A New Year, A New Plan
OK, so it's the fifth day of January, 2012. If you are like most people, you've probably made a few New Year's Resolutions: lose a few pounds, exercise more, spend more time with family, or start a new business venture. Perhaps you have others that are important to you in the New Year.
Do you ever make Fishing New Year's Resolutions? I've been fishing tournaments pretty seriously for about ten years now. If you've read some of my previous blogs, you know I don't take myself too seriously, or claim to be able to take down KVD any time, any where. But, I have been fortunate over my time in the local and regional tournament game to have posted a respectable resume and to have won a few events. I attribute a lot of my modest success, not to a secret technique, or special "honey hole" but to self-assessment, planning, and goal setting.
About ten years ago, I came across this mail-order newsletter-thingy on the internet. This system guaranteed better fishing results, more sponsors, and improved strategy, etc. To be honest, I don't even remember what it was called and they never said who wrote it- some guy named "Patrick" signed each newsletter. Anyway, I was a sucker and paid the $150 bucks or so for 24 issues of this newsletter, and while I'll admit some of it was kind of hokey, there were some pretty strong sports psychology-based ideas about goals, planning and visualization. Being relatively new to tournament fishing, extremely competitive by nature, and completely engrossed with wanting to be a successful tournament angler, I soaked in all of the information and advice from this somewhat mysterious source. One of the primary points made in these articles was to assess where you are, know where you want to be, and establish very specific steps that need to be taken toward achieving your goals.
Most any motivational speaker worth his salt will tell you that the best way to not accomplish your goals is to plan insufficiently or, as I have heard it said, “Aim at nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.” So, armed with my $150 motivational bass tournament newsletters and my burning desire to be successful in the tournament world, I started making a very specific, written list of my goals and steps to accomplishing them. Here I sit some nine or ten years later, and I can tell you that I have accomplished and exceeded most of them.
My point with this is, if 2012 is the year that you want to break out of the pack in your bass club or in your division of the BFL or Weekend Series, or in the EvertStarts or Opens, or even at the very highest levels of the sport, you'd do best to set some goals and then map out a path to achieving them and I don't mean saying "I'm gonna catch ‘em better this year."
Let's walk through a few examples. Let's say your goal is to win the angler of the year at whatever level you fish. Write down, "In the next __ years I will be angler of the year in the _____ division/circuit.". Ok, so we have a written goal, what next? How are you going to get there? Be as detailed as possible in establishing a plan. You might have 5 steps, you might have 500 steps. As we think about writing out steps to achieving a goal, a very important consideration is self-assessment. What do you need to improve to reach your goal?
I started the self-assessment process by writing out a list of strengths and weaknesses, as many as I could possibly come up with (the list of weakness was much longer!). For example, I consider myself to be pretty good at ledge fishing, finding fish using my electronics, and adapting to new water. I am terrible at sight-fishing, patterning pre-spawn fish, and having the patience for finesse fishing. Obviously, my original list was much, much longer, including lakes that gave me fits and other techniques I needed to improve. Then, I systematically tried to address areas in which I was weak in my plan. I decided that I would spend two days in the spring, not in a tournament, doing nothing but sight fishing. I looked at lakes on which I had poor performance in the past and how I had attacked them, and decided to change my approach completely. I spent some time in the winter fishing a shakeyhead in 40+ feet of water. While these attempts to improve didn’t suddenly make me a bed fishing or finesse guru, they most definitely added tools to my arsenal that I now have the confidence to use, and have used effectively in tournaments many times since.
Another goal-setting tip is to take baby steps. I won't discourage anyone from setting the goal of winning the Bassmaster's Classic, but if that's your goal, you had better make some logical steps to get there. What are you going to do today that will help you make it being Classic Champ? Tomorrow? Next Week? Step one might be, "I am going to read one 'how to'" article everyday.” Step two might be, “I am going to attend a seminar on using my electronics.” Step three could be, "Next week I am going to spend one day fishing in cold water to better understand winter bass patterns." I could go on and on, but I hope my point comes across here. Any goal or resolution you make for yourself will be extremely difficult to accomplish if you don't have a very specific plan to accomplish it. As time goes on, some things get checked off the list and the plan gets revised, so do our goals.
So, make some New Year's Resolutions that will improve your fishing this year. Write them down. Read them everyday. Assess what you need to improve, and list some logical achievable steps that will ultimately get you where you really want to be.
Until next time, keep chunkin' and windin',
BoatUS ANGLER Pro-Staff
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