How would you like to improve your focus, concentration, motivation, and potentially become a better poker player more quickly and efficiently? I’m going to outline 4 reasons how goal setting can help you do just that!
Reason #1: Goals direct attention towards the important elements of poker, which can help you maintain focus and concentration more effectively on what it is you need to be doing.
For example, let’s say that you set a specific goal to improve your play from the big blind. Your focus will naturally be heightened for the particular skills that you need to improve, such as learning what your calling ranges should be from the big blind. In game then, you will be more focused when it’s your BB on assessing and playing your new and improved ranges. You may also find yourself paying a lot more attention to how your opponents are playing their BBs.
As a side note, Dr. Robert Weinberg's research with athletes has confirmed that the primary reason that they set goals is to provide both direction and focus to their actions both during practice as well as in competition.
The human brain was designed to be extremely teleological (or goal seeking). So give it something to work towards, and your focus and concentration will naturally improve!
Reason #2 & #3: The second reason that goal-setting works is because goals mobilize our efforts by increasing our motivation. A third and related reason is that goals prolong our persistence.
Let me explain how this can work. Let’s keep with improving big blind play as our example. Suppose you’ve outlined a study process for improvement, that you believe will require 25 hours of active study time. Such a big project might lead to overwhelm and procrastination. You might not want to work on studying your big blind play on any given day and may even find it difficult to muster the enthusiasm to do so.
However, if you divide the necessary amount of study time into short daily chunks and use that as a daily goal, you will have tasks that seem more reasonable. So, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate. I think most people find 20 minute study sessions infinitely more doable than 2 hour ones!
Similarly, let's say you have a goal to lose 50 pounds, but it seems like an insurmountable goal. By dividing your goal into subgoals of losing only 1-2 pounds per week, you’re much more likely to stay motivated and stick with your program. It is easy to track your efforts and to see progress, when you go really small in your efforts. The overall goal is large, but breaking it down is more manageable.
Reason #4: The 4th reason goal setting works is due to the fact that setting goals often fosters the development of new learning strategies.
This is an advantage that is not often talked about, but if you think about it, goal setting encourages us to learn new strategies.
Let’s go back to our big blind example. You are going to have to come up with new strategies, in order to improve your big blind play. This might lead you to read some articles, watch some videos, or perhaps even get coaching. By doing so, you’re going to be in possession of a variety of new strategies that can help you play your big blind better.
Interestingly, there have been studies that show athletes who are high in goal-setting ability demonstrate less anxiety, higher confidence, as well as, improved performance in their competitions.
Having goals appears to influence performance indirectly through effects on various psychological states. While this type of research has not been done with poker players, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to believe that goal setting might work in a similar fashion for our benefit.
So there you have 4 really solid reasons to add goal setting to your mindset training agenda.