The Art of Setting “Clear” Goals

Have you set goals for yourself as an instructor?

Before you do, you might want to read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and/or listen to Brene Brown’s interview with him on her awesome Spotify podcast called Dare to Lead – I loved it!

Why? Clear offers a reframe for achieving what you want that instantly resonated with me:

1) focus on systems – the processes you need to put in place that lead to results,

2) those systems result in sustainable change whereas goals are simply a point-in-time achievement (I met my goal, now what?); and

3) how habits shape your identity.

For example, if you would like to become a more technically knowledgeable instructor, your goal might be stated as I want to be a more technical instructor and your outcome statement might be I am a technically proficient instructor or I have deep technical knowledge of the science of cycling.

To achieve that outcome, you would change your daily habits (systems) to implement a routine to achieve the knowledge and acumen necessary. But there’s another aspect that Clear offers – the one I found most intriguing – you would change your self-image, your beliefs and judgments about yourself and others to achieve a lasting transformation.

I’ve always been a goal and process-oriented person so the first two steps are second nature to me. But that last piece? That gets into some powerful stuff!

In our technical instructor example, maybe you say things to yourself like: I’m not good at science. I can’t remember details. I get bored with technical stuff. I don’t like classes where instructors talk about the science of cycling. And maybe all of that is based in some truth. But what if you reframed your thinking and asked yourself: What behaviors would an instructor with deep knowledge of the science of cycling engage in and what would my class look like using my style combined with a deep knowledge of cycling science? Now those are interesting questions!

The answers can lead to new processes, small changes in your habits and routines – your atomic habits. Those routines and behaviors then alter and reinforce your identity. In a nutshell, you are your habits.

For example, an instructor who has deep knowledge of cycling science probably has developed habits that include proactively going to credible cycling sites to read relevant articles, attending seminars, and taking classes. They might then imagine how they could apply what they’ve learned to their cycling classes, jot down thoughts in a notebook, and use those notes for coaching tips or a future class structure. Does it mean that instructor is “good” at science, or “good” with details? No. It simply means they’ve formed habits that keep them informed, organized, and positioned for action. Habits any of us can adopt!

The book Atomic Habits is a great resource to kick-start 2022. Whether you have specific goals for expanding your instructor toolkit or enhancing your life off the bike, my guess is this book can help you get there. If you do read it, or just want to share your thoughts about where you’d like to take your instructor skills in 2022, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

Stay Awesome!

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