5 Reasons Why it is Important to Allow a Perfectionist Athlete to Set Goals that might seem Unrealistic

Allowing a perfectionist athlete to set goals that might seem unrealistic can have several potential benefits for their performance, personal development, and their teammates. Here are five reasons why this can be important:

1. Motivation and Drive
Perfectionists thrive on challenges and pushing their limits. Setting unrealistic goals can serve as a powerful motivator for them to consistently put in their best effort and strive for excellence. The desire to achieve these ambitious goals can fuel their determination to work harder and overcome obstacles.

2. Skill Improvement
Unrealistic goals often require a level of skill development and refinement that goes beyond the athlete’s current capabilities. Pursuing these goals can drive them to focus on improving various aspects of their performance, from technical skills to mental strategies. As they work towards these challenging objectives, they’ll naturally enhance their abilities.

3. Resilience and Adaptability
It can help them learn from failure. When perfectionist athletes fail to achieve their goals, they often see it as a personal failure. However, if they are allowed to set unrealistic goals, they will learn that failure is a normal and important part of the learning process. They will learn to adapt and grow from each experience. This can help them develop resilience and a willingness to take risks, which not only benefits their athletic pursuits, but translates to other areas of life.

4. Developing a Growth Mindset
Perfectionist athletes often have a fixed mindset, believing that their abilities are set in stone. However, when they set unrealistic goals and achieve them, they start to realize that they can improve with hard work and dedication. This can help them develop a growth mindset, which is essential for continued success.

5. Personal Growth and Confidence 
The process of pursuing ambitious goals, even if ultimately not fully achieved, can lead to significant personal growth. Perfectionist athletes may develop a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, gain self-awareness, and improve their self-confidence. When they are allowed to set unrealistic goals, they can learn to enjoy the journey of improvement. This can help them develop a more positive attitude and a greater appreciation for the learning process, regardless of whether the original goal was met.

While setting unrealistic goals can be motivating, there’s a risk of burnout or persistent frustration if these goals consistently remain out of reach. Coaches and mentors should provide guidance to ensure that the athlete’s goal-setting approach is healthy, adaptable, and aligned with their overall well-being. With the right guidance, perfectionist athletes can use unrealistic goals to their advantage and achieve great things.

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