Is My Sporting Goal Right For Me?

I’m more than halfway through my psychology doctorate program and I am specializing in sports psych. It’s a fascinating field – how and why we do the sporting things we all do and how our brains can help our bodies do more than we perhaps ever thought possible – but, I’m also a psychotherapist so my work is not solely supporting sporting goals but supporting my clients’ entire well-being. 

While it’s fun to hand out the tidbits I’m learning about how to psych our bodies to “greater greatness”, there also seems to be more fundamental questions lots of athletes struggle with. Do the sports that we perform, the goals that we pursue, really serve our overall wellbeing and make us happy? How do we tell if we’re pursuing the right goal for us?

I recently finished my first full Ironman race – that was a big goal for me and since it’s been done and dusted I’ve wondered what’s next. My teammates are signing up for more full distance races and I’m envious of their knowing they want it and already getting back into the swing of their training. 

I feel like I’m missing out. 

I’ve stalked the Santa Rosa Ironman sign up page three times already, but I haven’t pulled the trigger. 

Why? I’m pretty unsure of whether training for and doing another Ironman would make me happy right now. 

None of us are single facetted beings – we’ve all got to find the balance of things in life that fulfill our individual needs. But figuring out what that looks like for us often involves ignoring others and what works for them, as well as getting over our own ego.

If you’ve experienced the confusion and uncertainty of not being sure what your next goal should be or the wobble that happens when our current goal seems to lose its appeal. I invite you to do a little thought exercise with me now. 

(Warning: This process has been known to make you sign up for awesome shit! I did this on myself over the weekend and now have a new big, bold and totally badass goal for the next year – but more about that later!)

Take a few minutes and think about the feelings you most want to be the regular experiences in your life. Not just your sporting life, but your whole life.

Here’s a list of words to get you thinking – what jumps out at you?

Currently, I am drawn to these words and feelings:

·     Confident

·     Strong

·     Inspired

·     Connected

·     Loving/Loved

What are yours? Create a short list of 4-6 feelings.

Now think about your current sporting goal or one you’ve been considering? In what ways does it move you closer or further from these feelings?

For example, I want to feel strong – does another ironman help me toward that? Actually, for me, not automatically – in my efforts to fit the distance training in I epically skip strength training. So while I did just traverse 140 miles under my own power, I literally can’t do 5 push-ups. A shorter distance goal might allow me to feel I had a bit more time to do the strength training I’ve been cheating on.

Does another ironman help me feel connected? Yes – I love working toward a goal with others (even though I prefer to train alone) so if I jump back on the Ironman train I can get on board with my buddies and our daily check-ins by text again.

Your turn.

Assess each goal you are working on or considering, and how it moves you closer to or further away from your desired feelings. The one that moves you closer to all of them is a winner! 

If your goals do not move you closer to at least some of these important feelings we’ve got some digging to do to find out why you’re doing it. Seriously, this comes up with my clients (and myself) all the time. Why do we do shit that we don’t enjoy? Why have we convinced ourselves we have to?  

Whatever makes you happy in your life… give yourself permission to have it, to go get it. We are so much more powerful in sport and in life when we enjoy what we’re doing. Start with your sporting goal and expand from there!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, feelings, and findings if you give this process a go – please do post below or email me at