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Why setting big goals can be scary... and where to begin.

 I have a complicated relationship with goal setting. While I consider myself to be a very goal driven person, I strangely have a tough time with identifying, setting and even admitting to others that I have specific goals. ‘Admitting’ may seem like a strange word to use when referring to goal setting, as this word has a negative connotation, like admitting guilt. Yet, for so long, that’s how I felt about the idea of goal setting.

Photo by Bruno Long

- Photo by Bruno Long

In today’s era of self-help, the concepts of self-actualisation and goal setting are common themes. There is almost a pressure upon us to have identified our 1-year, 5-year and 10-year plans. I have always done well at setting daily and weekly goals, but anything more than this would make me quite uneasy. Why? I came to realise that it’s because these long-term goals are often harder to achieve. The longer the time span, the more likely it is for motivation to wane and for distractions to get in the way - leading to potential failures. I could not stand the thought of failure; so to keep myself safe I avoided ‘admitting’ I had long-term goals. 

Four years ago I co-produced a film with my sister, titled Finding the Line. The documentary evaluates fear, its paralysing grip on humans and how it affects our decision making. Through the course of producing this film, I discovered that one of my greatest fears was failure. Here is a direct quote from me, taken from an interview in the film (minute 11:13).

Photo by Bruno Long

- Photo by Bruno Long

“It sucks to have goals that you don’t achieve, and when I was younger I used to not say my goals out load, I’d never tell them to anyone, because I didn’t want people to know that I’d failed at them.”
- Anna Segal

A little sad, right, and not something you’d expect from a professional athlete. However, once I identified my fear of failure, and the link it had to goal setting, I started looking for inspiration to overcome this. During this journey I came across Reshma Saujani’s Ted Talk, Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection. A simple quote from this video that I still I still refer to today is; “be brave, not perfect.” This can be applied to goal setting. Be brave with your goal setting and remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect while trying to achieve what you set out to do. There will be mishaps, failures and really tough times along the way. You may not even achieve certain goals that you have set. But, the best you can do is try. At the very least, your efforts will help you avoid regret (another emotion I thoroughly detest).

Hopefully I have convinced you that setting goals is a worthwhile activity, but where to go from here? Start with taking a piece of paper, a journal, or a typing device, and brainstorm where you want to go with your life long term. Write down whatever comes to your head – no mater how silly or far reaching your ideas may first seem. Then identify your most important long-term goals and work backwards to break them down into shorter-term goals, to the point that you create daily and weekly goals that seem achievable. Finally… The crux is to tell these goals to someone. Choose a person you trust and say them out loud. It’s not their job to hold you accountable, but it will likely solidify the goals you have chosen in your own mind.

Happy goal setting! Let’s bust down the door of 2021 to make it a productive and positive year.

 If you’d like to watch Finding The Line, you can view it for free here.

Photo by Bjarne Salen

- Photo by Bjarne Salen

 Written by Anna Segal, an Australian Olympic freestyle slopestyle skier and two-time world champion who lives, works and plays in beautiful Pemberton, BC.