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(Just) For Fun


I was recently working with an athlete and we were reflecting on an exercise I've done with many teams and athletes. The exercise involves brainstorming a list of reasons why you participate in your sport or performance arena. I ask athletes to think about why they started playing, why they kept playing, and why they continue to play. Why this activity and not another? The goal is to come up with a list that can be boiled down to your most important motivators.

What got you started and keeps you going?

I've done this same exercise with many different groups now and, time and time again, we've ended up with a very similar list. Things like stress relief, personal growth and challenge, mental and physical health, feelings of accomplishment, and social connections are often high on the list, but the one most common reason, no matter the age, gender, or competitive level, is fun. When it comes down to it, enjoyment, or a love of the activity, is the single most important motivator for most people.

Enjoyment is the most important motivator for most people

Now I haven't asked this of any professional athletes, but I would wager that any athlete who makes it to that level would consider themselves lucky to be paid to do something that they want to do anyway because they love it. In fact, I would wager that most highly successful people are successful because they are doing something that they love. Take Wayne Gretzky for example who, in his recent film, says, of his early backyard practice, “I’d be out there all day long because I loved it.” And this makes sense too because when we look at types of motivation we know that the strongest, most adaptive, and longest lasting type is intrinsic. Intrinsic motivation basically means that we are motivated by the inherent joy in the activity itself - in other words: fun. (Want to know more about motivation? Check out my post on Understanding Motivation).

Being an elite performer or a professional in your field means getting to do the thing you love more often, and maybe even getting paid to do it!

Stay with me here because this is where we struggle. The athlete I was working with, who was training for a major international competition, was getting hung up on the fact that it's hard work. It was fun at first, but now it's really hard work. Some of you might be thinking something similar. "This is a competitive league, we have to take it seriously." "We're a varsity team, it's not just for fun anymore." "The stakes are too high for us to just have fun." But the fact of the matter is that we perform our best when we are fully engaged in a task we enjoy. Performing well, working hard at something you care about, striving for improvement, working towards a common goal with friends, mastering a new skill, competing at the highest level...these things are fun. You might not have a smile on your face the whole time, you might be in a lot of physical and mental pain at times, you might be doing a lot of hard work even outside of training and competing, but that doesn't mean it can't also be fun.

Effort does not limit fun

When we say "just for fun" we imply that fun can't also be competitive and serious; that fun can't lead to success (or perhaps that enjoyment itself is not success enough); and that something challenging can't be fun. The research, however, tells a different story. To help explain let me use the competence motivation theory (CMT). CMT posits a cyclical relationship in which perceptions of competence and control lead to intrinsic pleasure and effectance motivation, which leads to mastery attempts, competence at optimal challenges, and feedback and reinforcement from socializers. These then lead back to pleasure and perceptions of competence and control. In other words, believing you are good at something and can improve at it feels good and is motivating, and that joy and motivation helps you to work harder and take on bigger challenges. You also receive more positive support and encouragement from others and end up feeling even better and strengthening your belief that you are good and can improve, and, thus, the cycle continues. All of that to say that having fun makes you better and working hard to get better is fun.

Having fun helps you improve

If you're still feeling a bit skeptical, part of the problem may be your definition of fun. Researchers, like Dr. Amanda Visek, have dissected the word fun to try to determine all of the different factors that are encompassed within it. In her ground-breaking study of players, parents, and coaches of boys' and girls', recreational and competitive youth soccer teams, Dr. Visek found 81 separate determinants of fun, which, through mapping, she was able to group into 11 fun dimensions and four overarching fun-damental tenets. If you are involved with youth sports I strongly encourage you to take a closer look at her work yourself (she has also done work looking at what factors make sport not fun and *spoiler alert* a lot of them are things that we as adults do or control), but the point I'd like to take out of this, for now, is that fun encompasses a large and diverse collection of factors.

Working hard and trying your best are two important fun factors

While, in this study, they were able to identify the three most important dimensions as 'being a good sport,' 'trying hard,' and 'positive coaching,' this broad spectrum should remind us that different factors are going to be more or less important for different individuals and within different contexts. Fun evolves over time as athletes and performers become older and more experienced and as the context changes, but, the emotion, I would argue, doesn't change. Fun or joy is something we should all be striving for regardless of age, gender, or experience level - and it's not unreasonable for us to expect to achieve it.

Positive coaching experiences help make sport fun

Take some time to think about what makes sport (or your activity of choice) fun for you, your participants, and your children. Ask yourself, and them, that question, and really listen to what the answers are. Even if you're starting (or hoping to start) something new, ask yourself, "What would make this fun for me?" or "What have I enjoyed about other activities that could apply here as well?" Use those answers to help you make decisions about what activity to choose or how to modify what your involvement might look like. Remember, activities don't have to be just for fun, but they should at least be also fun. Let's change the way we think about fun and start having more of it!

Let me know how it goes, or reach out to me if you have questions or would like to chat.

And if you're still feeling skeptical...check out this article from 1992 (with research going back to the 70s!). We've known for a long time that fun is an important factor keeping kids in sport and the opposite is driving them away. I think it's about time we did something about it.



Petlichkoff, L. M. (1992). Youth Sport Participation and Withdrawal:
Is It Simply a Matter of FUN? Pediatric Exercise Science, 4, 105-110

Visek, A. J., Achrati, S. M., Mannix, H., McDonnell, K., Harris, B. S., & DiPietro, L. (2014). The fun integration theory: toward sustaining children and adolescents sport participation. Journal of physical activity & health12(3), 424-33.


We all win with good leadership


We all win with good leadership

Leadership is one of my favourite topics. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly why, but I have some guesses. The first is that good leadership skills are almost identical to good mental skills. A good leader should be self-aware, focused, motivated, resilient, and confident. They should be a strong communicator and supportive teammate, have a clear vision, values, and goals, and have excellent emotion control. These are all the same skills that help an individual to be mentally strong and to more consistently perform at a higher level. These are all skills that I work on with my clients. Leading is simply another performance venue within which we can apply these mental skills - and yes, everyone can lead.

You don't have to be a driver to be a leader

The second reason I love leadership is that, to me, it is a win-win scenario, and there simply aren't enough of those these days. People who know me well often tease me for preferring cooperative games to competitive ones: modifying the rules of a card game so that we are working toward a collective goal rather than an individual goal at the expense of others. Too many things in life are win-lose. Too many people operate under a win-lose philosophy: that in order for them to win, others must lose. I don't believe this to be true - at least not all the time. And the best leaders I know don't operate this way either. Good leaders don't need to push others down to get to the top - they bring others up with them and redefine what the top is. Good leaders create collective wins where everyone contributes, everyone succeeds, and everyone feels valued. Good leaders create and foster new leaders. They don't need to be at the front; they don't need to be the one with the megaphone; they don't even need to be in charge.

Success doesn't have to be at the expense of others

You may call me soft or silly, maybe naïve, but if you've ever been around a great leader, you will know exactly what I'm talking about. And let me be clear, in no way does win-win also mean lose-lose. I think that is where most of the criticism for 'everybody wins' comes from. Some people, unfortunately, believe that if everybody wins then nobody wins. We need to find a way to feel self-worth without having to diminish someone else's. We need to define success in more inclusive terms than "beating everyone else."

Kids get it - striving for success with friends and teammates is the fun part

It might surprise you to hear that when I work with younger athletes and teams they don't need to be taught this. Sure, they like to win, but the 'winning equals beating others' idea comes from adults - so does the 'success equals winning and nothing else' idea. We need to stop spreading these rumors because they're hurting our kids and they're hurting our society.

It doesn't matter what type of situation you're in either. I've participated in and worked with athletes from both team and individual sports, at everything from recreational to Olympic levels. Good leaders are strong competitors but they don't put much value in beating others alone. They strive for progress, not perfection and celebrate everyone's successes. I have to say I do really enjoy team sports for that shared sense of accomplishment and pride when a team goal is achieved, but some of my best memories of success come from competing in track and field with close friends and rivals where we both achieved personal bests. To be honest I don't even remember who came out on top - I just remember a shared feeling of elation when we saw our times come up. So please, take the initiative, get to know your opponents as well as your teammates and celebrate all successes. Losses are more bearable and wins are more enjoyable when shared with those who have also shared in the pursuit - whether you were pursuing it from the same side or not.

Instead of aiming for the top so that we can push others down and gloat about how high we are, let's aim for the top so that we can pull others up and share with them how we got there. Then together we can climb even higher.

That's what leadership is to me.

When we push each other to our limits we can achieve more than we ever thought possible

Reflection – as Elusive as it is Effective


I started writing this back in January with all the talk of New Year's resolutions and am now editing it in the midst of Olympic heartache and triumphs. We're now long past when most of us do our year-end or New Year reflecting and resolving, and most of us are only experiencing the Olympics from the comfort of our own homes. As invested as we may feel in a certain team or competitor, when the final whistle goes, they cross the finish line, or see their final marks posted, we are just not experiencing those highs and lows the same way they are.

Having said that, this blog is about reflection, and we don't need to be Olympic athletes to have important highs and lows in our lives to reflect on; we don't need to wait for New Year's to reflect on where we've been, what we've done, and how we should move forward. Reflecting may seem like a pretty straightforward and easy thing to do. You might be thinking, "yep, I think about something that's already happened and that's reflecting on it." The truth is, it's a bit more complicated than that, and a lot of the time, when we think we're reflecting, we actually might not be.

Reflection is about more than looking at what is there.

In my line of work we talk a lot about focus, and I like to use something called the 3Ps as a nice reminder of what an ideal performance focus looks like. The 3Ps stand for Present, Positive, and Process: stay focused on what is happening right now (present), what is going well and what your strengths are (positive), and the simple things you have to do to be successful (process). This is great for during your performance, and if you listened to interviews with any of the Olympians you likely heard them say things like "I just stayed focused on what I had to do," or "we're just going to worry about one game at a time."

Once the performance is over, however, we get into a situation much more like our New Year's resolution time. It is important that before we plough forward with new plans, we take some time to look back.  Especially when things haven't gone well, it can be tempting to just forget the bad, ignore our past failures, and either carry on as if it hadn't happened. Or maybe we redirect towards a new goal thinking we can avoid remembering or reliving those difficult times. On the other hand, when things are good, we sometimes would rather just celebrate and move on without thinking about it much further than that. Looking forward and planning for the future with a positive outlook is definitely an important step, but ignoring the past (good or bad) can actually hurt our future planning.

Now, here is the big difference: we don't want to LIVE IN the past, we want to LEARN FROM the past and let that learning INFORM our decisions for the future. We don't want to get stuck ruminating on the past - going over the same thoughts or ideas again and again and again. Reliving situations and feelings from the past and wallowing in the negativity (or basking in the positivity) can keep us from moving forward. Instead, we want to be able to grieve or celebrate for a short time and then reflect on our success and failure to help us determine the best way to move forward. While this may involve reliving the situation and feelings, it should go further than that to consider things like the actions taken by you and others, and the level of control you had over those actions. You can read more about controlling your attributions in my last post 'Heros, Villians, and Attributions.'

In order to really get the most out of our reflections, however, we have to consider more than the event itself. We can do this by asking ourselves questions, taking different perspectives, revisiting past situations after a fresh experience, and comparing current situations and feelings with similar situations from our pasts. We want to compare a single event or time period and our thoughts and feelings related to it, with other experiences, thoughts, and feelings in order to learn as much as we can about ourselves and also the world around us.

Good reflection can help us to see things in a way we never have before.

If you're not sure where to start here's my advice.

1. Start with the facts.

•     Get started by writing down what you remember as the main ideas from the event or time period you are reflecting on. Remember the longer the time period, the more there may be to write about, but the more general you can be as well. If reflecting on a longer period of time, hopefully you have done some smaller reflections within that time (don't wait until the end of the Olympic quadrennial or your entire undergrad to reflect on all four years, instead reflect after each event, season, or year as they come), but, if not, still focus your energy on the bigger picture -  look for patterns and events that stand out the most.

•     Questions to ask yourself: What happened? Who was there? When and where did things happen?

Keep your reflections in one place so you can always come back to them.

2. Fill in your subjective experience.

•     Now you can get away from actual facts and into your experience of the events. These may feel like facts to you but they are your own thoughts, perceptions, and interpretations of the facts.

•     Questions to ask yourself: What were you thinking? How did you feel? What did you imagine other people were thinking and feeling?

3. Compare and contrast.

•     At this step you should look at the similarities and differences not just within this time period or event but between this time period and others. If reflecting on a larger time period, look back at reflections you've done during that time period and ask yourself what has changed?

•     Questions to ask yourself: Have you ever experienced this before? How was this experience the same or different from your experiences in the past? Did (or do) certain feelings remind you of another time or experience in your life? Does this experience remind you of an experience you've heard or read about (real or fictional)?

4. Imagine and connect.

•     This is where some great reflection can happen. Use your imagination and critical thinking to question and try to understand even more of your experience from new perspectives and with new information. You can pretty much ask yourself any question you can think of and include any information you might have to bring your reflection to an even deeper level. You could even question why you are asking the questions you are asking!

•     Questions to ask yourself: How would you feel if you were a different actor in this scenario? How would you want to act if a similar situation were to happen again? What have you read or heard in the past that might support or contradict your beliefs on this topic? How do these other views make you feel about your own opinions and beliefs? What other factors could play a role in a situation like this one? How do you feel now looking back at these facts and experiences - is it the same or different than how you felt at the time and what might have caused it to change or stay the same?

Often, when we think we are reflecting, we don't actually get past steps one and two, which means we're remembering without actually reflecting. If we can give ourselves the time and permission to really delve into some deeper questioning, we can move beyond remembering or ruminating and create an opportunity to learn and grow from our experiences. This allows us to move forward in a healthier and more positive direction.

As a bonus, developing these reflection skills not only helps our self-growth but it also helps to develop important critical thinking skills. Also, the practice of taking other perspectives and questioning our own beliefs can make us more open to new ideas and more empathetic of other people's situations. In other words, a little reflection could make us all better friends, parents, partners, teammates, leaders and more.

Make an appointment with a helping professional or plan a regular time to reflect on your own.

Finally, like anything else, knowing how to reflect does not have any effect unless we actually make or find the time to do it. This might mean scheduling a session with a mental performance consultant or another professional. Having a trained neutral third party can help you take your reflection further than you might on your own. If you don't have access to a professional, a trusted friend can also be helpful, but usually, your best bet is to see how you do on your own first and then bring in outside help to prompt some new perspectives.

Whether on your own or with a helper, a quiet, distraction-free environment is going to be best for this. I'm not saying you need a solo weekend forest retreat, just half an hour with your phone turned off after the kids have gone to sleep, or a few extra minutes in the parked car at the beginning or end of your workday. Some people find they think better when they are active and might prefer to work through some of these questions over a lunchtime walk or morning run - just make sure that if you do your thinking while moving, you leave yourself time to consolidate in writing soon afterwards.

Fresh air and activity can be helpful to get your reflection started - just be sure to make note of your questions and revelations afterwards.

Now you're all set to start reflecting and learning from events in your life. Maybe it's a recent promotion or demotion, or an interaction with a teammate or colleague that is keeping you up at night; maybe you were cut from a team or had a change in your relationship status; maybe you've been trying to make a lifestyle change and don't seem to be having much success. Whatever is going on in your life - take some time to really reflect and give yourself the opportunity to learn from your past and move forward ready to take on new challenges. Let me know how it goes, or reach out to me if you have questions or would like to chat.

winner being announced in a boxing ring

Heroes, Victims, and Attributions


Heroes, Victims, and Attributions

Attributions are the reasons you attribute your success or failure to. We don't always pay that much attention or think that much of them, but, in fact, your attributions can affect your self perception, and, in turn, your attitude towards future challenges. Paying attention to those attributions and being purposeful in making your attributions can change your perception of the world and your confidence and sense of control over your performance.

An easy way to think of attributions is in the form of a story we make up to explain various events and outcomes. Think about a recent situation of success or failure: if you were to write out that story would you be the hero or the victim? Was there an evil villain working against you or just plain luck and circumstances? Did you have a sidekick or were you the sidekick or the one being saved? Most stories can be written several different ways to get to the same outcome, and, often, the story we write is more important even than the outcome itself.

what's your story

Now into the nitty-gritty. There are a few general classifications for attributions, which fall along three spectrums: Internal-External, Stable-Unstable, and Controllable-Uncontrollable. Internal attributions relate to the individual's skills and traits like intelligence, strength, time-management, work ethic, etc., whereas external attributions relate to situational factors like other individuals' skills and traits, weather, luck, technology, etc. Stable attributions involve factors that will remain consistent over time, while unstable attributions are situation or time specific. Finally, controllable attributions hinge on factors that are within an individual's control, for example, effort exerted, or resources utilized, versus factors that are not within an individual's control, which take the blame in uncontrollable attributions. Healthy attributions are those that allow for growth and promote self-worth no matter the situation or outcome: successes attributed to internal, controllable, and stable factors and failures attributed to unstable, internal and controllable factors. Healthy attributions can lead to positive emotions, increased motivation and confidence, and a sense of control over future outcomes. Unhealthy attributions can happen in either extreme: some people avoid taking ownership for failures and often take undue credit for successes while others self-criticize for failures and dismiss successes as unstable, uncontrollable, and external, in other words, luck and the mistakes of others. While completely different, both of these extremes prevent you from learning, growing, and building true confidence.

You might be wondering why this matters because we can't change what happened. The reality is that we are not very good at accurately assessing the factors involved in any given outcome, and, at the end of the day, what matters most (as with everything) is not the reality but our perception of the reality. Researchers have identified some common attributional biases that help us to understand the ways in which we tend to perceive situations. For example a self-serving attributional bias involves attributing more internal, stable, and controllable factors to positive outcomes than negative outcomes. This allows us to feel like the hero when things go well, and the guilt-free victim when they don't. Something called the fundamental attribution error says that we are more likely to attribute success or failure in others to internal factors, such as the individual's character or intent, and ignore or dismiss external and situational factors. This often leads to us building others up as heroes for their successes and can result in our blaming the victim in certain crimes. When attributing factors to our own successes and failures we are more likely to consider the situation or context. In other words, I might say that you succeeded because you're a natural at this, whereas I succeeded because I worked really hard. You failed because you're not very good at this, but I failed because it wasn't a fair competition. Other factors like mental health, confidence in a specific skill set, and experience with the context or situation can also affect the types of attributions we make.

Attributions are learned from the people and situations around us. While you may never have known the term attribution before today, you've definitely been making them every day from a very early age. We can help others to make healthy attributions by modelling that behaviour ourselves and by providing feedback and support that includes healthy attributions. There is a delicate balance between taking responsibility and ownership for our failures and belittling our efforts and abilities, just as there is between celebrating our successes and strengths and believing ourselves to be perfect or invincible.

blank notebook open with pencil

Most of us like to be sure. We like to have a reason, a cause, someone to blame or credit. And we like for this reason to be simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. The truth is, as I've said before, that's not always (or often) the case. It's unusual to find just one factor as the cause of an outcome - if we can even find a direct cause. Unfortunately, that leaves the door open for our minds to make up a story that fills in those blanks. Next time you find yourself secretly or otherwise dolling out credit or blame, take some time to think about all of the factors that could be at play and (evidence or not) pay attention to those that allow for you to learn and grow and move forward in a positive way from the experience, good or bad. This may involve seeking out help from a trusted friend or neutral party with whom you can be vulnerable. It may involve writing out a list of possible stories with varying villains and heroes. It may involve quiet reflection on your own or imagining yourself as a different character in the story and trying to see things from their perspective. Whatever form it takes, remember that our minds will create stories and assign blame and credit either way. It's up to us to intervene enough to oversee the writing process and edit as needed to ensure we're headed towards the ending we want.


Mezulis, A. H., Abramson, L. Y., Hyde, J. S., & Hankin, B. L. (2004). Is There a Universal Positivity Bias in Attributions? A Meta-Analytic Review of Individual, Developmental, and Cultural Differences in the Self-Serving Attributional Bias. Psychological Bulletin, 130(5), 711-747. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.5.711

female youth softball pitcher

Navigating Youth Sport


I hesitate to write this post because I know it is a topic that can be polarizing. I also know that it is a very important topic and one that needs to be spoken about so, I will write this, but with the preface that I am not judging; I realize that most people are really just trying to do what is best and that sometimes it is just hard to know what that is. I truly believe that sport can and should be a positive experience for all involved no matter the level. Bear with me through some scary talk about the risk factors and potential negative outcomes of youth sport (especially competitive or elite youth sport) and I promise we'll end on a more optimistic tone with some tips for how to ensure a positive sport experience for your youth athletes.

The Risk Factors

To start to understand youth sport we have to start with some of the factors that create potentially risky situations for youth in sport. The first one - and most obvious but often overlooked - is that youth athletes are young. Their age alone is a factor that leaves them at greater risk of abuse and maltreatment. Their lack of knowledge, experience, psychological maturity, and resulting inability to think critically, make informed decisions, and consent to the risks inherent in sport, leave them more vulnerable to possible exploitation (Farstead, 2007; Pinheiro, Pimenta, Resende, & Malcolm, 2012). Young athletes rely on adults including parents, coaches, sport administrators, doctors, and other professionals to protect them and preserve their rights while participating in sport. Other risk factors include the professionalization of sport and a focus on winning (Brower, 1979), real or perceived high stakes in competition and adult egos (Brower, 1979; Pinheiro et al., 2012), intensive specialized year-round training and competition (Anderson, Greisemer, Johnson, Martin, McLain, Rowland, & Small, 2000; Farstead, 2007; Schubring & Thiel, 2014), power imbalances in intensive coach-athlete relationships (Farstad, 2007; Gervis & Dunn, 2004; Pinheiro et al., 2012), and a sport ethos that normalizes risk and abuse (Farstad, 2007; Gervis & Dunn, 2004; Pinheiro et al., 2012; Schubring & Thiel, 2014; Stirling & Kerr, 2010).  Any of these factors can create unsafe situations for youth athletes. I also caution parents not to dismiss this with the thought that your child is not participating in an elite or competitive level of sport - many of these risk factors are becoming more prevalent even at lower levels of sport participation. If you have questions or want to know more about any of these factors I encourage you to take a look at some of the references listed at the bottom of this article or contact me to learn more.

Children and youth are at a greater risk for negative outcomes from competitive sport

The Potential Positive Outcomes

This is not to say that youth sport is bad; when it goes well researchers have found many benefits including improved physical health and growth as well as psychosocial and motor skills development (Fraser-Thomas, Côté, & Deakin, 2008; IOC Medical Commission, 2005; Russell & Limle, 2013; Strachan, Côté, & Deakin, 2011; Weber, 2009). In addition, parents continue to enroll their children hoping they will learn many life skills and values through sport; leadership, responsibility, discipline, confidence, and sportsmanship are among the most frequently referenced. While these can all be developed through sport, sport participation does not inherently guarantee their development, and, to make matters more complicated, there are many negative outcomes that can occur from sport participation in combination with the risk factors listed above.

The Potential Negative Outcomes

These negative outcomes can be direct or indirect and all take away from the potential benefits of sport participation for youth. Direct negative outcomes come in the form of relational maltreatment (physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, or neglect) and denial of rights (Sterling and Kerr, 2010). While sexual abuse scandals often make national or international news, it is important to note that it is just one possible negative outcome. For example, neglect itself can be broken into four types: physical, educational, emotional, and social (Stirling & Kerr, 2010). Indirect negative outcomes often include long lasting, residual physical, emotional, and psychological problems such as chronic injuries, eating disorders, low self-esteem and self-worth, anxiety, depression, and restricted identity (Farstad, 2007; Fraser-Thomas et al., 2008; Gervis & Dunn, 2004; Gould, 2013; IOC Medical Commission, 2005; Weber, 2009). Other indirect negative outcomes include loss of motivation and enjoyment, which leads to burnout, dropout, and decreased sport participation in young adulthood (Fraser-Thomas et al., 2008; Russell & Limle, 2013).

Negative sport experiences can turn children away from sport for years to come

What You Can Do

If you're like me, you might see these outcomes and think, "My kid is never playing sports!" But that's a bit rash. I do still believe it is possible for children and youth to have incredible, life-changing, positive experiences through sport when it's done right. So, to finish, here are some things that you can do as a parent or adult involved in youth sport or with youth athletes to help reduce risk and increase the potential for positive youth development.

1. Be supportive and get involved

Go to practices and games and provide positive support regardless of the outcome, encourage but don't force participation, and volunteer as needed to ensure a positive sport environment. A lack of parental involvement or awareness leads to an increased risk of abuse from the unsupervised coach (Pinheiro et al., 2012)

2. Keep things in perspective

Less than 5% of elite youth athletes will ever earn a living through sport (Farstead, 2007) - keep the focus on fun and learning.

3. Leave the coaching to the coach

Kids need parents. Even if you are volunteering as a coach make sure you take the coach 'hat' off when you leave the field.

4. Preserve time for unstructured play alone and with friends or siblings

Let them play, explore, create, experiment, and make-believe without adults. And, sometimes,  join in and remember what it's like to be a kid!

Let them play!

5. Change it up - sport, coach, level of competition

Specialization in a single sport is discouraged before adolescence (Anderson et al., 2000; Gould, 2010). Let your child experience different types of sport and physical activity at different levels and with different coaches and instructors. They will be more likely to  learn new things with each new experience.

6. Educate yourself and be selective in your sport involvement

Increased knowledge and understanding leads to more informed decision making regarding children's participation in sport (Pinheiro et al., 2012). Get to know some sport science research and do your research on a sport organization before signing up. Do they have a Child Protection or Player Welfare Officer? What policies do they have in place to protect youth athletes (i.e. minimum age restrictions, limits on playing time...)? Do they follow the LTAD? Are they a positive and inclusive space? What are their organization's mission and values? What do other parents and players say about their experiences?

Take time to find the sport, team, coach, and organization that is right for your athlete to ensure a positive sport experience

7. Know your priorities

What do you want your child/athlete to get out of this experience? What does your child/athlete want to get out of this experience? Are these the same thing? What are the risks/costs of your child's participation compared to the benefits?

8. Know your responsibilities

The IOC Medical Commission (2005) suggested a list of responsibilities for parents and guardians including the development of a strong support system and the provision of a balanced lifestyle including proper nutrition, adequate sleep, academic development, psychological well-being, and opportunities for socialization. Children have rights to the highest attainable standard of health, to education, to rest and leisure, to play and activities appropriate to their age and development level, and to protection from performing hazardous work (Farstead, 2007). Any person responsible for the care of a child (parents, coaches, administrators) has a responsibility to protect that child from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect, maltreatment, and exploitation.

9. Work with a Mental Performance Consultant or other professional

My job is to be a non-judgemental third party and help athletes to improve not only their performance but also their overall well-being. MPCs and other professionals can provide support to athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to ensure that the athletes needs are being met and rights are not being violated.

What was your youth sport experience like? How about your kids'? Are you doing something to help keep sport as a positive experience for all? If you or someone you know is struggling from a negative experience in sport please contact me - I'd love to help turn that around.

Do you have a topic you'd like to read about? Send your ideas to jocelyn@balancedperformance.ca


Anderson, S. J., Greisemer, B. A., Johnson, M. D., Martin, T. J., McLain, L. G., Rowland, T. W., & Small, E. (2000). Intensive training and sports specialization in young athletes. Pediatrics106(1), 154-157.

Farstad, S. (2007) Protecting Children’s Rights in Sport: The Use of Minimum Age. Human Rights Law Commentary 3. Retrieved from: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/hrlc/documents/publications/hrlcommentary2007/childrensrightsinsport.pdf 

Fraser-Thomas, J., Côté, J., & Deakin, J. (2008). Understanding dropout and prolonged engagement in adolescent competitive sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise9(5), 645-662.

Gervis, M., & Dunn, N. (2004). The emotional abuse of elite child athletes by their coaches. Child Abuse Review13(3), 215-223.

Gould, D. (2010). Early sport specialization: A psychological perspective. .Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance81(8), 33-37.

IOC Medical Commission (2005) ‘Statement on Training the Elite Child Athlete.’ Retrieved from: http://www.olympic.org/Documents/Reports/EN/en_report_1016.pdf

Pinheiro, M. C., Pimenta, N., Resende, R., & Malcolm, D. (2012). Gymnastics and child abuse: an analysis of former international Portuguese female artistic gymnasts. Sport, Education and Society, 1-16.

Russell, W. D., & Limle, A. N. (2013). The relationship between youth sport specialization and involvement in sport and physical activity in young adulthood. Journal of Sport Behavior, 36(1), 82-98.

Schubring, A., & Thiel, A. (2014). Growth problems in youth elite sports. Social conditions, athletes’ experiences and sustainability consequences. Reflective Practice, 15(1), 78-91.

Stirling, A, & Kerr, G. (2010). Sport psychology consultants as agents of child protection. Journal of applied sport psychology, 22, 305-319.

Strachan, L., Côté, J., & Deakin, J. (2011). A new view: Exploring positive youth development in elite sport contexts. Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health3(1), 9-32.

Weber, R. (2009). Protection of Children in Competitive Sport: Some Critical Questions for London 2012. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 44(1), 55-69.

man sitting at edge of canyon

Confident Vulnerability


If there's one thing I've learned in the last few years, especially working as a mental performance consultant - but really in all areas of my life - it's that without vulnerability, nothing will be accomplished to it's potential. I say this because an important part of learning is reflecting on your experiences and being open to feedback. If you can't reflect or accept feedback - both of which require a certain amount of vulnerability to be done well - then you will never be able to adapt, grow, and reach your potential. Like most things, this is easier said than done of course. Most of us have no trouble reflecting and accepting feedback as beginners but, once we've been doing something for a while, and are feeling pretty good about ourselves, it is difficult to maintain the vulnerability necessary to continue to grow. At the same time, I can't even count the number of times I have seen confidence be the one thing holding a person back from reaching her potential. This presents an interesting conundrum: how does one be both confident and vulnerable at the same time?

person walking alone on forest path
Letting yourself be vulnerable can be scary...

Well it may seem like a balancing act but true confidence should allow for - if not enhance - vulnerability. A healthy confidence allows you to be honest with yourself, accept feedback, take responsibility for mistakes and failures, and step outside of your comfort zone; all without becoming defensive, afraid, disheartened, upset, or frustrated.

hiker celebrating atop a mountain in the sun
...but paired with confidence it can take you to places you never knew you could go.

Maddux and Gosselin (2012) discuss this balance with respect to self-efficacy beliefs, which are one's beliefs about one's control and ability to execute actions within a specific domain. Most of us don't use the term self-efficacy in our everyday vocabulary, but it's often what we are referring to when discussing confidence, and, like confidence, if your self-efficacy is too high or too low it can be problematic. Maddux and Gosselin (2012) stated that high self-efficacy is linked to more challenging goals set, increased perseverance in the face of difficulties, and more effective problem-solving. However, self-efficacy beliefs that get too high can result in the relentless pursuit of unattainable goals, complacency, an increase in dangerous behaviours, and a decrease in help-seeking behaviours (Maddux and Gosselin, 2012). In other words, if your confidence is low you may limit your own potential by setting goals for yourself that aren't challenging, and giving up easily when faced with obstacles. Too much confidence, however, can also limit potential, because it can result in individuals setting goals that are unrealistic and being unable to re-evaluate and adjust those goals appropriately or ask for help when needed.

strong man in superman shirt working out
Confidence is often associated with power and strength

Despite this delicate balance, confidence is often portrayed to us as something you can never have enough of: as a goal-crushing, power-posing, superhero or business person atop a mountain. Vulnerability is more often portrayed as the opposite: small, delicate, sad, hiding, naked, alone, and afraid. In other words, something to be avoided. Luckily, with the popularization of research by Brene Brown, in particular, this more negative perception of vulnerability is starting to change. Where vulnerable and confident used to be seen more often as opposites they are beginning to be seen more as complementary to one another.

girl sitting on dock over water with head on knees
Vulnerability often has a negative connotation

From my experience, I would argue that having either one without the other is limiting. Vulnerability without confidence is weakness and confidence without vulnerability is cockiness or false confidence. Just the right amount of each, however, allows you to seek and accept feedback with grace, give feedback with humility, celebrate successes regardless of outcomes, take responsibility for and learn from failures, and collaborate and share experiences in a genuine way. Imagine the way the world could thrive if everyone could do those things.

In order to get there, we need to help each other. By creating and fostering open, honest, supportive relationships we create safe, non-judgmental spaces within which individuals have the ability to be truly vulnerable and reflective without slipping into defensiveness and rumination. With true reflection and a supportive environment, confidence can also develop and grow in a healthy way. The best part is that confident vulnerability is contagious. The more we experience and are exposed to it, the more we and others around us will develop it and benefit from it.

two women doing yoga at sunset by the water
Create a safe and supportive space and time for reflection

Do you or does someone you know struggle to maintain that healthy balance of confidence and vulnerability? Are there certain situations that make it more or less difficult for you?  What does confident vulnerability mean to you? Think about it, talk about it, help yourself, and help others. Share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences with us in the comments or send me an email at jocelyn@balancedperformance.ca.


Maddux, J. E., & Gosselin, J. T. (2012). Self-efficacy. In M. R. Leary & J. P. Tangney (eds.), Handbook of self and identity (pp. 198-224). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

7 closed white doors in a wall

You don’t get to choose your choices


A few years ago my classmates and I got into a debate about the idea of choice. The question was, "Is it fair to say that if you want something you just have to choose to go and get it?" After a long and fairly intense discussion of the different perspectives involved we still couldn't quite say yes or no but we had definitely established that this was not simply a yes or no question. There were far too many factors to consider, and I was left feeling, as I often do in situations like this one, both frustrated with the lack of answer and with the demand for an answer in the first place. You see I grew up loving math and logic and the challenge of figuring something out and knowing that you had found the right answer. I still love the hard, objective, black and white, clear, direct, straightforward, and simple. However, I am continually drawn to the soft, subjective, gray, murky, indirect, complex, and puzzling. Frustrated as I may be, I am intrigued, and I am learning more and more that most matters fall into the second category, whether they indeed start there or are dragged there by context and circumstances.

To come back to our question, the answer seems like it should be an easy, simple, straightforward "yes": if you want something just make the choice and go and get it. You may have heard some motivational quotes, sayings, and videos like this one that seem to support this, including by Will Smith's character in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. And, to an extent, this is true, and can be a helpful motivator for some people. We all have the same number of hours in the day and days in the year; we all get to make choices everyday that affect our future; we are all capable of far more than we may ever know and if we continue to make the right choices and prioritize those choices we can achieve great things.

Seems pretty straightforward right? But when you start to talk to people - when you start to look a little deeper at the context surrounding those choices, and the circumstances of people's lives - you realize that we all have different demands and commitments within those same hours and days; we all have different requirements for things like sleep and down time in order to continue to function in a healthy way; we all have different priorities in life; and we all have different circumstances and obstacles to overcome. It is these differences that make the answer to our question more likely a subjective, complex,  murky "yes…but".

padlocked chain against green wood panels
Life is also full of obstacles and barriers

In the days after our discussion, I happened upon a quote that seemed to help support and explain this "yes…but" answer. The quote says, "You don't get to choose your choices - you just get to make the ones you're given." In other words, if you want something AND YOU HAVE THE CHOICE, just make the choice and go get it. Now that's not to say that you can't make choices that will open up other choices and so on and so forth, but it's just not as simple as we sometimes make it out to be. There are always uncontrollables in life and sometimes those uncontrollables hijack our choices and derail our plans. Remember that the one choice you always have is how you will respond to a situation. You may not be able to make the choice you wanted to, but you can always make a choice to move forward in a positive direction from where you are. To be clear I am not advocating for making excuses or giving up on your dreams because things get hard. I am, however, advocating for self-care, compassion, understanding, and a healthy, realistic outlook.

The second really big caveat I'll add to our initial question is that just because you have the choice does NOT mean it is the right choice for you at the time. Too many people end up feeling guilty because they chose a different path or prioritized another area of life. Just because other people have made that choice, or think you could/should make that choice, does not inherently make it the right choice for you. Your values and priorities in life are your own - don't let anyone make you feel guilty for choosing your own path and pursuing your own goals.


1. You always have a choice - even if it is just your response.

2. You don't get to choose your choices, but you can make choices that will open up more choices in the future.

3. Don't ever feel guilty for making your own choice and prioritizing what is important to you - success looks different for different people.

Have you ever felt guilty for giving up on or not pursuing a goal? How did you move forward and through that guilt? What is the hardest decision you've ever made and what helped you make it? Share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences with us in the comments or send me an email at jocelyn@balancedperformance.ca.

hands making a heart around the sunset

Understanding Motivation


Motivation is a huge topic and one that is common in everyday conversations. How many times have you or a friend said: "I'm just so not motivated to do this!" Or "I need some motivation." The truth is motivation doesn't necessarily work like that and it's not always what we are referring to when we use the word. Motivation is the reasoning behind our actions and comes in all different forms. The confusion or problem occurs when people think of one type as the only real type. For example, a coach who thinks that if they are not yelling at their athletes, they are not motivating them. Or a student who thinks that because they don't inherently love writing essays, they simply are not or cannot be motivated to write one.  Stick with me now cause I'm going to get into the nitty-gritty a little bit and then we'll talk about some tips (if nitty-gritty is really not your thing just go ahead and skip to the tips).

The Theory

If you've studied anything about motivation you've read something by Ryan and Deci. They are the guys when it comes to beginning to understand motivation, and, while there are many theories on motivation and many researchers studying it, I'm going to draw more from Self Determination Theory (SDT) for right now. One of the sub-theories that make up SDT talks about the spectrum of Motivation. Now, it gets a bit complicated, because there are several different ways of categorizing the various levels along the spectrum. It looks something like this:

chart of types of motivation and examples
Spectrum of Motivation

Basically, the further along (or down in this case) the spectrum you are, the better. BUT keep in mind that different types of motivation are going to work for different contexts, and often our motivations fall into more than one of these categories at the same time. External forms of motivation can be strong motivators but as soon as that external source disappears, so does the motivation. Internal motivation comes from within yourself making these types more sustainable. At the end of the spectrum, intrinsic motivation is frequently touted as the 'best'  motivation, and it is typically the most adaptive particularly if the goal is long term behaviour change. This is because intrinsic motivation is the purest form involving actions taken for the sole purpose of the joy inherent in undertaking that action. With that in mind, we will talk more about how we can work towards intrinsic motivation.

There are many behaviours that are healthy, adaptive, and desirable, but that many people do not currently find to be inherently enjoyable. The key is to identify what your motivation is (no matter where you are on the spectrum) and work to activate that motivation at critical moments. You might start by putting in place external motivators until the action becomes enough of a habit that it is incorporated into your identity and you can draw on integrated regulation.

Another important insight from SDT is that humans have three universal, innate needs that, when met, lead to optimal functioning and growth. In other words increasing your perception of these three needs can help to shift your motivation towards a more internalized and autonomous form.

Universal Needs

  • Autonomy - the perception of control over one's own life and decisions; the perception of acting in accordance with one's identity.
  • Competence - the perception that one's actions will affect outcomes; the perception of mastery experienced in a given field.
  • Relatedness - the perception of interaction with, connection to, and caring for and by others.

I realize that's a lot of theory, but I believe knowledge is power and understanding how motivation works can be a powerful tool in harnessing your own. To simplify things a bit though, here are my tips for working towards intrinsic motivation.

On your pursuit of intrinsic motivation...

1. Start where you are

person's legs walking down a path
Wherever you are - start there

As I said above, you don't need to have intrinsic motivation to get something done. Recognize what it is that does or will motivate you. Especially if it's a one-off thing, just use what works and get on with it. If it's a long term change you're looking for, still start where you are and you'll work to build up to a more sustainable and internal type of motivation.

2. Keep track of your progress

open planner with pencil and coffee
Write it down so you can look back at your progress over time

Tracking your progress, whether it's in a journal, on your phone, on a calendar or somewhere else helps to build your perception of competence and confidence and change your identity over time. Looking back and seeing the improvements you've made will help you to believe that your current actions will indeed affect change. As you are more consistent with your actions they will begin to feel more a part of your identity which in turn helps to internalize your motivation.

3. Keep the big goals visible (mountain over tree)

mountain in the distance beyond forest and stream
Your perspective changes the way you see things

One of the biggest struggles people have with motivation is keeping their big long-term goals in mind when faced with smaller but more immediate temptations. An analogy I read recently about this described walking down a path and seeing a mountain looming in the distance (your long term goal) and a tree part way along the path (short-term temptations). When both are far away the tree looks much smaller than the mountain but as you get closer and closer to the tree it becomes hard to see anything else even the much larger mountain in the distance. In order to be successful, it is important to find a way to keep the mountain in your vision even when you are standing right under the tree. In other words when you are faced with extra time in bed, procrastinating with Netflix, or ordering unhealthy fast food, you need to keep your big goal (whether it is getting fit and healthy, being accepted to university or college, or something else) in mind so that you can use it to keep doing the hard work (for example studying for an exam, working out, or making healthy home cooked meals). This might mean a picture posted where you will see it at the right time, a notification on your phone, an inspirational quote or list of your goals above your desk, a note on your grocery list…get creative!

4. Allow yourself some choice

There is not just one way to accomplish a goal, and allowing yourself some choice over how you accomplish it will increase your perception of autonomy and help move your motivation towards a more sustainable form. For example, trying to eat more vegetables? Make a point of allowing yourself to choose a new recipe or a new vegetable to try. Are you working towards being more active? You pick the time and place, the people you are active with, and the type of activity you incorporate. Let yourself personalize your soundtrack and outfit when possible. Even small things can make a big difference in helping you own your experience and, ultimately, find more intrinsic enjoyment.

5. Recruit supporters

three women leaning on each other on a bench at the end of a dock
Share goals with close friends so you can feel that you're in it together

A great way to increase your perception of relatedness is to surround yourself with people who either share your goal or are supportive of it. Helping others and having others who are helping you will help you stay motivated in the long term. Join a team or a support group; talk to friends and family members and let them know how they can best support you; pair up with someone trying to achieve the same goals as you; or reach out and ask for mentorship from someone who's already intrinsically motivated (you'd be surprised how excited most people are to share their passion).

6. Use self-talk (control your perceptions)

Self-talk is a very powerful and versatile tool. Not only can you use it to keep your goals and priorities fresh in your mind, but, with some practice, you can alter your perception just through self-talk without making any changes to your environment. You'd be surprised at what you can convince yourself of and how you can influence your own motivation and behaviour through deliberate self-talk. Our brains are very complex but, surprisingly, very easily influenced.

7. Act when it's easiest

white clouds on a blue sky
Make the best of the good times

We all have good days and bad days the trick is to take advantage of those good times to make the hard times easier. If mornings are easier for you - do your meal prep then. If you feel healthier or more focused after a workout, try doing your grocery shopping or studying right after. Feeling especially energized today? Pull out your agenda or calendar and do some planning. Mornings are tough? Pre-pack breakfast and lunch, pack your bag, and lay out your clothes the night before.

There you go. Seven tips to get you started. The more you use them (and the more of them you use) the easier and more effective each will be. How have you had success harnessing your motivation? What has been your biggest motivational challenge? What aspect of motivation still just boggles your mind? Share with us in the comments or send me an email. I'd love to hear from you.

empty road going off into the horizon

Resolutions and Goal Setting


You might be thinking, "Jocelyn, it's almost March. Why are you writing about resolutions and goal setting?" In that case, I would say, "Read on! There's more to goal setting than New Year's resolutions."

Ok, so there are a lot of articles out there about New Year's resolutions and how to keep them, and how setting goals instead of resolutions is better. It seems like all the information you could ever want is out there, so you might be wondering why I'm writing about this too. The answer is that despite all of this information, many people still don't succeed in keeping their resolutions or achieving their goals; therefore, something must be missing.

Let's start with the basics. The Oxford Living Dictionary defines a resolution as "a  firm decision to do or not to do something" and a goal as "the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result." These two things are not the same, but they do go hand in hand very nicely. The goal provides the direction and target whereas the resolution provides the motivation and commitment to strive for the goal. A resolution on its own is often vague and a goal on its own can lack personal meaning. In order to be successful, it is important to have both the motivation and the target. At the end of the day though, people throw these terms around a lot and often use them to mean the same thing, especially when speaking of New Year's resolutions. For the sake of this article I'm going to talk about goals, but please know that I believe all goals should be made with a resolution to achieve them.

Now if you were to use our friend Google and read a few of these articles with titles like "9 ways to keep your New Year's resolution" and "top tips for successful goal setting," you would find all sorts of advice for how to set yourself up for success. I'm going to try to avoid replicating such a list for two reasons: the first of course is that they already exist, but the second (and perhaps more important) reason is that I don't think that just reading those lists is all that helpful. That doesn't mean this article ends here though; it just means that hopefully, you find my approach to be a bit different.

It's not that I disagree with any of the standard tips, but, while some are pretty standard, others can seem to contradict each other, and at the end of the day we're all different and just because something works for one person (or even most people) doesn’t mean it's what is best for you. In addition, even if you had the perfect list, stating exactly how to achieve success in every area of your life, that knowledge doesn't mean anything until you act on it - and that is often the hardest part.

That said here is my 'list of tips' to help you navigate the overwhelming information out there, start and continue acting on your goals, and, ultimately, get the most out of them.

1. Talk to someone

man talking to woman sitting in office
Talk to someone you can trust

Whether this is an MPC or another professional, your spouse, best friend, parent, sibling, teammate, coach, co-worker, or barista, talking helps for many reasons. There's the typical reason you hear - that by sharing and making your goals public you become more accountable to them - but it's actually much more than that. Talking can help you set more adaptive and meaningful goals in the first place, but there's a catch - don't just talk to anyone. Talk to someone with whom you have or can develop mutual trust - if you can't trust each other, you can't be honest with each other, and if you can't be honest with each other, they're not going to be much help to you despite their best efforts. Talk to people who know you well and share your outlook, but also talk to people who can provide outside perspectives (without judgement) and help you to see things in a new and different way. Finally, if you can't think of anyone in your life like this right now, and you aren't comfortable talking to a professional, try talking to yourself by writing in a journal.

2. Think about all the specifics

The Thinker statue
Take time to think through your plan

Setting specific goals may be the most commonly used tip out there, and for good reason. If your goal is just to be better, it is both the easiest and hardest goal you could come up with to accomplish. Better at what? Better than what? Better by when? Better how? Better why? On the one hand you will never know if you've accomplished this goal, but on the other hand, you could claim that you've accomplished it at any time. So yes, be very specific in your goal setting including creating a plan of smaller steps or goals to help along the way. I usually suggest starting with the big ideas and longer timeframes and working down from there asking yourself questions as you go to get more and more information. This is where talking to someone can definitely help. What do you want to accomplish? What will that look like day to day? When and how will you accomplish it? What might get in the way of you accomplishing this and what could help you? What steps will you have to take to accomplish it? Why do you want to accomplish it and what will your life be like when you do? Koestner, Lekes, Powers, and Chicoine (2002) found that creating specific action plans known as implementation intentions resulted in greater goal progress. Implementation intentions are plans linked to specific environmental cues which help to automatize goal-related behaviours. In other words, it allows you to work towards your goal without as much conscious effort or
decision making.

3. Be flexible, positive, generous, and kind

snail bridging the gab between two rocks
Adapt to overcome challenges

Now that you have this super specific goal and detailed plan in place to accomplish it, it can be very intimidating. While the details and specifics are in place to help us succeed and help us better recognize and celebrate those successes, it often just feels like there are now many ways to fail. This is where the flexibility comes in. Specific goals can still provide a window of success. For example, if your goal (or part of your goal) is to workout 5 days a week, consider making it 3-5 days where 5 is your ideal, but you understand that some weeks might only be 3 or 4, and that doesn't make you a failure. Alternatively, make 5 your average number of workouts a week knowing that some weeks will be better and others worse. Positive, generous, and kind might seem like just good advice for life in general and maybe that's why it applies here too. Be gentle with yourself - change takes time and is never without setbacks, but stay positive - knowing that perfection isn't possible doesn't mean that you can't continue to strive for it and achieve some incredible results. And remember, while it's good to dream big, you don't have to do it all at once. Start with small manageable goals that can gradually build to your ultimate goal.

4. Reach out and keep talking

two hands interlocked
Reach out and support one another

We've established that there may be setbacks. Life happens and things are always changing, so keep talking. Other priorities will try to take over and new challenges will arise that you hadn't thought of. Check in with your helper regularly to update them on your progress, celebrate your successes, commiserate over setbacks, set new goals, and brainstorm solutions to help achieve old ones. As time goes on you may also have more people to talk to who can provide more support and new perspectives; and you may learn more about yourself, which will help you to refine and adapt your goals as you go. Remember all the hokey sayings like "success is a journey, not a destination?" Well, they're true. A goal may be defined as a result, but having accomplished one goal doesn't mean that you just stop there. Depending on the goal you either continue striving to maintain it or set a new goal and begin striving for it. For some people, an event like New Year's, a birthday, anniversary, new job, or new school year helps them to get talking or take action, but an average Tuesday is just as good a time as any.

5. Be authentic

woman jumping in forest with water in the distance
Go your own way

This is another popular tip and, again, for good reason. Setting goals that are important, meaningful, relevant, and exciting to you will increase your odds of accomplishing them (Koestner et al., 2002). I would like to go even further to say that, not just the goals themselves, but the manner in which you go about striving for them should be specific to you. Dr. Seuss has many beloved quotes but the appropriate one here is, "there is no one alive who is youer than you." You are the only person who truly knows and understands all of your unique dreams, values, and quirks. Others can be great motivators, valuable resources, strong supports, and inspiring role models, but, at the end of the day, you are the one living your life. Set goals that will get you closer to your dream life and then strive for them in a way that works with your everyday challenges.

And that's it. Do you have a favourite tip that has helped you in your goal pursuit? Or a big obstacle that seems to keep getting in the way? I'd love to hear about it. Send me an email or share with everyone in the comments section. We're all in this together. Now go get talking and planning and reviewing and goal crushing!


Koestner, R., Lekes, N., Powers, T. A., & Chicoine, E. (2002). Attaining personal goals: Self-concordance plus implementation intentions equals success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(1), 231-244. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.83.1.231