of you will have done, I reviewed the resolutions I set myself last year. And I’m sure, like many of you, I found I hadn’t been all that resolute.  Yes, I did stick to a few of my resolutions, but quite a few were held over to 2018, longer term resolutions, if you like.

One thing I decided I must do in my quest for supreme fitness in a body that is geriatric-prone, is that I should visit my cardiologist for a check-up.

I contacted Dr Nik Isahak, who is consultant cardiologist at Subang Jaya Medical Center.  A pioneer in the sport of Endurance riding in Malaysia, Dr Nik rode in the first ever World Endurance Championship in 1998. A visit to him is a pleasant experience as we talk horses most of the time.  As I had been delinquent in my visits, he put me through the whole mill of cardio tests.

I aced the important stress test with my new and improved fitness thanks to my spinning wheels at Aloha Cycle Club. Dr Nik was well pleased with that. My celebration was premature, as my cholesterol levels, we later found, were practically off the charts. I blame Buenos Aires for all that red meat.

Dr Nik joked that I have to change religion again – I have to eat like a Hindu – I needed to go vegetarian!  Except that he wasn’t joking.  I had to bring down my cholesterol levels, or face extinction.

In the end, I negotiated for a Mediterranean diet for now, and if I succeed in controlling my cholesterol, I might not have to become fully vegetarian.

Rather than resolve to bring my cholesterol down, my sports training kicked in and I decided to set a target, a goal to aim for.  Unlike my resolutions, I regularly hit my goals, and as this one seems particularly important, I upgraded this resolution to become a goal.  I set a target of getting my cholesterol levels down to a certain point.

Goal setting is one of the most important skills taught to athletes in order to help them achieve optimal performance. The goal-setting process helps athletes understand where they are currently and also where they want to go.
~ Alan S Kornspan, Fundamentals of Sports and Exercise Pyschology.

I know I will achieve my goal, because that’s just what I do.  I set goals, I hit them.  As a St Andrew’s School old boy, my motto remains, “Up and On.”  I have done that all my life. And Dr Nik more or less told me, unless I hit this goal, I wouldn’t be having much of a life, if at all. Good incentive, I thought. Therefore, it became a goal and not just another resolution waiting to be recycled.

Any competitive rider or sportsman sets goals.  There are two types of competitive goals.

Firstly, there are Performance Goals.  These relate to your own performance.  For example, a show jumper might set a goal of jumping a clear round at a higher height class than the year before, say moving up from 1.20m to 1.30m. This is quite similar to a sprinter who might aim to better his 100m time to 10.20 secs.  If you manage to do it, you will have achieved your Performance Goal.

Outcome Goals relate to how you finished competitively.  You might have achieved your Performance Goal by jumping a clear round at 1.30 m, but still finished 4th in the class.  Using the sprinting example, you might have set a new personal best of 10.20 secs but not qualified for the finals.  If you set outcome goals, like winning the class or winning the race, you might have had a personal best performance but still end up being disappointed.

You have less control over Outcome Goals, while Performance Goals are within your control.  Which ones are more important?  Performance Goals are more about personal development, while outcome goals are generally more important to team owners, clubs, sports associations, and governments.

Why did I go for my check-up in the first place? Because I want to improve my performance.  Now that I’ve set a Performance Goal for my life, I’ve been back to all my resolutions. I have now changed all my resolutions to become goals.  I no longer have resolutions, only performance goals.

If everything goes according to plan, I’ll also achieve the outcome goal that I require.

I am much happier with this as I have something tangible to shoot for.  Up and On!

Look out life, here I come!

About Peter Abisheganaden

Polo Player, Tournament Director and Executive Secretary of the Royal Malaysian Polo Association. FIP Ambassador and FIP Tournament Director of FIP Snow Polo World Cup and Super Nations Cup. World Cup and Asian Games Showjumper. Champion SEA Games Showjumper and Eventer. FEI L3 Show Jumping Course Designer and L1 Course Presenter. Champion amateur jockey. Retailer and wholesaler of saddlery and polo equipment and Managing Director of Zack's Tack.
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