BARKER: You can’t have too many goals

My grandson loves basketball more than anything … well, except eating.

After watching him play basketball from about 5 years old, when points were not kept and the pace was furious, through the ranks to currently starting for his high school, I’ve collected a lot of pictures of basketball goals. Over the years, while walking around the neighborhood I’ve taken a picture of a little plastic goal right next to a 10-foot goal (brother rivalry), or a goal attached to the side of a house or garage. I’ve even stopped along the road to take a picture of an odd goal — a goal without a net, a rotted backboard, a goal nailed to a tree or telephone pole.

Goals come in many different conditions, anchored to many different sources, some functional and some not, some cared for and others clearly neglected.

After accumulating a collection of pictures, I decided to do a collage of basketball goals for my grandson.

It seemed right that a 16-by-10 collage needed a motto or inscription. In my mind I started coming up with thoughts like, “You can’t have too many goals,” “Goals come in many shapes and sizes,” “You gotta have a goal to shoot for,” “How good are your goals?”,  “We all need goals in our life,” and many other clichés and variations. The dictionary defines a goal as the target area in a sport, a successful shot at a goal, or an aim.

In life and business, a goal is a desired result you want to achieve and is typically broad and long-term. There are four different types of goals: stepping-stone goals, short-term goals, long-term goals and lifetime goals.

First consider what you want to achieve and then commit to it. Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals that motivate you, and write them down to make them feel tangible. Then plan the steps you must take to realize your goal, and cross off each one as you work through them.

Back to my teenage grandson: I’d like to encourage him to set goals to guide his basketball and his life. “Why do we need goals?” we ask. The first answer that pops into my head is something I heard long ago: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

Without goals we may go nowhere or may go in the wrong direction, weaving, wasting time, getting lost. We wander aimlessly, and for a teenager that can be dangerous. To avoid life’s potholes, pitfalls, roadblocks, cliffs and missed opportunities, goals are essential. They don’t have to be complicated, but you can’t beat being “smart,” directed and committed as you walk through life.

If life were as simple as a basketball game, we could get in shape, practice a little each day, get with our coach for instruction and motivation, join in with like-minded teammates and hit the court. We’d know we’re not expected to hit every shot, make every pass perfect, or steal every opponent’s dribble or block every shot, but we’d also expect team and coaches to be on the same page, committed to each other giving our best effort, encouraging each other and enjoying the game.

We can’t have too many goals. But we do want a good basketball goal — round and level — with a sturdy goalpost and backboard, a proper net and good dribbling surface. With the proper equipment, coaching, teammates and goals, we’ll be able to enjoy the game and enjoy life a little better.