Most people training in the martial arts have goals. Goals like getting a black belt, winning a competition, or even becoming competent at a certain area of jiu-jitsu.
The problem is that what most people consider goals are really just just vague dreams; their goals are too theoretical to ever have a serious chance of ever becoming true.
It’s kind of like a kid saying he wants to become an astronaut someday – it’s a nice idea but unlikely to ever become a reality
In general you’re much more likely to achieve your goals if they’re specific, granular and actionable. So although I’m a big fan of setting goals, I’m an even bigger fan of so-called ’SMART’ goals.
These goals are called that because each letter in the word SMART stands for something…
- S for Specific
- M for Measurable
- A for Achievable
- R for Relevant
- T for Time constrained
By making your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time constrained it stops you from creating airy-fairy castles in the sky.
In this sense “I want to get really good at jiu-jitsu” or “I’d like to compete in kickboxing someday” aren’t really useful goals.
Vague goals are like wishes because they’re not specific nor do they contain the steps to actually get you to that goal.
Let’s contrast these vague goals with SMART goals….
In the context of martial arts training a properly worded goal might be “I’m going to compete in the blue belt masters division at the Central City Championships in 2 months time.”
This is a very specific goal; it’s not just any tournament it’s a specific division at a particular tournament.
It’s measurable; either you end up competing or you don’t. There’s no question as to whether you achieved it.
It’s achievable; the only requirement for competing in the blue belt division is to be a blue belt.
It’s relevant; a competition in the martial art you’re training is about as relevant as it gets, and your daily training should prepare you for it.
And it’s time constrained; picking a specific date or deadline really helps focus your mind around that goal. It’s like Samuel Johnson once said, “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”
So far we’ve mostly been discussing outcome goals. These are targets you’re aiming at in the future (like competing in a tournament, getting your black belt, etc.).
Being clear about your outcome goals provides a ton of motivation.
But in addition to outcome goals there’s also something called process goals, which are goals about HOW you’re actually going to achieve your desired outcome.
Process goals actually determine HOW you’re going to to get to the outcome.
In the context of martial arts process goals mostly revolve around how you’re going to train.
“For the next 30 days I’m going to spend 15 minutes before class drilling a certain technique I want to get good at.”
“Tomorrow I’m going to hire a personal trainer to work on my strength and conditioning one-on-one for the next 12 weeks.”
“In order to better understand this technique I’m going to spend 6 hours this weekend watching every video I can find of it being used in competition.”
You can see from these examples how super-specific, granular, and directly actionable this wording is.
By framing your goals in the SMART format it’s MUCH more likely that you’ll actually take action on them.
Thinking about goals in these terms has been very useful for my own training, and I hope that this approach will be useful for you too!
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P.P.S. The single biggest insight I got from sports psychology is that small successes lead to large successes…
Read more at How to Build Self Confidence in BJJ.
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