Dreaming is easy. We all hope, want or expect something in our lives. I know from personal experience that deciding to pursue something is quite simple. It is also one of the qualities that describes us as human beings. In orienteering, it can be anything: from how to overtake this and that opponent next year, become the best in Lithuania, to win JWOC or similar. And even if unknown is part of the charm of the pursuit itself, we often don’t even realize how much work we will need to put into achieving our goals. Like I wrote in The "Sand Box“ King , it is possible to achieve goals without much of a effort in the youth or junior classes if you are lucky. However, this time passes imperceptibly quickly, and sooner or later it is not enough to just dream and hope to succeed again.
This time I want to share an experience that is unusual for me personally - planning. Not how much and how to plan workouts, and difficult or easy weeks, but how to put together a dream, a goal and prepare the project to achieve that. Here I was helped by Jan Berggren, who has many years of experience working in different management groups and is the coach of the men's team at my Swedish club OK Denseln. Directly after announcing my desire to take orienteering seriously, I received a call from Jan and we immediately agreed on a date for the first meeting.
We started with the two simplest questions - what is my vision and what is my goal. Try and write your dreams on paper - I recommend. It seems so simple that we never even think about it. But I was left surprised. What seemed so clear in my mind turns out to be a daunting task to formulate in writing. We had a serious discussion, but after a while we achieved a good result. VISION: EXPLORING THE LIMITS OF MY POSSIBILITIES IN ORIENTEERING AND GOAL: WIN A MEDAL AT THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2023. It is important to note that the vision is based on the pursuit of performance, and the goal is more on the outcome. There is a big difference between thinking at the junior age where all thoughts revolve around the outcome and current ideas more focused on the performance. We hope this should ease the psychological burden in the event of a negative result… In other words, if at the end of the race I don’t reach the goal, I will still know that I did everything I could to prepare for the start. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in my goal, it means I understand the complexity of the situation and know that the outcome ultimately depends not only on my personal performance, but also on my rivals - something I can’t influence.
After formulating the vision and goal, I felt I had done more in my planning than ever before, and Jan just warmed up! Okay, the four-year goal is set. How do we achieve it? Need goals along the way!, he says. Knowing where you are at the moment and where you want to be after a certain amount of time is not that difficult to graduate the time interval between these two points and put together the short term goals. This gives at least two effects. First, you find out if this is at all possible by looking at the time available for the preparation. Second, it allows you to focus on the things that need to be done today. In other words, we have put together milestones towards the main goal. During 2021, run 10km in 31:00 and 3km in 8:20 (physical goal), take the TOP 20 place in the World Championship (result goal) and achieve 15 points on the "Algirdas scale" for certain technical characteristics (orienteering technique goal). During 2022, run 10km in 30:00 and 3km in 8:10 (physical goal), take the TOP 10 place in the World Championship (result goal) and achieve 18 points on the "Algirdas scale" for certain technical characteristics (orienteering technique goal). These distances reflect fairly well the distances run in orienteering, and the times mentioned are demonstrated by the current World Champions. Of course, this is more of information for comparison and both distances and times may change as needed.
To date, we have already had 7 planning meetings, and we are still finding something to improve or add. On the other hand, I have no doubt that the revision and adjustment of this document is its essence - to grow with my development. I would share the original plan document, but it is written in Swedish, so I think it will be of little use to you.
In addition to vision, long and short term goals, it is very important not to forget a few more things. First, identify the steps that need to be taken to achieve each of the planned milestones. For example, in my case, follow Anders ’physical training plan or do at least two strength workouts a week (to achieve the physical goal). Analyse the locations of upcoming championships and make a number of camps in similar locations (to achieve the result goal). Or do 4 orienteering sessions per week (to achieve the orienteering technique goal). And I mean not just taking the map in your hands and run, but working with specific moments. Some examples could be: control taking, holding a direction, or just training, at the highest possible speed to simulate competition situations.
Secondly, it is very good to analyse possible obstacles and solutions to them. For example, the financial situation - the annual costs of camps, competitions, coaches, inventory and similar. How will this be funded by the club, sponsors or from personal savings? Another example could be accessibility to forest and training canters. How far is it to the forest and maps? What type of terrain predominates around? What kind of transport can be used to get there and similar? It is important to think of who could provide emergency care in the event of an injury. Insurance maybe required. After all, it would be uncomfortable to get injured a few months before the start of the main goal and start thinking - where is the best place to go now? There can be a lot of aggravating circumstances, and a lot to think about. Taking some time and wondering about possible scenarios can help you both avoid potential problems and help resolve them more quickly when they arise.
In the end, success factors are very good thing to list as well. What may seem like a meaningless thing to do once, has the greatest impact on achieving your goals in the long run. For example, my list includes recovery, nutrition, prevention of injuries and illnesses, a simple lifestyle, and good teamwork. Identifying your success factors will give you a really big step towards your goals. Next, of course, you will have to do it so that it do not stay just words on paper.
There is really much to think about - a dream / goal, a list of milestones, long-term and short-term actions, possible obstacles and success factors. I believe that this is beneficial, and the complexity and seriousness of it all depends on each of your wishes and goals. The most important thing is not to be afraid and dare to start. Have you never done something like this? Start simple, just write down your thoughts on paper, and then, everything will fall into place over time. Your goals will take shape and become a real life project.