Goal setting is one of the strongest ways to motivate ourselves, yet if done improperly can completely undo any progress desired. Learning how to realize, set, achieve and continue achieving goals set out for yourself proves to be a strong ally in life and league. Properly implementing this technique is important enough that I will be breaking this segment down into three separate parts: realizing your goals, executing your goals and continuing your progress.
Realizing Your Goals
As I have stressed before, the basis for improvement in anything is sound fundamentals. The most basic start of goal setting is to realize your goals. While this sounds fairly straightforward, properly evaluating the what and why of a goal determines how successful you will be. The primary reason goals fail is improperly realizing what you want, so setting great goals and milestones for yourself starts with some thought.
Finding What you Want
Seems like an easy first step. What is it that you want? Get some ideas together of what you would like and then refine them. Saying something as vague as “I want to be smarter” or “I want to be better at League of Legends” does you no good. You must be able to measure what it is you’re looking to achieve or the line can be blurred enough to discourage yourself from accomplishing the goal. If you want to be smarter, try something like “I want to go back to college and get a Master’s” and for League maybe “I would like to be 1800 ELO.” These goals are far more clear cut and indicate something to actually work towards instead of a vague concept.
Finding Why you Want
This is the most crucial step and requires a lot of thought and analysis of yourself. A strong motivator and reason is the only way to continually achieve and push towards your goal. You can have set backs, hardship, physical and/or mental pain and a lot of doubts along the way. When faced with a wall of opposition, “it would be nice” tends to fizzle out. Dive deep and find that source of inspiration, grab ahold of it and then find ways to harness that.
Let’s take a look at the League of Legends example. Your first thoughts are “Hey, I want to get better.” Naturally, you can say “Well, I want to be 1800 Elo, I’m currently 1400” because it’s a relatively effective indicator of skill. So now I challenge you with the question of why? Why do you want to be 1800 Elo? You must be able to produce a great answer to this or you’ve already failed. Do you want it because you feel others will respect you more? Do you feel that you should have that level of competency after playing so long? How about proving someone wrong who thinks you’re bad, that’s a good one, right?
The why part needs to be properly dissected to find out your true intentions. Let’s say you wanted to lose some weight. Well why do you want to lose the weight? Are you looking to be slimmer in order to attract a new girlfriend? Perhaps then some confidence boosting, a change in hygeine habits or simply going out more often can also help that problem. Do you want to be healthier? Well a change in eating and sleeping habits is an easy way to accomplish that, and leaks over into losing weight as well. Do you want to look like the dudes on the magazine covers or Bradley Cooper? Well here a red flag might fly up, because you have to figure out why you want that. If you feel that society and women want that, a new approach needs to be taken. Trying to lose weight because you feel you should be a six pack carrying, rugged god is an awful reason.
Careful thought and digging into why you want to have whatever it is you want is required. This is because often times a lot of thought is put into the image behind what you’d like and less time into what you’re actually after. You might think losing weight means that women will throw themselves at you. You’re a real person and know that isn’t true, but some small part of your brain translates more attention to being swooned over. Getting a higher Elo won’t mean that people start to bow down to you as king player. You might get some “wow, nice rank,” from your friends, but if you’re looking for compliments, gaining 400 Elo isn’t the way to get them. This part is so important, so please, please stop and critically think about why you want your goal and what you think will come of it.
Determining if it’s Realistic
Determining if your goal is attainable dictates the success you’ll have. It’s pretty easy to set the bar really high, and not just hyperbole such as “My goal is to be on M5 as their jungler!” That example is obviously exaggerated, it relies on too many factors to really be a goal, more of an inspiration or dream. It would require their jungler leaving and you being randomly selected, not to mention the fact you might not live in Europe to play with them anyway.
However, even more tame goals can be unrealistic in a small enough time frame. Saying you’d like to be 2000 Elo when you’re only 1200 after hundreds of games played is not realistic. While you’ll be able to get there with enough work, setting your sights that high is really just a deterrent. What will likely happen is that fifty games later you’re 1350 Elo, working hard and then sit back and realize you’re still 650 away! Just like if you wanted to lose twenty pounds in a week, putting yourself to a really high standard isn’t a safe way to accomplish anything. The only thing an unrealistic goal proves to do is demotivate, so keep it within reason.
Determine the Worth
Any attempts to reach a goal requires change. You cannot do the same thing you’ve been doing and somehow, magically achieve what you want. No sense of entitlement will grant you skill at something you haven’t practiced or trained. With change comes a sacrifice, sometimes good and sometimes bad. You must find what you’re sacrificing and determine if it’s actually worth it. If you’re losing weight, maybe you’re sacrificing late nights, parties, good-but-bad food, alcohol or time. Is not going out with your friends a few nights a week and getting loaded worth looking better to you? Is having an hour or more less per day because you want to exercise worth getting in shape for you?
Wrapping it Together
I’m going to put out and walk you through one of my more recents goal setting thoughts. My goal was to work for Riot. I wanted to work in a place where everyone was passionate and enthusiastic, talked about games all day and were generally just laid back. Add to this the prestige of the huge up and coming company and adoration of millions of fans and why wouldn’t you want to work there? So my goal was refined into being a content producer for Riot. I already write articles, make videos, create guides, provide commentary on matches, mentor other players and help other content creators refine their stuff. I felt that if I had more time to work on these things, I could create even more amazing things for everyone to enjoy.
Why did I want this? Well, I really wanted my content to shine through and help people. I absolutely love and live to help everyone. I’m not without fault and sometimes get angry, but really I just want to be the guy that people come to for answers, insight and a good time. I also would love a work environment where I had more in common with those I work with, and that I could let myself flourish in. To add to the pile, yes, I wanted my name to be out there. I want people to know my name, and I would love to be the Day of League of Legends.
So I have some intense desires and a goal, so why the disconnect? Well, Riot requires its employees to relocate to California, and I have a lot of school loans. The sacrifice involved is leaving friends I’m still close with after 10+ years of a relationship, asking my fiance to pick up her life and move and leaving my family behind. I also have the added stress of needing to steadily pay back these loans and whether Riot offers a long term solution like engineering experience at my current company would. In the end, I determined that I wasn’t really willing to make those sacrifices and would only work if I was able to stay around here.
So you can see how I ran my goal through the gambit and eventually turned it away. I still have the dream to work there one day, but I am unwilling do deal with the sacrifice I have to make. Next time, I’ll be going over what happens when you do embrace a goal and how to go about executing it. Until then, think of what you’d like for yourself and more importantly, why you want it.