The importance of goals

The essence of goal-setting is to think about what you want to achieve in your life. Whether that's to be a footballer, to be Prime Minister or just getting your homework done.

I often wonder how our lives are shaped and who we are influenced by. At what age did we first have the power to dream? Can you think back to the stage in your life when you were able to absorb the wisdom to realise your passion and then find the courage to chase it?

The more I think about it, the more vivid moments I am able to recall in my teenage life, when I first felt that burning desire inside. That pivotal moment when I gained inspiration from someone else, to achieve, to represent Australia, to become a Matilda.

I was 12 years old. I attended the Olympic Games in 2000 with my family. We-d driven down to Melbourne to watch the Matildas. On this day it was decided, I wanted to be a Matilda.

Twelve years old, with my brother at the Olympics.

Having returned home I knew what lay ahead for me. I had to train and refine my skill to a level that would pit me against the best female footballers in the country. So I did.

As a 12-year-old girl, this was an ambitious goal. More of a dream. But this didn-t shake my sense of wonder.

Having already played with boys since I was five and blessed with three loving brothers, my competitive nature was embedded already. To further compliment my that, I knew developing my skill would hold me in good stead.

So I juggled for about half an hour each day, that was it. Through the Riverina Academy of Sport we were encouraged to stick to home training programs. We had to record the number of juggles we were able to reach. Goals set by the Academy were 1000 ordinaries (anything), 100 headers and 200 alternates (left & right).

Twenty minutes a day. That is all they asked. It was a very frustrating process, however as weeks went by I had gone from 13 to 14 to reaching hundreds. Thousands followed. It was around this time I developed the profound belief, when you commit yourself to something and you can achieve. As a 12-year-old, this was a good lesson to learn.

So, I-d walk home from school and juggle. The disappearing patch of grass outside our family home was evidence. Mum and Dad never seemed to mind, perhaps they did the day I asked them to come out and watch me juggle to 1000 (only takes 10 minutes).

Or perhaps my little brother would have grown more frustrated when I made him film my trick combination for an entire afternoon. I had to stick them all, in one foul swoop. And it HAD to be on camera, as evidence. I look forward to sifting through this footage one day. Perhaps even with my little brother. He might enjoy that…

The essence of goal-setting is to think about what you want to achieve in your life. My challenge to you - set a goal. You do not have to aspire to be an elite athlete, or the Prime Minister of Australia. It can be something as simple as getting your homework done on time, calling your mother more often, being less judgemental, smiling more...

Only you can decide what it is you truly want to accomplish. Make a conscious effort to create a block of time to reflect and then plan. I have always found more success in achieving my goals if I write them down or share them with a close friend. The simple act of writing them down you hold yourself accountable, it will also help remind you.

Not all will be smooth sailing on the way to achieving your goal, challenges will happen in the way of failure, mistakes, all perceived setbacks. But don-t be too disheartened, these are merely opportunities to learn.

Last year my Canberra United teammate Nicole Sykes and I sat down during the W-League season and encouraged each other to set some clear goals. Here's what Nicole had to say:

“It's been an interesting experience for me because I-d never really sat down and set goals until last year. Before that I just had an idea of what I wanted to achieve. After sitting down with you and discussing my goals during W-League last year, I was accountable to someone other than myself and I think the fact that you were one of my teammates made it even better.

“Goal-setting is an important part of development. By setting smaller goals, these act as stepping stones to help you stay motivated and focused.”

Nicole writes down her goals.

Nicole has now taken up the opportunity to play in Sweden during the W-League off-season. Monitoring your progress towards your identified goal is very important, you may even have to re-assess your goal at differing times.

“It's been a good experience coming overseas into the 'unknown' because I have had to re-evaluate my goals almost 3 times since I-ve been here.

"Having to compete every training session of every week just to get a starting spot has meant that looking at my goals regularly is an important part of adapting to this new challenge. It has been a lot of fun.”

I encourage you to take some time out and reflect. Identify something you want to achieve and write it down, tell someone, tell me if you want to. Accept that achieving change or progress takes time. Identify smaller goals to help you achieve that final goal.

Be aware of the truth in that our motivations can change over time, it is important to re-assess your goals. Most importantly, enjoy the journey towards realising it. You may in fact figure out that the most satisfaction will be gained from the journey itself...

So go on, I dare you to set a goal. Set a goal. Develop a plan. Dream.