Set goals, plan targets, achieve your dream!
This the first article in our 'Black Belt Skills' series. Aiming to break down some of the qualities, tools, methods and understanding needed to achieve mastery in any physical, skill based discipline.
Goal setting is a gigantic 'duh' for a lot of people. The idea that you need to set yourself a destination before you get in your car isn't particularly revolutionary.
But it's not quite as simple as just goal setting, it's the type of goals you set, the specificity to which you set them and the ability to analyse, assess and break down your goal(s) into a practical plan of action that counts.
Types of goals:
Firstly we have to think about the types of goals you are able to set and here we're thinking in terms of duration.
Generally, the more you're able to break down a goal, the easier it will be to accomplish.
If your overarching, ultimate goal is to become a black belt in karate, this would be considered a long term goal.
From this long term goal we can clearly deduce many smaller goals that we will have to achieve on the way:
- Getting a white belt.
- Going to karate every week for a year.
- Getting an orange belt.
You can begin to see how you can keep going pretty much infinitely if you wanted to, which is why it begins to be important to be mindful of your goal setting process.
It's important not to confuse goals with tasks. It is not a goal to clean my teeth each morning. Goals should be something that takes a certain amount of time to accomplish, the point of setting a goal is to make the journey to achieving it more apparent. If you're setting goals for no point other than to set goals then you may be hindering your own progress.
A good goal comes with a good timeline. Typically I find it best to divide your goals into short term, medium term and long term and to structure them like a pyramid with fewer long term goals at the top and the most short term goals at the bottom.
Specificity of goals.
How specific you are to what your goals consist of is incredibly important to accomplish them. If you are unable to translate your goal into a tangible physical result or into a practical action plan then it's worth re-thinking your goal.
To say "I want to be good at Swimming" on it's own is an example of a non-specific goal.
On it's own this goal does not really give you an idea of what to do unless you clarify what "good" means.
To say "I want to be a good swimmer & place in a national competition" immidiately puts you in a better place to begin to work out a strategy to achieve this.
Good is no longer an abstract word but has been defined with a tangible target. If you place (1st, 2nd, 3rd) in a national swimming competition, you would certainly be considered a "good swimmer". In order to compete at a national competition you will need to compete at more local competitions first and to do so would be a reasonable medium term goal.
To get to the point of competing at any competition you may need to first improve and refine your technique, so to join a swimming team, complete an 8 week intensive training program, swimming a distance under XYZ minutes would all be good examples of further reduced steps that you could consider as short term goals.
Analysing & re-assessing goals.
There are several reasons why it's important to be specific about your goals and breaking them down into medium and short term.
1) The more steps you have on your path the easier it will be to see which one is holding you up.
If you are making zero progress on a short term goal it's probably either unrealistic or unattainable in it's current form for your current timeline.
You need to be the one to know that your short term goal that you plan to accomplish in a month isn't something that's going to take years to complete. If so you will need to re-assess - the analysis of your own progress should be consistent and will only serve to help you.
2) You might be wrong, change your mind or otherwise.
Goals can change, life can change and push you in different directions. There's no harm in changing your goals if they no longer align with what you actually want to do or achieve. Don't take this decision lightly though; there's a difference between re-assessing and giving up.
Start goal setting today.
Thanks for reading this far! The hardest part of goal setting for most people is being able to look deep enough inside themselves to understand what they really want.
The practical step that you can take next is to spend some time reflecting on your practice, whatever it may be. Ask yourself where you would like to get to within this practice if you could just click your fingers and become that.
From this point you need to decide whether that place really reflects what your long term goal is in it's entirety and if so - there you have it. Your long term goal.
From here the work begins, you need to break down this long term goals into medium and shorter term goals which each serve as practical steps that will dictate your actions. This can take a while and it's recommended to write or draw this visually. Get yourself a blank notebook or ideally a Goal Planning Journal and get started today.
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