Why ‘Homerun Goals” Are How I Do Goal Setting

homerun goals

While I was at the gym yesterday working out, I noticed a woman who appeared to be struggling to complete her cycling exercise.

I’m a regular in the gym and have never seen this woman before, so I knew a healthier lifestyle was likely a New Year’s goal for her. After stretching I made it a point to stop by her bike and give her a little encouragement on her finish. I pointed at her, smiled, and told her that she was doing a great job and to keep it up.

She thanked me and said that she was really trying and she wasn’t going to give up this time. She said she had these outrageous goals for herself. Me, being the sports minded, performance-enhancing individual that I am became interested. I asked her what these “outrageous” goals were. The example she gave me was being able to ride on the State Fair rides with her son. While I sympathized with her in the moment, I explained that goal was not outrageous and I briefly introduced her to my favorite idea behind goal setting: homerun goals.

The term “homerun goals” is something I first heard while working with Dr. Rob Bell in Indianapolis. The expression resonated with me because softball was a sport in which I excelled and homeruns were my forte.

Despite the name, homerun goals are used for any sport and potentially various situations throughout life where one needs to progress. Homerun goals are goals that allow a person to work towards success, but don’t negatively affect them overall if they are not achieved. When a batter steps up to the plate they always “want” to hit a homerun, right? It’s a goal a lot of players have, to hit the long ball. It’s typically a worthy goal. However, no one knows a player successfully hits a homerun during a game unless they are at the game or are told by the player. Statistically, a homerun is scored as a hit just like a single or even a bunt. Though a homerun is a huge hit, it does the same exact thing to a player’s batting average as hitting a single. Striving to and actually hitting a homerun is a great accomplishment, but falling short and hitting a single or double does not negatively affect a player’s overall game statistically. They will be 3-for-3 on the day whether they hit three homeruns or three singles.

Patterns of goals athletes or teams maintain are things like being 65% at the foul line, having a winning percentage of at least 0.500 at the end of the season, having a pass completion of 60%, or making less than ten errors in each set of a volleyball match. Some examples of homerun goals are things like beating an opponent you shouldn’t, beating out a “better” teammate for a starting position, or coming back from being behind in a game to win. These homerun goals are all ambitions for progress and success for an athlete or team, but accomplishing these or failing to achieve these does not define the athlete or team. Not reaching a win percentage of 0.500 will frequently appear more detrimental to a team than not beating an opponent they shouldn’t. Similarly, a quarterback will likely struggle more with not achieving the set goal of a 60% pass completion than he will with not beating out a “better” teammate for a starting position.

Homerun goals in everyday life that could be used for achieving a healthier lifestyle are things like saying something positive to yourself daily or recording your thoughts and behaviors weekly regarding your lifestyle change. Habitual goals that people set for a healthier lifestyle are reaching a certain weight by a specific time, exercising five days a week, or not eating after 7 p.m. Most likely, someone will feel more unsuccessful when they miss a week of exercise as opposed to missing a week of recording their thoughts and behaviors about their lifestyle change. Both goals can lead to a healthier lifestyle, however, one potentially has less damage on an individual overall when not attained.

Homerun goals allow an athlete or person to be motivated and attempt greatness, and if they do not achieve their goal they will typically be less affected and able to maintain their confidence. It’s similar to the quote by Norman Vincent Peale, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”