|Why Short Term Goals Are Important|
Me back in 2012
I was 192nd in the men's rating positions and by the end of the year I had reached 71st. A considerable increase. At the end of the year I hadn't made the national team, I was still quite a way off. I looked back on the year and thought in hindsight. I hadn't done enough. I could have done more. The next year I endeavoured to try harder. I trained an extra 1-2 times per week at 5:30am with one of the country's top ranked players. I represented New Zealand in the Under 21 and Men's individual events at the Oceania Championships. It was a moderate success. I was moving closer to the top 50 but I didn't make it. Again I looked back as the end of the year neared and thought, there was more that could have been done. Two years had passed and I hadn't achieved my major goal.
Each year I always looked back and thought so much time had been wasted. I was a late starter already and I had to put in a lot of hard work to catch up to my peers by the time I moved to University. I didn't have more years to waste.
In my third year of university I set 5 short term goals. One of them was to win an under 21 men's singles title at a tournament. I failed. I was working hard to achieve that goal. I made the final in one tournament. Despite my failure at that short term goal I went one further, I successfully won my first Men's Singles title. I had tasted success by evaluating myself more frequently. This was also a confidence boost moving forward.
Updated: Eventually after battling health issues for a few years, I gave myself 2 years (starting in 2015, to achieve my goal or give it up), that ultimatum made me really evaluate how hard I was working and what needed to be done further. I trained in both China and Europe during those 2 years and went on to compete at 3 World Table Tennis Championships.
Me winning my first men's singles title in 2011 at the Northland Open
How to Avoid Disappointment in Hindsight:
You can't just create one major goal and not break it down into shorter term goals or at least points of evaluation. Perhaps you can look back on a week and say that wasn't enough, next week I need to work harder. This way you are in a constant state of improvement.
A sportsperson, like any ordinary human being, should look to constantly better themselves. A constant state of constructive critique and self-evaluation are necessary in short term periods in order to reach a long term goal.
Look at it this way. You think you are working hard. Are you working harder than your teammates? Are you working harder than everyone at your club? Are you working harder than the people who are also competing with you to reach the same goal?
If the answer is no, you need to change something. If someone is working harder than you, then you are not doing enough.
If I could go back and have those years to train again, I would do things completely differently and could probably increase my potential output a great deal. Don't wait until you start tasting the sour taste of failure to evaluate and change things, create short term goals and evaluate more constantly in order to improve yourself steadily over the period of your long term goals.
So I say to you now. Don't live in hindsight, make the best of yourself today, or tomorrow, but don't wait until failure strikes you down to make the changes you need now!