I’d like to talk a little about goal setting.  Does everyone do it, probably not.  Should everyone do it, probably not.  Why is it important you might ask?  The answer is in how you perceive your success.  Without having some expectations prior to starting competitive cooking, or competitive anything for that matter, how can you ever measure a degree of success and judge how satisfied you are with your performance?  The interesting part about goal setting is not only does it give you a gauge to measure success, but it also sets you up for failure.  Yes, set a goal, you don’t achieve it, you failed.  It’s how you rebound from this failure that becomes the measure of how effective you are at chasing your long term goal. 


Honestly, I struggled with this when I got started in competition bbq a couple years ago.  Hey, I just wanted to go out there and have fun.  Cook some food and get measured up against others who share in this passion.  But something clicked.  Something sparked me to find a means to get beyond the satisfaction of merely completing a competition.  For some, that is a totally legitimate and reasonable goal, it’s where most of us started.  But like every other goal in life, BBQ goals are allowed to evolve. 


I’d venture to guess that everyone who cooks more than one contest wants to someday cook in the Jack Daniels Invitational.    That’s a goal.  But it can’t be achieved until you win Grand Champion at a qualifying event.  That’s another goal.  In all likelihood you’re not going to win that until you win a category, or start doing very well in at least 3 of the 4 categories.  Still yet another goal.  See how easy this is? 


Starting on competition week Mondays, I begin to tell my teammates and family that this is the beginning of our Grand Championship contest…usually somewhat tongue in cheek.  I get a lot of “ohhhh Daddy, sure it is” as her cute eyes roll around into her head and she sighs in disbelief.   Sometimes I think the only person who’s on board my GC bandwagon is my partner, but we all have fun with the banter throughout the week.  And the goals constantly change throughout the contest so usually by 1:35p on Saturday, my only remaining goal is to have a respectable showing and to not embarrass myself.  And the goal modification doesn’t end there.  The grand champion moniker still eludes, so I have to find some other success…top 5, which often eludes…top 10, there some goals met, sometimes.


Some may contend that when a hobby becomes something that has to have goals and metrics associated with it, its time to find a new hobby.  I can appreciate the apprehension of associating the level of enjoyment out of a pastime against some arbitrary metrics.  But I also believe that even the goal setting aspect is an escape from the everyday rituals and that any BBQ related escape helps me enjoy this hobby that much more.