For as long as I can remember playing chess I’ve been promising to dedicate myself to improving. After every tournament I’ve ever played I can remember specifically stating how this was the last time I was going to play a tournament unprepared. This dedication would last about a week. Apparently what I was doing didn’t work for me. So I decided to rededicate myself to my mission of improving my game.
See I am the type of person that usually spends a lot of time planning. In fact I have a real problem where I work on very intricate plans, but I never get any further. So I started to do some deep self analysis and what I discovered was that I just had to start. I don’t think I’m unique with this problem, but unlike most I am willing to do something about it. With this epiphany I was able to identify three steps that I had to be willing to pursue if I wanted to accomplish my goal. And those three steps are:
- A well defined goal
- Commitment to achieving the goal
- A way of being accountable to achieving the goal
Step 1: Define your goals. Make your goals measurable. If you set precise goals that have dates or some other measurable benchmark then you are able to focus on what you’re trying to accomplish. My approach is to set a major goal and break that down into intermediate goals that are designed to help me reach my major goal. As an example my major goal in chess is to become a Class A player. This goal is very miserable, however, this task is overwhelming if I look at where I’m at now which is a Class C player. This is where setting mini goals is extremely helpful. Defining these intermediate goals are like setting way points on a trip. Everyone of these mini goals should get you closer to your ultimate goal. As an example, I realized that I was going to need help from a much stronger player. I set a goal to locate somebody that I could depend on to meet with me on a regular basis to improve my game. I found a chess coach on the internet for price that could afford and achieved that goal of getting help. Achieving that goal moves me closer to obtaining my major goal.
Step 2: Commitment to your goal will probably be the hardest part of goals setting. Once you commit to achieving your goals you are heading down a path that will require you to make sacrifices. Do not kid yourself; achieving worthwhile goals is not easy. It requires you to work hard. So my advice to you is to make sure that this is something that you really want to achieve. For me this meant that I had to decide if I wanted to use my entertainment budget to pay for a chess coach. My budget is finite so if I’m paying for a coach then I don’t have money for something else like going out to eat at a restaurant. I was also faced with adjusting my schedule and forcing myself to dedicate time every day to working on my game. Again this means if I’m allocating my very limited free time to chess then I have to be willing to give up something else.
Step 3: When I did my self analysis I discovered that one of the reasons that I failed in achieving certain goals is because I tried to do it all by myself. Some people can be successful doing that. Unfortunately I am not. The goals I noticed that I achieved were usually done with other people being aware of what I was trying to accomplish. There was an accountability involved in the goal. I had people asking me how it was going or how close I was to being finished. In any event I had someone watching my progress. This provided motivation to keep going. If I failed I wasn’t the only person that would know. My advice is do something that makes you feel accountable towards your goal. I started this web page with the intention of allowing the world to follow me as I strive to achieve my Class A rating. I told everyone at work what I was doing just so they would know and I would gain motivation from them. By being accountable it is much less likely that you’ll quit when the commitment and sacrifice that you have to make seems overwhelming.
These steps for me were specifically devised with chess in mind, but as I thought more about it these are needed to accomplish any goal. If you have something that you have wanted to accomplish then I’m convinced that following these steps will produce results. Reaching your dreams is in your hands. You have control over accomplishing whatever you want. Never ever give up. As long as you breath you have any opportunity to accomplish great things.
Just go for it.