Set Your Goals

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Goal Setting

It’s time to recommit to your plan to dominate.  We all start out strong each year with motivation to do better than we had in the past year.  But how many of you are putting thought to what you want to accomplish, and exactly how you plan to accomplish your goals?  If you aren’t putting thought into it and coming up with a plan, you’re on the wrong end of the goal-setting wall. You’re either in front of it with tools to tackle it, or you’re stuck behind it with no plan to improve your spot.

I’m all for simplifying things, and this is really about as easy as it gets. I think the SMART goal system is pretty straightforward, and more than useful for this purpose. Just ‘google’ SMART goals and you’ll find out exactly what it is. To summarize, goals should be:


If you actually blow past some of your goals before the year is out, by all means set a new ceiling. The sky is the limit, but make sure it meets the SMART criteria above. Strong foundations are built brick-by-brick.


Five quick tips for you to remember as you start out the year trying to build a better you.

  1. Plan ahead: You must have the discipline to log your workouts, make your meals, review your journal, get adequate sleep, etc.  If you begin to drop the ball it’s human nature to continue the momentum you’ve gained and “start next week”, or do something drastic like change your whole plan to make it easier.  Do yourself a favor and make a journal (notebook, smartphone, iPad, apps, whatever. Get in the discipline of making your goals and sticking to them by documenting your daily activities and mental notes. It’s human nature to throw in the towel when you drop the ball, but don’t be weak. Plan ahead and avoid this issue.
  2. Think bite-sized chunks: You’ve probably heard “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, or “Don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one bite”.  In order to accomplish your goals you need to know three things: Your current baseline, your target goal, and a roadmap to get there. Making the roadmap can sometimes be where folks lose it and will rely on “willpower” to drive them.  As my good friend Philip Chubb says, “Human willpower and drive is a finite resource that has to recharge”.  As an example, let’s say you’ve never trained BJJ before, and your goal is to not only to start training, but to compete as well.  That’s great.  You should ask yourself, “What do I need to do before I should even consider doing this?”  Well, you’ll need a Gi, an Academy to train, an idea of your weight class (which can likely mean additional conditioning and dietary changes for weight making/maintenance), target tournaments, a target date for your first tournament, and honest feedback from your coaches and training team on your readiness.  Now, all of this doesn’t unfold on its own.  Finding a suitable Academy can take you weeks or even months until you find a match for you and is a sizable “chunk” towards achieving your goal.  This may seem like common sense to many of you, but don’t overlook the simplicity of this. Don’t let your eagerness turn into neglect for mapping out your path to success.
  3. Be honest: When you track your progress, be honest with your self-assessment. If you achieve something (sort of), and you are second guessing your accomplishment, re-evaluate the achievement or the goal itself. Maybe your progress indicators were flawed or your goal wasn’t specific enough. Don’t take shortcuts. Instead, claim small victories. They accumulate over time.
  4. You’re in Control: If you’re a white belt, of course it’s natural to set your sights on the Blue Belt.  However, making this a goal in weeks, or even a year may not meet the test of being Realistic, because it’s out of your hands when you get promoted. Instead, focus on certain elements of your BJJ game that will improve your standing as a White belt, such as working on survival tactics against higher belts. You can work on this every time you roll in class. The less times you get tapped, the more you are improving.  It meets the SMART criteria. You can also increase the likelihood of improving your skills with more mat time. So make sure you attempt to get to class a minimum of 1 time per week, then 2, then 3, etc. You’ll have to decide, but make the activities to achieve your goal something you can control and reasonably and consistently perform.
  5. Stay Positive: Your mindset needs to be glass-half full…always.  There is no room for negative thought when your goals are on the line.  Remove the negative thoughts like doubt and pity from your dictionary. Excuses are irrelevant. You’ll only be fooling yourself with excuses. No one cares why you’ve missed a workout, or why you can’t eat right, so don’t waste your breath telling everybody. Just evaluate your options to get back on course and keep positive momentum moving forward. You’re equipped with the most powerful analytical tool that we know of: your brain.  Use it to build a positive mindset and get to your goals.  Period.

My Goals


When sitting down to think through my physical development goals (the focus areas of HWBJJ) for 2016, I already know, based on my 2015 goals and progress, what I want my goals for 2016 to be.

It helps to know where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you want to go. If you’re starting off for the first time, you have nowhere to go but up.

Next, I spent time asking myself whether the goals were specific and realistic enough, how I would measure and track my progress, whether I could achieve these goals within my time-frame (i.e., the SMART criteria). I plan to follow my goals for the entire year, so my ability to track progress, make adjustments, or even add new goals, will be a critical step in this process. Personally, I track my goals in a journal (my laptop) and my smartphone so it is easy to refer back to and evaluate.

Learn how to establish your goals here.


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