Goals- Learning How to Set Them Part Three

person stepping up the stairs

Goals and Setting Them Part Three

GOAL-SETTING! Goals are one of the most common and important aspects of mental performance. Therefore, goal-setting will be split into three parts: SMART Goals, WOOP Goals, and Creating a Goal Ladder. In this last part, we will be going over how to create a Goal Ladder. A Goal Ladder is a way to combine SMART and WOOP Goals into an organized goal-setting, obstacle-crushing ladder. A Goal Ladder can be created in just four steps and it breaks a large goal into smaller goals while also allowing you to prepare for potential obstacles.

Creating a Goal Ladder


Step One: Identify the main goal that you are trying to achieve.  Make sure it is a SMART goal! Once you identify this goal, put it on the top rung of your ladder. 

green goal ladder with main goal written in blue on top rung

Step Two: Think about 2-3 smaller goals that will help you achieve your big goal. They can be a technical smaller version of your big goal (a skill, smaller version of your goal, etc) or it can be something that helps motivate you/keeps you working towards as such as setting an alarm or filling out your calendar. Add these to the rungs of your ladder working up to your big goal.

green goal ladder with 2-3 subgoals written on rungs leading to main goal written. all written in blue


Step Three: Just because we have a plan doesn’t mean that plan is going to go perfectly as we work towards a goal. Sometimes there are outside influences (injury, cancellations, delays, etc) or unexpected changes that make you have to adjust your rungs (sub-goals). This is okay! Just like it is okay if you have to make alterations to your smaller goals (rungs). Therefore, it is important to think of these before they happen, so you are prepared. So, think of 2-3 things that could break a rung on your ladder and 2-3 ways that you can fix your rungs if they get broken. Write both of these down next to your ladder (This is the second “O” and “P” in WOOP).

goal ladder with goals written plus to the right are potential obstacles and plans to overcome those obstacles

Step Four: Put your goal ladder in a place that you will look at it each day. This could be on your wall, set as your screensaver on your phone/computer, in your locker, etc. When you look at it everyday, make a note about your progress and when you complete a rung (sub-goal), you can cross it off! Again, we recommend you share your goal with your coach, a teammate, friend, or parent/guardian to serve as an accountability partner.

Content Created by Kathryn Colby, M.Ed.

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