Behind The Scenes

Mag editor: How ‘Goals’ came to be

Stanford QB Andrew Luck is one of the college players writing about his goals for ESPN The Magazine.

Editor’s note: Four college football stars, including coverboy and Stanford QB Andrew Luck, contributed to the goal-setting feature in the latest ESPN The Magazine. What inspired this idea in the college football preview issue? Senior Editor Ryan Hockensmith writes that the concept sprang from personal experience.

As a teenager, I went to a relative’s high school graduation.

The exact details are a little hazy, but I remember being blown away by the commencement speaker’s message.

In his speech, he cited studies that said people who write down a specific goal every day for a year usually achieve that objective.

That day, I started writing down, “By the age of 27, I will be a staff writer at Sports Illustrated.”

That became a 10-second daily event for me, and it was the overarching goal for me as a young man.

It kept me focused on school and a specific professional aspiration, and I couldn’t have written it up any better.

When I graduated from college, I got a job at ESPN as a staff writer, and have been here ever since.

Knowing the impact that had on me (and, apparently, many other people), I wondered this offseason if we could find some college football players who would try it.

It’s a big request: I was a flaky college student who played Tecmo Bowl all day, so even my own goal-writing dwindled once I set foot in a dorm for the first time.

I could understand why some schools and players passed on the project. But four college players — Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Alabama’s Trent Richardson, Miami’s Marcus Forston and Pitt’s Brandon Lindsey — all signed on.

(We also teamed up with ESPN RISE and will be following standout high school RB recruit Keith Marshall, too. His goals and an accompanying story will appear in our next issue.)

They gave us their goals for what should end up being an interesting, season-long project.

Will Luck boost his completion rate by five percentage points?

Can Richardson become more of a team leader?

We will check back in with them throughout the year and see how they’re doing writing them down — and putting them into action.

And at the end of the process, those four college players all mentioned that they’ve found written goals to be very valuable in focusing, visualizing and ultimately achieving exactly what they put down on paper.

Count me as a believer, too.

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