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Getting Ready for the New Year

12/17/2018, 12:45pm CST
By Suzie Riewald, USA Fencing SafeSport Coordinator

December is often a time for reflection … to reflect back on the past year in terms of major accomplishments, goals achieved, milestones reached, shortcomings and setbacks, to name a few. 

During December, it is likely that you also look forward to the year ahead and identify goals or resolutions to work towards, whether it be professional, personal, athletic, spiritual, social or emotional.

The goals you set for yourself or the New Year’s resolutions you commit to provide a vision of where you want to go or what you are working toward. Your goal could be to grow your club, improve your grades, retain more fencers, find better balance in your life or improve your referee rating. 

Well done, setting such goals is a great first step! Yes, you read it right. It is a first step as you’re not done with the goal-setting process. In this blog, we are going to discuss what else you should do to effectively set goals for the upcoming year. 

Wait, “What does this have to do with SafeSport?” you ask. 

Well …

While my primary motive is to facilitate your goal setting for the New Year, an ulterior motive is to encourage you to also identify SafeSport-related goals as an area to improve or enhance in 2019. As we look at goal-setting effectiveness, I’ll give some examples of how we can support our SafeSport mission in 2019.  

In the field of sport psychology, much research has focused on goal setting in sport. Across studies there is strong support for goal setting as a tool to facilitate performance, but you’re probably aware of that, right? What you may not be as familiar with is that research has also focused on uncovering how to set effective goals and what types of goals to set to enhance performance. While this research focused on sport performance, it has application across domains so the principles of effective goal setting have relevance for you regardless of your role in the sport of fencing. Let’s look at some of these principles:

Identify the process

Too often in goal setting, individuals focus solely on the outcome: “I want to grow the club in 2019;” “I need to lose some weight;” “I want to improve my GPA;” “I want to place top three at an RYC;” “I want parents and athletes to be aware of SafeSport Policies.” These outcome goals need to be supported by process goals that tell you want you need to DO to achieve the goals. 

While it is a worthwhile goal to increase awareness of SafeSport policies within your club, what are you going to do to make it a reality? It is not just going to happen because you want it to happen. How about committing to monthly meetings where you discuss one of the USA Fencing Proactive SafeSport Policies? Or identifying a SafeSport contact within your club who provides educational resources to parents and athletes via a monthly newsletter? The same holds true regardless of the goal or resolution. That is, it is critical to identify process goals that tell you what you need to do to achieve the outcome goal. When you write down your goals or resolutions for 2019, be sure to include the actions you need to take that will lead you to this goal.

Support your vision with short-term goals

Resolutions individuals set for themselves tend to be long-term and “lofty.” Imagine having to wait until the end of 2019 to know if you achieved your goal of growing your club, losing weight or placing in an event. Without feedback along the way telling you that you’re on the right path, it is likely that you’ll lose the motivation to pursue your goal. It is important, therefore, to set short-term goals that are stepping stones to your vision and provide success/feedback as to how you are doing.

Let’s say you want to grow your club. What are short-term goals to work on throughout the year?

  • “We will visit one school a week for the first two months of the year to introduce fencing to the students and provide information on our club.”
  • “We will partner with a local sport and offer summer classes in both to those that enroll.”
  • “We will offer incentives to current members to bring a buddy to fence during membership renewals.”

These are just a few examples of short-term goals. Accomplishment of each of these goals can provide feedback as to progress made as well as provide motivation to continue your efforts in growing your club. Think about stepping stones in your goals.

Will you know when you have achieved your goal?

As a SafeSport coordinator, one of my professional goals is to enhance the education of our membership. As a parent, one of your goals may be to be a better parent. As a coach, you may want to better teach technique to younger fencers. All lofty goals but fairly vague. 

What does it mean to “enhance” and to be “better” and how will we know if and when we have achieved these goals? Research tells us that to facilitate goal effectiveness goals should be measureable and specific. 

For me, a more effective SafeSport-related goal might be to develop and implement a curriculum for athlete education in 2019. Pretty specific, correct? And, at the end of the year I will be able to measure whether or not I’ve achieved this goal. Make sure your goals and resolutions are specific and measureable. 

Enough reading! Now, it is time to implement some of these principles into your goals and resolutions for 2019. And, don’t forget to make SafeSport a priority. 

Tag(s): SafeSport