Like a lot of us towards the end of each year I start focusing on setting goals for the new year. These are definitely not resolutions! Not only from research, but for personal experience these never work. So if the resolution thing does not work, what’s the difference in goal setting?
Goals or Systems?
For me the main difference from resolutions is I actual plan out my goals. I actually invest time in working out how to achieve them. However I read an article recently that you can find here This suggested that you should not focus on the goal but the system. These are the things that you would do everyday, regardless of having a goal. It also suggests that goal setting could also be a negative. I am not sure about this, but one thing I know is that one size rarely fits all. So this “systems” approach might work with some people.
The traditional approach
For me the more traditional approach to goal setting works. So I tend to stick to the SMART approach. There are variations in what SMART stands but I usually work with:
S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).
It does take a bit of work to define and set your goals. But as with most things preparation is what makes it successful.
Well to begin with lets keep it positive. State each of your goals in a positive statement way. “Execute this technique well” is a much better goal than “Don’t make this stupid mistake.” Setting goals in this way is way more helpful. Your goals aren’t there to beat yourself up with. You are meant to be using them as a tool to improve.
Keep it precise
Look at setting goals precisely, putting in dates and amounts so that you can measure achievement. By taking the time to do this If you’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal. That means you’ll know when you have hit your goal you’ll know it. I have a current goal to be able to deadlift my bodyweight plus 50% as an amount. I’ve given myself 3 months to achieve this as a timescale.
Prioritise to stay sane
You are going to have to give each goal a priority (if you have more than one). This helps focus your attention to the most important or immediate ones. Sometime setting the priority is easy as it can be one goal supports another. For me I have a current goal to make my De La Riva guard hard to deal with. But I also have another goal to medal at the IBJJF World Masters in 2017. The priority here is working on my De La Riva guard. As improving that will help with getting a medal. Plus the World Masters is not until August.
Write it down
After you have gone to all this effort, keep a note of all your hard work. Whether this is on paper stuck to your refrigerator. Or kept in your phone for only you to see. You will need something to show yourself you have achieved your goal and it is time to feel satisfied.
Don’t supersize your goals
Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you’re working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
Set performance goals, not outcome goals – You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control!
IIn sport, they could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck.
If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.
Keep it real
I’m all for shooting for the stars. But when it comes down to it I will never be able to roll like Rafa Mendes. I can reduce my body fat, but I ain’t ever gonna have a chiseled six pack. (No matter how Mrs Munki would like it.) So when you plan goals make them achievable. Give yourself a fighting chance, especially if it is something big in your life. It is possible to set goals that are too difficult. Simply because you don’t appreciate the obstacles involved. Be prepared to review your goals if this happens. Goals do not have to be set in stone, in these circumstances.
Know the rules to break the rules
Don’t be afraid to carry over goals. As I mentioned above the problem with setting goals outside your control, is they can be missed. A couple of years ago I set myself goals to win a match in an IBJJF competition and also to win an IBJJF medal. Yeah both outside my direct control. In the first year I set them I didn’t achieve them. But I kept them as my high level goals for the following year. In that second year I did achieve both. Technically this doesn’t stick to the SMART principles, but it gave me motivation each time I competed. Plus I didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t hit them. I just kept them in focus and appreciated there was nothing I could do about it.
Goals are building blocks
As I mentioned before goals are meant to help build you up. Giving you a positive challenge to motivate you to move forward. They are not big sticks to beat yourself with if you do not achieve them. If you don’t hit a goal in the timescale you set. Sit down and review it. How close were you? Where there things outside your control that got in the way? Was it actually realistic or achievable? Take the positive from what you have achieved working towards it. After you have reviewed it, if it is still something to go for then do just that. Go through the same SMART process from your current start point and start the challenge again. It’s important to remember that failing to meet goals does not matter much, just as long as you learn from the experience.
I have also previously written an article on success strategies for achieving goals here. This might also be helpful.
Stay positive and stay motivated.