Everyone is ambitious. The question is whether he is ambitious to be or ambitious to do.” Jean Monnet (1888-1979) French economist and statesman. In Henry A. Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, 5, 1982. At the risk of evoking the Department of Redundancy Department, I am going to write about goal setting. I know that this was covered a little bit in my article, How to Train Like a Champion, but I am going to address it here because it is something that I am passionate about and am struggling through myself! I promise that I will continue with actual tips to help your specific footing, but this is quintessential! Every year, after my season of competition has ended, I have a meeting with Richard Gray (my partner in crime) and Dr. Don (Don Nettlow-a guy who thrives on giving me grief for any shortcomings of the season! Also, he has trained with me in the gym in the past. He is not a skier but an animal in his own right) We call this meeting “the napkin meeting” because it involves going to some restaurant and hammering out the problems of last year, the successes, and the new goals for the upcoming season. We carefully discuss what we are PASSIONATE about, what we would like to achieve in ultra-specific detail, and HOW we are going to get there on a daily basis. All of the specifics are put onto napkins as a living testament to our commitment! This takes hours and usually requires additional meetings to fine tune. This is a HUGE hint to being an effective goal setter. It is painful to put yourself through the scrutiny of your friends honest criticism, but has many benefits! First of all, having a group of committed friends who are striving for a common goal helps you realize that if you do not commit to your WRITTEN words, there will be consequences. I find that when I feel discouraged and uncommitted to doing what I know I must do during a practice, I gather renewed strength in knowing that I have made a commitment to my friends that I will train like a champion on a daily basis! This usually helps me shake off the mediocrity and laziness of the moment, which in turn gives me a sense of power that I was not feeling a moment before. It also helps to have included in your group the friends that you see on a regular basis. When you look into their eyes you will receive a feeling of guilt or excitement when it is deserved! I see Dr. Don every morning in the gym at 5:30 a.m. and I think about this every evening when I decide how I am going to train at that particular moment! The second important reason why this type of group commitment is important is that you are forced to put your goals in writing. It has been proven over and over again that there is a magical thing that happens when you put your goals in writing! Those who have written down their goals are many times more likely to achieve them than those who do not! I will not expound on this further except to say that I do not believe that you really want to achieve anything of any importance until you taken the time to put them in writing. Then, I want you to take it one step further and place the goals where you will see them every day. I highly recommend reading Norman Vincent Peale’s, The Power of Positive Thinking. This will give you tremendous insight into the specifics of how to write and achieve your goals. If you do not have a way to find this book, you can click on the title above to link to order it for $4.79 or paste in the following address(http://www.vstore.com/cgi-bin/pagegen/excelirsuperstore/516559babe17d991679470a0dad2568d/page.html?mode=search&file=%2Fpage%2Fsearch%2Fsearchresults.spl&keywords=The+Power+of+Positive+Thinking&x=23&y=10) ! It will be the best $5 ever spent if you truly study it! I have read the book 5 times and I re-read it every year. I love to keep it with me when I go to tournaments because it gets me fired-up and focused! Ask yourself these questions, what would get you so excited that you would get up earlier every day excited about what you are going to do? What personal goal could you set that would ignite the kind of passion and commitment to be a better person, a healthier person, a person who would be willing to do even your regular daily tasks better because of your excitement about achieving your new goal? What would it take for you to not give up when it seems impossible? Once you have decided what goal you are going to write down, you need to find out what tools you will need to accomplish that goal. For me, I find that I make my greatest strides when I use video analysis to analyze my skiing. I get really motivated when I do this. I also like to watch other great skiers on video so that I can learn from their strengths and mistakes. I have committed to video analysis every Monday at 5:30! This is a very specific way for me to achieve my goals, and I know that it will work for you. For most of you, you will need the additional input of exactly HOW TO accomplish your specific barefoot skill in a step-by-step manner. Being part of this newsletter is a great start and having the instructional video should fill in specifics for getting started. I strongly believe that “dry-land practice” has been a huge factor in my personal success. But dry-land practice only helps if you know HOW TO practice correct form. That is why the instructional video will keep you on the straight and narrow path. Of course, it should be said that the number one way to improve is to attend the best ski school in the world and be coached by an instructor that you trust as having the skills that you would like to acquire and the technology to get you there in a safe and effective manner. The combination of all these will certainly be the best of all worlds. I could go on forever, but I will wrap it up by giving you a test of how effective you were at setting your goals: #1 did you set a goal that you are quite certain is out of your reach just enough to where you have to question whether or not you can achieve it? There should be some risk here! If it is too easy you are short changing your ability. #2 did you list ALL the components needed to accomplish your goal; People you must consult, skills you must accomplish, conditioning you must achieve (strength training), video camera and operator #3 did you commit in writing to a group of friends! When are you going to evaluate your progress with them? How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What is the time frame? #4 THE BIG TICKET: Did you do something about it immediately? “But Lane, I don’t live in beautiful Winter Haven, FL where life is so perfect. I won’t be able to ski for another couple of months (can I get you some cheese with that wine?)”! I grew up in Chicago where there were flesh freeze warnings and no lakes close by. I know what you are feeling, but that doesn’t matter. You should have set a goal with so much passion attached to it that you decided to launch your own fitness program! Get help from a professional trainer or a friend that is buff and bad to the bone! Trade out some ski time for having them get you into great shape. Tell them you want to get on a program that will have you looking like the titanium frame of The Terminator after his skin melted off! When the water can support the weight of your vehicle (i.e. frozen 8 feet thick), this is a great time to dry-land practice, watch videos, have a video analysis party with your ski buds and analyze each others’ form on land! Hey, getting to Winter Haven, FL might get you fired-up a little too! You might even want to email me and let me have a crack at getting you going! Also, please do me a huge favor and refer someone to my newsletter. I work really hard on these articles and I need your help to help the sport we love so much grow! Just cut and paste the following into an email to your friends!