“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” – Michelangelo Buonarroti, Renaissance Artist
Steve is reflecting on the last goal that he set for himself. His season started well, he was making progress, he felt great about the way he was refereeing and he was excited about the possibility of promotion. But then things unravelled.
The goal of promotion begun to take longer to complete than he thought it would, and he became discouraged. Because he didn’t stop to look at what he had achieved, he lost his drive and focus. Before he knew it, promotion, and the opportunities it would have brought, were forgotten. Sound familiar?
In this Blog, we’ll look at some common mistakes that officials make when they set goals. Learn how to recognise these mistakes, so that you can avoid making them yourself!
Error 1: Setting Unrealistic Goals
When you’re exploring possible refereeing goals you need to unleash your imagination and ambition, put your reservations aside, and dream big. However, once you’ve decided on a goal, make sure that it is realistic, and that you can actually achieve it in the time frame that you have set for yourself.
For instance, if your goal is to officiate a cup final, it’s wildly unrealistic to expect to be appointed to one next month, unless you’ve already had several months of good performances. Or, if your goal is to referee semi-professional football, but you’ve only just taken up the whistle, this goal might not be practical – at least not yet!
To set realistic goals, use SMART Goal Setting strategies: make sure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Error 2: Neglecting Goals That Bring You Joy
Imagine that you’ve just written your list of goals for the next year. You’ve committed to increasing your marks, applying for a promotion, and reading the Laws Of The Game more.
Although this is an ambitious but achievable list of goals, there’s a potential problem: these goals focus only on your refereeing career. You’ve completely omitted goals from other parts of your life.
Many officials focus solely on their refereeing when they set goals. However, you can’t neglect activities that bring you joy. Goals like writing a book, competing in a race, or starting a garden might also be incredibly important for your happiness and wellbeing.
So, when you set your goals, make sure that you strike the right balance between different areas of your life. And remember that “balance” is different for everyone.
Error 3: Underestimating Completion Time
How often has a task or project taken longer than you thought? Probably more times than you can count! You may also say the same for refereeing goals that you’ve set in the past.
If you don’t estimate goal completion time accurately, it can be discouraging when things take longer to achieve than you think they should. This can cause you to give up.
So, always make space in your timelines to account for delays and setbacks, such as injuries. If you add extra time into your estimate, you’ll feel less pressure to rush and finish by a certain date.
Error 4: Not Appreciating Failure
No matter how hard you work, you will fail to achieve goals from time to time. We’ve all been there, and it isn’t fun!
However, your failures are what ultimately determine your character. They also contain lessons that can change your life for the best, if you have the courage to learn from them.
So don’t be too upset if you fail to achieve your goals, just take note of where you went wrong, such as observation feedback and use that knowledge to reach your goals next time around.
Error 5: Setting “Other People’s Goals”
Some people – family, friends, or even colleagues may want to influence the goals you set. Perhaps they feel that they know what’s best for you, or maybe they want you to take a certain path or do certain things throughout the season.
Clearly, it’s important that you have good relationships with these people, and you need to do what your Referee Development Officer/Manager asks of you.
However, your goals need to be your own, not anybody else’s. So be politely assertive, and do what you need to do for you!
Error 6: Not Reviewing Progress
It takes time to accomplish goals. And sometimes it can feel that you aren’t making much progress.
This is why it’s important to take stock of everything that you’ve accomplished on a regular basis. Set small sub-goals, such as a good observation on the way to a promotion, celebrate your successes, and analyse what you need to do to keep moving forward. No matter how slow things seem, you probably are making progress!
You can also take this opportunity to update your goals, based on what you’ve learnt. Have your priorities changed? Or do you need to set aside some extra time for a particular goal activity?
Goals are never set in stone, so don’t be afraid to amend them if you need to.
Error 7: Setting “Negative” Goals
How you think about your goal can influence how you feel about it, and whether you achieve it.
For example, many people have a goal to “lose weight.” However, this goal has a negative connotation; it’s focused on what you don’t want, your weight. A positive way to reframe this goal is to say you want to “get healthy.”
Another example of a negative goal is to “stop staying late at work.” A positive way to rephrase this is to “spend more time with family.”
Negative goals are emotionally unattractive, which makes it hard to focus on them. Reframe any negative goals so that they sound positive: you may be surprised by the difference this makes!
Error 8: Setting Too Many Goals
When you start setting goals, you may see many things in your refereeing that you want to accomplish. So you start setting goals in all areas.
The problem with this is that you have a fixed amount time and energy. If you try to focus on many different goals at once, you can’t give individual goals the attention they deserve.
Instead, use the “quality, not quantity” rule when setting goals. Work out the relative importance of everything that you want to accomplish over the next six to twelve months of your season. Then pick no more than, say, three goals to focus on.
Remember, the success of your work towards a goal rests on focusing on just a few things at a time. If you limit the number of goals you’re working on, you’ll have the time and energy you need to do things really well!
Living a life without setting goals is like sailing a ship without having planned a course: you’re likely to end up somewhere that you wouldn’t want to go! This is why you need to set goals to develop yourself and achieve your dreams.
But you need to avoid common mistakes along the way. These can cause you to feel discouraged, question your abilities, or even give up.
The good news is that you’re much more likely to accomplish your dreams if you know about these mistakes, and avoid them!
At The Third Team I work individually and in collaboration with different professionals where I have developed workshops and 1-2-1 sessions associated with Resilience and Mental Toughness Development to help referees. The workshops and 1-2-1 sessions are interactive, where referees are encouraged to open up and share their experiences to help themselves and each other.
Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about my workshops or 1-2-1 sessions and how I could help you or your officials.
Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team
Nathan Sherratt, Referee Educator, Resilience Trainer and Managing Director of The Third Team. A Mental Toughness Practitioner based in County Durham, North East England.