January is the month of resolutions. New year, new mood, new you. It feels like a chapter in your life has ended and a new one is beginning. Which means you can start anew! For some people that means quitting smoking, for others losing some weight or working harder… The list is endless!
Even though most of us come up with some sort of goal at the beginning of the year, the truth is that those goals are often forgotten shortly after. We kind of give up and before we know it, another year has gone by and we haven’t achieved what we set out to. I don’t think that all those who don’t reach their goals are necessarily lazy or didn’t work hard enough. The problem often lies within the goal itself: sometimes it is unattainable.
Especially in poker, people ask me frequently how to set goals. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’ll share with you some tips that I picked up along the way (mostly through trial and error).
1. Be true to yourself
This may appear to be obvious, but trust me it’s not. In the poker world we see a lot of people being driven by the will to take down big tourneys, make as much money as possible, beat the competition or grind a lot of VPPs on PokerStars. Just because those are the most common poker aspirations doesn’t mean that this is necessarily what you want. Maybe what you really want to get from poker is to have fun. Or maybe it’s to learn as much as you can about the strategy of the game. Whatever your motivation, it will be way easier for you to achieve your goals if they fall within the correct mindset – your mindset, not someone else’s.
2. Have a plan
Saying that you want to achieve something does not automatically make it a goal. In fact, making a statement like “I want to go for Supernova this year” isn’t anything more than dreaming out loud. In order for your dream to become a goal, you need to form a plan. When you have a well-thought plan of how to get what you want, that’s when you have a goal. For example saying “I’ll work 20 days per month and earn 420 VPPs per day in order to get to Supernova by the end of the year”, is a goal.
3. Depend only on yourself
Now don’t get this the wrong way. I’m not saying that poker is a lonely journey and you should do it all by yourself. Nor am I saying that you should not get the help of other, more experience players. Of course you should and if there’s anyone willing to help you in achieving your goals (whether it is a friend that also plays the game, a poker coach or a forum community) it would be silly to turn them down.
However, the goals you set should depend on you and your efforts rather than outside factors that you don’t control. Saying for example “I’ll make $1000 this month” is not really a poker goal. You may even have a plan on how to do it, but the truth is that it’s out of your hands. You may be the best player at the games you’re playing and still run bad. You could make those $1000, you could make $300 or even lose money because of variance. The point is, money is an excellent motivator but it is not an outcome that you can control so there is no point aiming for it. Go for concrete things that depend entirely on you such as reviewing X hands per day or playing Y hours per week.
4. Keep it realistic
All throughout the goal-setting process you need to be realistic. Everyone has limitations, be sure that you are aware what yours are. Sure, you wanna go for Supernova Elite and have carved a plan to do it, but can you realistically only take one day off per month if that’s what it takes? Or, can you put in 12-hour days when you work so that you can take some extra days off? Maybe your goal is to play 4 hours of poker per day which doesn’t sound excessive, but can you do that on top of your full-time job and your 3 kids? No matter what your goals are, they need to be realistic (same goes for your plan).
I feel like #4 is actually where most people fail. Carried away by the enthusiasm of a new year and the new possibilities, we often overestimate our capabilities and what we are willing to do or sacrifice. As the original enthusiasm gradually fades, we fall back into our previous patterns and realize that our goals seem impossibly far away. But as long as our goals are realistic and take into consideration the points I made above, I think it will be more likely for us to achieve them.
Lastly, even if at some point we feel like we want to re-evaluate our goals or our plan of action that’s perfectly fine. It’s better to make adjustments than to give up entirely. And if at the end of the year we find that we didn’t manage to do everything we wanted… Well, that doesn’t mean we failed. Our effort was not lost because we learnt something new and gained experiences that we can use to try and reach the same or different goals next year. Personally, I don’t see my yearly goals as a list that I need to check off. I see them as a way of pushing myself forward and I feel satisfied as long as I improved during the year that went by. After all, it’s the journey that counts and not the destination!
If you’re looking to make your own poker goals go to PokerSchoolOnline to find out how your poker goals can be realised in 2016. You might even win a few prizes along the way.
Katerina ‘Katerina289’ Malasidou is a member of PokerStars Team Online.