Martial Arts & Goal Setting

(This is off the Crestview Bulletin column that ran January 23, 2013)

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Considering the time of year and New Year’s Resolutions, I’ll go a little off the normal “Safety Tips” column. Gordon Martial Arts did a free seminar entitled, “Goals4Life” this past Saturday. So many of us set goals with our New Year’s Resolutions and I’ve seen studies showing 50-90% have given up on the goal by middle of the year. Martial Arts are unique from most other activities in that we have the ability to demonstrate and teach short term and long term goals. Similarly, ROTC, Boy Scouts, & Girl Scouts offer similar methods in teaching our children how to set goals and more importantly, HOW to reach them. With that, let’s look at the 10 steps we covered at Gordon Martial Arts for the Goals4Life seminar:

1. Write Goals Down – it’s important not to write down 500 goals. Set a few solid goals that are reasonably obtainable. Losing weight is entirely too vague. How much weight? You’re 220lbs and should be 180lbs? Don’t set the goal to lose 50lbs when 40lbs is enough.

2. Completion Date – writing down the goal isn’t enough. You must have a date in which you’re going to achieve the goal. Using the weight example above, don’t say you’re going to lose 50lbs by Spring Break. Now the weight is too much and it’s coming off too quickly. This would apply to money as well. Say you want to have $1000 emergency stash within 10 months. That’s obtainable for most everyone so the goal is reachable. But then you say you want that in the next four weeks. If it was THAT easy, you would already have it. And if it’s really that easy, raise the goal amount.

3. Reward for reaching goal – people move toward pleasure and away from pain. It’s really that simple. So what do you reward yourself with? Regardless of losing weight or saving money, you may want to go out and buy a new outfit. It’s not unrealistic and it relates to the goal.

4. Picture of goal – this is critical and an often overlooked step. Most of us are visually motivated. If you have more than one goal or multiple sets in getting to the goal, make a collage. Tying back to martial arts, let’s say the goal is obtaining black belt ranking. Get a picture of a black belt.

5. Set short term goals – for goals that require a lot of dedication, you’ll need short term goals. Want to lose 40lbs? Start with 10lb increments. Want to save $1000? Start with $100 increments. Want to earn a black belt, there are several colored belts in between. Remember, “getting in shape” or “saving money” isn’t specific enough.

6. Measure goal – so you’ve got your long term goal broken down into bite sized short term goals. Now we need to set a timeline to measure the goal based on the completion date set in the second step. Lose 5lbs every month. Save $25 a week. Earn next belt in 3 months and so on. Actually put a date on it. I weigh myself every Friday. I monitor my financial goals based on 1st of the month. At this level in martial arts, I have a year date for next black belt. For example, I want to earn 4th degree in Hapkido in 2013. You may see that you need to adjust the completion date and that’s okay if you do. Just keep it realistic.

7. Create Action Steps – we’ve got our goal set, completion date set, a reward, picture of the reward, bite sized steps, and dates to measure our progress. Now we need to define HOW we’re going to reach the goal. Examples would be: I’m going to lose 5lbs a week by walking 2 miles every morning before starting my day. I’m going to save $25 a week by skipping a dinner out. I’m going to earn my next belt in martial arts by going to class twice a week.

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8. Punishment/adjustment for failure – above I wrote that we move toward pleasure and away from pain. We’re all quick to set the reward for success but what about the penalty/adjustment for shortcoming? Nothing crazy but something to help get us where we need to be. If you want to lose 5lbs a month and you only lost 4lbs, it’s NOT the end of the world. Just add 5-10 more minutes to your morning walk. You only have $20 saved this week? Take an extra lunch next week instead of eating out. Didn’t pass your belt test? Come to class 3 times a week instead of 2 times a week.

9. Accountability – this can make the difference when we have a buddy working with us. Especially if the buddy is trying to get the same goal. Sure is easier walking on that dreaded treadmill if your buddy is walking with you. Make it a healthy competition. In martial arts, come to class together. Call your buddy if they miss class and help them reach their goal as they help you reach yours.

10. Look at goal daily – for me, I need that visual stimulation. Some people may want their goal on the mirror in the bathroom so they see it when they brush their teeth in the morning and it’s the last thing they see when they brush their teeth before bed. For those that drive a lot, they may want to put a picture of their goal on the visor. For kids in school, put a picture of the goal on your folder or book cover.

Goal setting is an important method of separating trivial, unimportant things from things that are important in your life. Proper goal setting will help you decide what you want to achieve in your life. The short term goals will help keep you motivated building your self-confidence as you successfully achieve your goals. For those of us with children, that last sentence should be a huge motivator to teach our children how to properly set goals. The instructors and staff and Gordon Martial Arts would be glad to help you or your child learn to set goals and help you reach them!  Give us a call at 850-682-0720 or contact us off the contact bar on this site.

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else. ~Yogi Berra

To reach a port, we must sail—Sail, not tie at anchor—Sail, not drift. ~Franklin Roosevelt

There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something. ~Henry Ford