Using your GPS

15 Nov, 2016

Jeremiah Chapman CSCS, SCCC, Pn-1

Suppose you were asked to drive from Dallas, Texas to Los Angeles, California. Before navigation systems this would have taken a little more time but you could have used a map to plan your route and made it just fine. Nowadays, thanks to technology, you can pick up your phone, tell it your destination, and be in sunny LA in a little over 20 hours.  

We routinely use our GPS to guide us and for most people it has become so integrated in our lives that we would feel lost with it. However, when planning for our own future, we put little thought into where we want to go and far less into the process that it will take for us to arrive.  

As an athlete you probably have dreams of what you would like to accomplish but without any thought or guidance those will stay dreams. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich famously stated, “A goal is a dream with a deadline”. Properly setting goals and having a plan in place to achieve them will give you a roadmap to your future success. Use the GPS process below to help you develop a clear path towards your dream destination.


Properly set goals should challenge your current ability levels and force you to reach just outside of your comfort zone.  Goals that are too challenging will lead to frustration and anxiety and unchallenging goals will ultimately lead to boredom.  Goals that stretch you to become more will continually challenge you keep you engaged until you have successfully achieved them.  In his book Wooden, Coach John Wooden described his goal setting process as being a realistic optimist. “I believe one of my strengths is my ability to keep negative thoughts out. I am an optimist. I believe this results from the fact that I set realistic goals—ones that are difficult to achieve, but within reach. You might say I’m a realistic optimist. Goals should be difficult to achieve because those achieved with little effort are seldom appreciated, give little personal satisfaction, and are often not very worthwhile. However, if you set goals that are so idealistic there’s no possibility of reaching them, you will eventually become discouraged and quit. They become counter-productive. Be a realistic optimist.” Just like the fable of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you want to be somewhere in the middle to continually see progress and experience the most from your goal setting.


Now that you have a destination in mind, begin working backwards to determine the route necessary for you to arrive at that point. These steps will be your guiding compass as you embark on the journey to reach your goals. Just as you would listen to turn-by-turn navigation while using a GPS, these steps become your focus as you continue to work towards your goal. By focusing your attention on the process and not the end goal, you can successfully navigate each turn and not lose site of the path you must take to get there. Here is more guidance from Coach Wooden, “I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece. Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control. You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece. You have control over that.”  You can’t control the obstacles that get in your way, but you will be able to navigate them successfully if you stick to the process. Follow the-turn by-turn directions and you will eventually arrive at the destination.


The last step in reaching your goal is to come up with a schedule for when you want to accomplish the objective. You wouldn’t plan a vacation without setting an arrival and departure date for the trip. Setting targets to reach certain points in the process are crucial for you to avoid procrastination and continue to work towards your end destination. Without a deadline you will suffer from Parkinson’s Law which concludes, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. When you do not have an end date in mind you will find other activities to fill your time and neglect things that must be done. We have all done this time and time again.  Think back to the last big project or final you had.  If you are like most of the population, you waited until the night before to cram or finally finish the project. Avoid Parkinson’s Law and set a timeline for your goals and take action on them now!

With the GPS system now in place, take action and invest 30 minutes of your time into your future self. Start with an academic goal, athletic goal, social and spiritual goal. Map out your 3, 6, and 12-month plan for each.  With these new goals in place and a process of how to attain them, set a schedule and get to work. 

Remember it is the start that stops most people. As Master Yoda would say, “do or do not, there is no try.” Get started and go do! When you encounter a road block or obstacle in your way (which will happen), find the quickest detour and get back on your original route as soon as possible. Get in your car, use your GPS, and DRIVE!