Setting Goals … And How to Achieve Them; Live in the Moment


Setting Goals (Wayne Goldsmith)

Exchange your hopes for “actions,” trade in your wishes for “commitment” and swap your dreams for “goals” – and you’ll be on your way to realizing your full potential!

How many times have you thought or said, “This year will be the year I swim faster than ever and smash my PRs”? Or… “I am going to win my school championships this season”? Or even… “One day, I am going to win nationals, make the Olympic team and win a gold medal?”

There’s nothing wrong with having these thoughts. And there’s nothing wrong with saying out loud what it is that you’re passionate about achieving.

Every person on the planet has hopes and wishes and dreams—every one of us. And your dreams can come true: right here…right now!
The problem, though, is not with the goals you set for yourself—it’s the way you go about turning your goals into GOLD that needs to change.

A Different Look at Goal Setting

First…Can You Dare To Be Different?

I want you to think about your hometown—the place where you’re living right now.

Look around at the houses and apartments, and think for a moment about all the people living there—all of them wishing, hoping and dreaming about changing something in their lives.

Some want to lose weight and look and feel better and healthier. Some would like to have a lot of money and travel the world. Others daydream about buying the fastest car ever made.

It is normal and natural for people to want something better, whether it’s for yourself, for your family or for your friends. However, for the majority of people, nothing ever comes of their hopes, wishes or dreams because they lack one thing: They didn’t choose to make it happen.

If you want to be successful, if you want to get outstanding grades in school, if you want to achieve anything in life worth achieving, you need to take a different path than everyone else: You need to dare to be different.

Real-Life Story

I was watching a world-class swimmer training in the gym by herself. She was lifting dumbbells over her head, alternating her left arm, then her right arm.

When she had completed her dumbbell presses, she then moved to the bench and did some bench-press sets, then proceeded to the squat rack, then to the dip bars. She was doing a fairly standard gym workout for a competitive swimmer.

I’ve seen thousands of swimmers complete similar gym workouts, and most of them are more or less the same—but this one was different.

In rep after rep, set after set, she pushed her body and her mind to the absolute limit. Every time it looked as if she had lifted her last rep, she somehow found a way to lift one more, then one more—again and again. Exhausted, she put down the weight, had a short rest, then repeated the same exercise or moved onto the next one.

For 40 minutes, I watched this remarkable athlete repeatedly ask and demand more of herself, driving herself to give all she had in everything she did. It was inspiring.

After the workout, I went over and said, “Hi,” and asked her about her workout. She took out a piece of paper with the workout written on it and showed me.

All the exercises were written on the paper—three sets of this, five sets of that. All of the information she needed to complete her gym workout was written on the page.

However, there was nothing that said, “Push yourself as hard as you can” or “Challenge yourself to lift these weights better than you ever have lifted them” or “Work hard until you can’t work anymore.” There was only three sets of this, five sets of that…but nothing to tell her how to actually do the workout.

I asked her, “That was a really impressive workout. Can I ask why you did it like that? Why did you push yourself to do that workout so well?”

She said, “I choose to do it that way. I know around the state and across the nation, there are other swimmers doing gym workouts, and like me, they all want to be successful. Every time I do a workout, I imagine they’re working out next to me and that I need to show them just how hard I am prepared to work to improve.”

Why Most People Fail to Achieve Their Goals

There’s one simple reason why people fail to achieve their goals: They set goals.

That’s right.

“Goal setting” doesn’t work.

To be more precise, “goal setting” doesn’t work…because of the way we’ve all been taught to do it.

Just like the people who dream about getting in shape and traveling and buying expensive cars, most swimmers dream about medals and PRs and winning their conference title.

The problem with “dreamers” is that mostly they dream about something that could happen or might happen or should happen…but never commit to the decision to make it happen.

It’s wonderful to have dreams. Dreams inspire human beings to achieve remarkable things.

But what’s heartbreaking is to meet people who had dreams that never came true because they kept thinking about their dreams as something that could or might or should happen in the future.

The key is to dream—right here, right now and while you’re awake!

D-R-E-A-M-S Can Come True: It Can Happen to You

Think of your DREAMS as: Deliberate – Responsible – Everything – Accountable – Motivation – Success.

Deliberate. Just as it was with the swimmer in the gym, make everything you do deliberate—i.e., give it a clear purpose. Don’t just count the reps…make every rep count. Don’t just count the laps…make every lap count.

Responsible. Take responsibility and ownership for your dreams. Make them happen. Don’t wait for mom or dad or coach or your teammates to push you or encourage you to achieve your dreams. They’re your dreams! Take responsibility for making them reality.

Everything. Make your dreams happen by giving everything you have to everything you do. Your training, your diet, your sleep, your recovery, your time management, the time you get to spend with friends and family—everything you do impacts on your capability to achieve success and to realize your potential.

Accountable. Say this several times every morning and every evening: “If it is to be: It is up to me!” Remember that anything really is possible if you decide to choose to make it possible.

Motivation. The only motivation you need is the motivation that you already have. It’s in there…somewhere. It’s burning inside you. You don’t need anyone to yell slogans at you or to buy you posters with motivational sayings. You don’t need to listen to motivational music or to gurus telling you and selling you the latest motivational gimmicks. Just choose to start doing the right things—right now—that you already know will make you successful.

Success. However you define success, it’s possible for you to achieve it. There’s a wonderful saying: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start…to be great.” Or to put it another way—as the great coaching guru, Tony Robbins, once said: “Live in your head…and you’re dead.” If you don’t start working toward the success you seek right here and right now…your dreams shall forever remain just that—dreams.


1. Goal setting is great. It’s fun, it’s fantastic, it’s fabulous…BUT it doesn’t work—not the way we’ve always done it.

2. Don’t think about tomorrow—focus on today. Don’t worry about what’s coming next—concentrate on what’s happening now. Goal setting isn’t about the future—it’s very much about the present.

3. Moments become minutes. In other words, by concentrating on right here and right now and by focusing on this moment…then this moment…then this moment—the moments become minutes. It’s the cumulative effect of giving everything you have to everything you do that makes the impossible possible…and turns your dreams into reality.

Wayne Goldsmith has worked with swimmers, coaches, swimming clubs, swimming parents, sports scientists and swimming organizations all over the world for more than 25 years. He has contributed to Swimming World Magazine for nearly two decades. He is one of the world’s leading experts in elite-level swimming and high-performance sport. Be sure to check out Goldsmith’s websites at and