Attainable Short Term Goals
For my entire life, I've been a list maker and a goal setter.
The two go hand-in-hand, in my book.
Like, to attain my own goals, I usually start with a list of things to get there -- checkpoints along the route, really -- put my head down, and start checking them off.
And for a vast majority of my own personal goals, I've hit the mark.
Financial goals used to be my "thing" in my 20's.
Not ridiculous ones like trying to be a millionaire by age 30 or anything -- more like, a 5-figure savings account, zero credit card debt, making double payments on my mortgage, or maxing out my 401k for the year.
All attainable -- and things you can actually concretely see progressing towards a finish line.
The only thing that can trip you up is, well, you. You need to hold yourself accountable and stick to the plan.
I used to be a pretty heavy personal finance blogger when that was still a thing back in the mid-2000's.
My real specialty was paying down debt at a rapid pace and the secret to my successes where a strict schedule of automatic pay downs and never actually using a credit card to, you know, well, buy anything frivolous.
I'd "borrow" thousands of dollars at a time at a 0% promo rate for 18-24 months.
(It still blows my mind that it was even possible (or legal?) to take 0% cash advances on credit cards without any fee...but it was pretty standard back then.)
So, yeah, while I routinely had a HUGE credit card balance on my credit report, I always had the cash relatively available to pay it all back...within days, if needed.
I spent years writing $10k checks to myself on those 0% offers you get in the mail all of the time... and invested all of it... Essentially making decent money by bond laddering and investing in sure thing, at the time, mutual funds.
I financed all of it with credit cards. All of it.
The entire time, I kept track of every single penny I spent ensuring that I was never "slipping".
Lots of priority lists, lots of dates, lots of scheduled minimum payments, and a lot of spreadsheets where I'd diligently analyze everything.
Before long, I could actually see the goals coming to fruition. Like, after just a few months, I was "up" hundreds of dollars and it was clear that each time I laddered up a rung, wow, I'd pick up momentum!
Like, once I'd attained a $10k savings balance, I was comfortable enough to sign up for yet another credit card, borrow another $10k and invest in even more mutual funds. If the interest I'm making here can cover the minimum payment on another $10k...let's do it! Snowball effect.
Not one dime came from my moderately sized paycheck and it had zero effect on my day-to-day finances.
In short, I'd built up a sizable portfolio -- that was paying ME -- with someone else's money...
You know that blue BMW paperweight so often seen in the background of the photos on this site?
Yeah, I bought that when I was 22 years old...making payments on it via the interest I was making on investments via money that wasn't actually mine.
Think about that.
Two things to take from this: good credit matters and, more importantly, a solid plan that you stick to can take you places.
In hindsight, I wish I'd had the confidence in myself back then to really go all in. Such a strategy wouldn't work these days, unfortunately, with "free" money much harder to come by and interest rates so low...
Sorry, no get rich quick secrets to be had here.
But still, there are so many things that can be accomplished by creating lists, setting priorities off of those lists, and moving towards a goal.
Like, here's another one, and it may sound totally ridiculous but when then Biggest Loser was a popular tv show, I wanted to be a contestant.
I'd even prod some of my portlier friends to see if they were interested, you know, maybe in teaming up and submitting a video to the casting calls.
Legit, I knew that if I got on that show, I'd be able to drop weight at a crazy pace. Of all of the reality shows, this one wasn't really skill based. Or a social mind playing game. It was strictly a diligence and results based reality show.
Just going back to my uncanny ability (from 25 years prior) to "get in shape" quickly when motivated and the fact that my diet and exercise regimen would be very focused just by the format of the show -- piece of cake.
Like total piece of cake. I could actually eat cake while competing and still win. I was pretty confident.
Not working in my favor, though, was the fact I've never been considered heavy. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I finally topped 100 pounds so heft has never been my thing.
When I was younger, my parents were instructed to let me eat whenever and whatever I wanted in an attempt to put on some weight. Historically, I'm not Biggest Loser material. I just don't have that build.
But then I got old.
It was at a doctor's appointment that my wife forced me to go to that I was tagged as obese.
Like...no freakin' way!
I was pumped, like I'd reached some sort of mountaintop, and could barely hide it from the doctor. I mean, it was never a goal of mine to get big but, damn, I surpassed 200 pounds!
I was finally well on my way to being morbidly obese! Yes!!!
Okay, that's an overstatement. I was 216 pounds which, honestly, doesn't seem that heavy to most people but, to me, it felt HUGE!
But, sadly, by 2018, no one was watching the Biggest Loser anymore and aspiring to be on shows like "My 600-lb Life" are akin to trying to have a million dollars in the bank by age 30. Not gonna happen.
Even still, as the doctor started to label me pre-diabetic and started scheduling additional blood work, and lining me up for additional doctor appointments, I resorted back to the mindset I'd last had in my early 20's.
I knew what I had to do. I've got this.
By the time the blood work appointment came around, I'd already lost 20 pounds.
Blood work came back perfectly normal too.
I blew off the dietician appointment -- downloaded a calorie counter app that my wife showed me instead and started keeping track of what I ate.
I wasn't dieting by any means, just religiously tracking what went in...and what my weight was.
And, hardly shocking, there was a direct correlation.
If I ate tons of mini-carrots instead of a half gallon of ice cream each night say, for a week, I'd drop like 5 or 6 pounds.
Boom -- mini short term goals realized right there.
Keeping track of my intake was the list I needed. Watching my weight fall was the momentum.
A sedentary lifestyle wasn't my issue -- I was on the ice 3 or 4 times per week then. No need for a fitness tracker or walking 10,000 steps a day or anything.
I knew my weight was 100% due to the amount of food I was eating.
Like, we're all parents here, right? It still drives me bonkers when we go out to a restaurant and the kids just nibble on their overpriced $15 meal. I'm sure you can relate.
Well, anytime that would happen, I'd turn into a Hoover vacuum cleaner and clean off every plate and need to be wheelbarrowed out of the restaurant. I'll even admit there were a few occasions where my wife would have to drive home -- I was stuffed to the top of the esophagus.
With 3 kids -- well, I was eating way, way, way too much. Every. Single. Day.
For me, though, once I started keeping track of the calories, it was the same as the financial goals when I was younger -- numbers.
Numbers are easy.
Immediately after that doctor's appointment, like that very night, I started eating less and the weight fell off...rapidly.
I mean, really, it was simple.
I set a goal to get to a "normal" BMI and away I went.
34-inch waist pants.
Double chin that had snuck up on me disappeared at this point.
32-inch waist pants.
Slim flit dress shirts.
And then right back to eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted...but keeping an eye on the scale too.
And like anyone that's dieted will tell you, the last 10 pounds were the hardest, without a doubt...but for the first 40 pounds, it was just like my finances -- momentum was continually building and progress was rapid.
Here's the crappy part, though... It was just as I was reaching my goal that I caught a glimpse of the back of my own head in a photo.
Am I balding?
Oh my god, I AM balding?!
Eh, can't have it all, I guess...
So, what does any of this have to do with youth hockey?
That was a long intro, I admit, and I'm sorry if you actually read it all but it's all just affirmation that setting short term goals works when you want them to and are willing to put in the work to reach them.
Getting your kids in on that mindset early sets them up for success in hockey and everything beyond.
My oldest son's hockey season has been put on hold due to Covid-19 for 60 days and he's set a goal for himself that when he's back, he'll be a different player.
He got off to a decent start this season and then his play declined for a couple months before coming back to life again just as the ability to still play games started to tailspin.
For him, the pause in the middle of the season is likely a good thing -- he needed to re-set, re-focus, and re-start.
So, just a day in, and after well over a year of me telling him he really needed work on his shot velocity, he replaced the long-dead batteries in that goofy radar detector thing we have and made a chart for the next 59 days where he'll take an average of 10 shots to work himself up and, more importantly, visualize his progression.
Now, I've always been a big proponent of taking shots at home. Lots of them. And all three of my kids take an awful lot of shots.
And here's where it gets a little dicey where sometimes it can seem like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth -- there are a number of instances on this website where I say shot velocity is more important than accuracy and other times where I've said that, well, power is nothing without accuracy.
And here I go again -- both are true.
Depending on the age of the player -- in my opinion.
All three of my kids, when they first started playing hockey, struggled to lift the puck. Like, more than their peers.
Part of the issue was the stick curve I had them using wasn't really doing them any favors but it never really bother me and, in hindsight, I'm glad they used the curve that they did.
I was keenly aware that the kids that were scoring aces as mites -- all going upstairs with every goal they scored -- were just flipping or shoveling the puck at the net.
That works in mites...but not much beyond that.
I was doing my best to encourage my kids to just shoot hard -- even if the puck stays on the ice the entire time.
That pays dividends later whereas the flip shot leads nowhere.
Velocity is what mattered.
Now, once they'd gained a little more strength -- and I switched the curve -- lifting the puck wasn't an issue and, with the benefit of shooting as hard as they could in prior seasons, they had an advantage over their peers that had grown accustomed to gently flipping the puck into the net and piling up goals.
Squirt goalies eat that stuff up.
Peewee goalies will taunt you if you shoot like that.
So, it was at this point that I started to stress accuracy.
My kid's shots weren't heavy, by any means, but they weren't guilty of flipping the puck either -- seemed like the right thing to do.
My oldest got really good at it, really quickly. He even won a shot accuracy contest at one of the tournaments his team played in -- which was crazy cause he was certainly at the bottom of the overall depth chart on his own roster but was the only one to come home with some hardware that weekend.
But that's what launched him, boosted his confidence, and he worked at it.
Accuracy, that is. He really worked at it.
I think his record over the summer was something like 16 shots off the cross bar in a row.
So whenever one of those online 3-Bar shooting contests comes around, he goes 3-for-3.
People think and accuse him (or me) of doctoring the videos or taking do-overs until he gets all three in succession -- and that really pisses him off -- but, honestly, if you ask him to hit the left post from 20-25 feet away, he'll ring it off that post 9 out of 10 times.
Same deal on the right post.
Same on the crossbar.
He practiced this. A ton.
Now, at the same time, this is a kid that only averages one or two goals per season -- how can that be?
Well, he plays defense. By choice.
A youth hockey defenseman that plays their position isn't often in that 15-20 foot radius of the opposing goal -- but if you need a shoot out goal, he'll surprise you.
Now, before you know it, the kids are peewees and legally winding up for full blown slap shots.
Every team has that kid with a cannon that routinely shoots 10 feet wide and 6 feet high. You can almost feel the crowd groan -- "Boy, if that kid could just hit the net once in a while, he'd be good for a goal or two per game!"
To those kids' credit, they're certainly not guilty of getting into the bad habit of flipping the puck. That's a great thing.
But it's also clear that those are same kids have never once worked on accuracy.
- For the U8 kids, I'd put power first over lifting the puck or any kind of accuracy.
- At U10, work on that accuracy.
- For U12, with any luck, that strategy should lead to power and accuracy coming together at the perfect time.
So how is my U12 doing?
Well...things did not align perfectly for him. Power is an issue.
Inside 20 feet, he can beat a goalie using his power and accuracy. Outside of that, like from just inside the blue line -- his shot is totally ineffective. And that's a problem for a blueliner -- something he's just started to really realize for himself this season.
So he set a goal.
He's going to work on his shot velocity during this pause.
And he's going to track it. And hopefully build momentum. And get better.
He's already figured out that -- based on his accuracy success -- shooting pucks is simply a muscle memory exercise.
His shot placement is amazing from the top of the circles and in because he's trained relentlessly shooting at home from that distance.
And following one of those online 3-Bar contests -- the one in the video above, actually -- a former coach openly implied that it looked like he was just flipping the puck towards the posts.
I caught him on his phone going back and looking at everyone else's submissions and, yeah, there was definitely an abundance of wimpy puck flips among the submissions...but, in his mind, his shots were not that -- he was ringing them off the posts.
But that coach was right -- his velocity was lacking.
And, boom, that got the snowball rolling.
(Have I mentioned on here before how important coaching is? Yeah, pretty sure I have...)
So, after going through his regular round of shooting pucks, for his last 10 shots each day, he's been utilizing the shot radar gadget we have.
It's not accurate, I don't think, but it is a consistent baseline to work off of.
A couple of summers ago -- prior to the cheap IKEA batteries dissolving all over the insides of it -- he had a goal of getting 10 shots in a row over 30 miles per hour.
That took about a week to accomplish and the quest for a harder shot came to an end.
It's back now, though.
His goal is to boost his average shot velocity to 45 miles per hour with a top shot exceeding 50mph.
Pretty lofty I thought, as on day one, his average shot velocity was merely 33mph.
Yeah, just barely higher than his shot was, apparently, just prior to his first year as a peewee. Ouch.
But, already, his average is now just shy of 38mph...after less than a handful of days.
His high mark for an individual shot has also increased each day.
Basically, he's on the up and up and, using a spreadsheet that I helped him put together, he can see his goal getting closer already.
Circling way back, just as with my financial and weight loss goals, if he sticks with it -- diligence is an important trait -- once he surpasses a benchmark value, like 40 miles per hour on a single shot for instance -- just one single shot over 40pmh -- he'll take off...
His 45mph average goal will come to fruition quickly after that.
Attainable short term goals.
They have to be attainable. They have to be something you can keep track of. They have to be something you actually are willing to work towards. And they can't be so far in the future that you can consider procrastinating.
And that's why working on your shot is such an easy thing to set a goal on! You can check all of the boxes and, even better, shooting is super easy. It's just a muscle memory thing. For both accuracy and velocity -- either separately or concurrently.
I can tell him a thousand times that he can boost his velocity by putting more of his lower body weight into each shot or rolling his top wrist a bit on his follow through or, better yet, utilizing some of the flex on his stick using his bottom hand -- and I've done all of those things -- but instructions don't always lead to success unless you can actually visualize the improvements as they happen.
Based on his upward trend so far, he's already narrowing in on what gives his shot a little more zip.
Boosting his confidence even more, I took ten shots with my trusty old wooden Sherwood PMP 5030 the other night.
I'll spare you my pathetic average -- or maybe just tell you that that radar device is total garbage and can't be trusted -- but I will admit that my highest velocity shot is well within his range...and he knows it.
He'll top it.
Within a couple weeks.
And if there's anything that motivates a kid, it's beating their dad at something.
Better yet, success is contagious -- two days in, his younger brother was on board and pumped to get better too.
I mean, what younger brother doesn't want to outperform their older brother?
And their dad too!
.: Follow up to this post is here...
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» Too Late to Start Hockey? Or too soon?
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