Setting Goals-BAC Blog Series-David Hill

Setting Goals-BAC Blog Series- David Hill

We all know that setting goals is important. We spend time thinking about what we want to achieve and then start to plan how we are going to get there. But why do we do it, do we review our goals and how can we give ourselves the best chance of reaching them? I’m David Hill, Paralympic Swimmer for over a decade and now on the #RoadToRio with the ParaTriathlon Team. I finished my swimming career in 2012 and thought I had finished my sporting career too, but I still had many lessons to learn. As well as learning so much about myself as an athlete during that time, I still had to find out what else I could achieve and what new challenges I could take on. In this month’s blog I hope to pass on just a couple of these insights to help you along in month two of those New Year’s resolutions!


I've always been somebody who is never quite satisfied, probably a common trait among many athletes, which is probably why I always strive to constantly improve and get results time and time again. One thing, however, that has taken me many years to learn is the benefit of taking inspiration from things that I have already achieved. Goal setting and looking forward is great, but I’d encourage you not to dismiss reflecting on past achievements to gain self-confidence, belief and the motivation that you can go out and put yourself on the line to achieve your next goal.


Plans aren’t set in stone. It may seem obvious, but there is nothing wrong with going back and altering your plan. This is something I have struggled to do, but if your plan isn’t working, change your plan. Youre in control, and if you discover something is not working for you then it needs to change rather than charging stubbornly ahead and thinking you'll get what you want with brute force. Whatever your goal is you need the best people around you to support you in achieving it. The hire and fire technique is as brutal yet effective as it sounds. If youve set your goals right then its going to be competitive to ensure you come out on top and meet your own expectations. Ask yourself some challenging questions. Do you need to let go of something or someone to allow a better opportunity to arise? Is there something or someone missing from your network to allow you to take the next step? Are you in the right environment or accessing the right support? Don’t put limitations on yourself in moments of self doubt, or on your capabilities of what you could achieve.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go” - T.S.Eliot

A familiar way of mapping out how to achieve your goal is using a ladder diagram. The bottom rung represents where you are today, and your end goal is at the top of the ladder. I have been guilty of solely working towards grasping the top of that ladder. But why not set smaller goals? I underestimated the value of concentrating on the next rung of the ladder. Small goals keep you motivated, build a great sense of achievement and continually provide a chance to prove yourself without being overwhelmed by the bigger picture. Remember the more rungs, the easier the climb, and you keep moving forward (and your mental health will love it!)

This can be broken down even further. Every day I use this simple yet brilliant way to help me achieve my goals: when I wake up, I write down five things I want to accomplish that day, in order of priority (and by priority I usually mean the things I really don’t want to do and have avoided till today). But realistically it’s worthwhile thinking about the most important tasks that require you to be at your freshest and making them number one on the list. It’s often how I still eat my roast dinners: get the vegetables out the way, then on to the potatoes and then savour the taste of the meat and if I'm lucky the stuffing and a cheeky Yorkshire pudding. Setting five goals allows you to have a productive and successful day. It’s all about small successes daily!

Although you're an athlete, I advise that you also set goals in the rest of your life. Again, I've been guilty of neglecting myself and solely focusing on ‘Dave the athlete’. But putting all your eggs in one basket is never a healthy approach to anything in life! Is there anything else you want to learn or be certificated in? Education or an e-learning course? What career could this lead to? Perhaps family goals or even starting a family? And of course your own personal life, travel, things to do for pleasure and financial planning and anything else you can think of. Whatever it is write it down and make it real. Good luck!

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