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Goal Setting in Kayaking

Often people ask “Where do you find you motivation in kayaking (and life)?” As someone who came from a family of highly motivated people motivation is something I am fortunate to be accustomed to. The wake up and go type of drive that people with passion seem to run off of like 20 year olds and coffee. How does that start? How do we get it, is it created or is it just a certain type?

Goal Setting in Kayaking

As someone who has competed professionally in kayaking for 20 years, which is half of the time my father has. I have watched, learned and continue to study- How to stay and be motivated. Biggest takeaway- Motivation is easiest found when you set good HABITS.

For many, winning a medal can be like a finish line, a place of pause or rest, and then they determine what steps to take next. For me it’s another event towards a bigger goal. I can’t control other peoples actions so stating a goal of winning the World Championships doesn’t keep the ball in my court. I’m a bit of a control freak so paying attention to the things I can control, is key for me.

Goal Setting in Kayaking

So how do you set the goals? And are the goals the secret to motivation? Since big events only come once a year, they can bring big highs, and with them big lows. What motivates me is the daily actions, habits I have formed to work towards a higher goal. Knowing I spent the day working towards the things most important to me, and that make me happy, creates longer lasting motivation, the results of one day.

To start working towards your goals it comes with a deep question:

What makes me happy?

For me it’s:

Kayaking, Exercise, Family, Friends, My Work, Travel, Giving Back

For goal setting and motivation, I would then break out each one of the above –

Today I’m going to break down my kayaking,.

What about kayaking makes me happy? Why do I enjoy paddling? I’m focused on my WHY’s so I can prioritize those when making my plans/ action items.

Goal Setting in Kayaking

For Kayaking my Personal Goals are:

  • To Continue to Grow and Learn New Tricks in my Playboat
  • To be Strong in my Boat
  • To Enjoy the Present Moment When Paddling
  • To see new rivers and new places
  • To train and spend time with family and friends

Once I have established my “Why and Goals” I can break it into smaller action items.
For example – Continuing to Learn New Tricks.

Setting goals for the year is great. BUT it can often give us a false sense of security by thinking- I have 12 months to execute this so technically I don’t even need to think about it right now.

Start by reviewing your calendar- Clearly January might not be the best month to plan on being in a really good hole in Colorado as its Iced over. Break your goals into 12 weeks, while paying attention to the time frames. Don’t look for convenience but look for ways to help you execute the overall goals.

Goal Setting in Kayaking

For me- Learning New Tricks-

This 12 Week period I know that I am unable to spend much time in a play feature, but I have access to the lake, eddy lines, and at times either a big trashy hole, or a tiny wave hole. So I am focusing on the things I can control

In this 12 week period my action items are:

  • Paddle 15 days this Month
  •  Work on Super Clean Cartwheels in Flatwater
  • Paddle Hard in Flatwater when Paddling
  • Work on Tricky and Lunar Loops in Flatwater.
  • Try 5 each time I am in my playboat

Having clear action items that are helping me work towards my goal of “To Continue to Learn and Try New Tricks”- means that I have a sense of direction daily, I am motivated because I feel in control and active. There will be days where life gets in the way but I know that 80% of the time, I am doing a good job working towards my goals. Notice the happiness associated with overcoming obstacles and working towards the best version of yourself.

Set yourself up for success by not creating too many goals per your priorities, make them attainable- get them on paper, show a friend. Stay true to your deadlines, and remember a vision without a plan, is a pipe dream.

I hope this breakdown on how I set my goals showcases a way to stay motivated throughout the year and beyond. At least once a year review your WHY to ensure that you are being true to yourself and remember- change is constant, so because your goal was important a year ago, doesn’t mean the same thing will be as important in the present moment. Being honest with yourself will help you determine what makes it unique and special to you.

Goal Setting in Kayaking

Here are some quotes that help remind me of the power of NOW and taking action

“The great thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”- Abraham Lincoln

“All my life I wanted to be somebody. Now I realize I should have been more specific”- Lily Tomlin

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit”. Aristotle

“If we did the things we are capable of doing, we would astound ourselves.” Thomas Edison

Have FUN with your goal setting and helping people overcome challenges on the water is a big part of my WHY so if you see me out on the water and have any question- know it brings me great joy to assist in any way I can!


Happy Paddling
Emily Jackson