We all set goals.

Sometimes we set S.M.A.R.T. goals (more on that acronym later). Sometimes we set STUPID goals (that one isn’t an acronym, just emphasised). Some goals we achieve, and some we don’t. The problem is, between the goals that we never achieve and the ones we achieve at first but lose afterwards, we often end up with a net growth of close to zero! Let’s take a look at how to set the right goals, know when to use them, and know when to lose them.

SMART Goals

Learning how to set SMART goals was really helpful for me. For those that haven’t heard of this before, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. This is a method of setting goals that is taught in many different branches of study because goal setting is useful in almost any activity, career, or lifestyle.

A specific goal means taking the time to think about the details, rather than setting a general goal. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to get back in shape,” you could say, “I’m going to join The Black Belt Academy and train twice per week.” :-) We want to lay out a plan for our goals to help achieve them.

A measurable goal is just what it sounds like. Make your goals things you can measure. This enables you to actually track your progress, which will keep you motivated. For example, numbers on a scale, waist size, money in savings, and time spent with loved ones can all be measured to give yourself some numbers to check.

Setting an attainable goal means setting goals that are possible to achieve. For me, it means setting smaller goals along the way that help me see that I am growing closer to my ultimate goal. This will increase your confidence and determination to reach that final goal. The obvious martial arts connection here is the coloured belts we use to measure progress. Imagine how much more difficult it would be to get from white belt to black belt if there weren’t any belts in between (it used to be that way)! The other colours are a useful way to track our progress, and feel like we’ve made progress at each level. All of these smaller progress indicators will help you reach your bigger goals.

Realistic goals come back to being attainable. This doesn’t mean you should only set small goals. In fact, the big goals are sometimes the easier goals to achieve because you want them so badly! Have you ever completed a big task and felt so good afterwards that you said, “That was a lot easier than I thought!” Chances are the task wasn’t easy, you were just highly motivated to do it.

Timely means to put some timeframes on your goals. Sooner than someday, though! Don’t use the “someday” word, although this one has to tie into the rest of the points. For example, saying you want to achieve your Black Belt in 2 years could be very unrealistic. This is both something that is ultimately not your decision, and highly unlikely depending on the martial art that you are training in. On that note, I don’t recommend using belts as your goals to try to achieve a belt by a certain time. For weight loss, timely also means in a “reasonable” time. It’s best to shoot for between 1 – 1.5lb per week. Any more than this is not encouraged.

When to Use Them and When to Lose Them

Goals are great to use in the beginning of a journey. The first few weeks of working towards a goal are usually the most difficult to get through. During this period you are breaking bad habits or building new ones (usually both) and this can be both very challenging and very frustrating. This time is where many people lose motivation. During this period, if you have set some SMART goals, they might just be the motivation you need to keep going.

Have you ever reached a goal only to lose the progress you made shortly afterwards? Of the thousands of people that have tried the famous BeachBody workouts (such as P90X or Insanity), most people don’t make it through (because they are challenging!). But of the few people that do, all of them that I have met have fallen back to where they were before the program within a year of completing it! The problem is that most short term programs usually aren’t maintainable. If you can’t maintain what you did to reach your goal after the program finishes, you will likely fall back to where you started.

Try this for analysing a program before you start:

What if we lay out not only intermediate goals and plans for the timeframe we think it will take to reach our ultimate goal, but also a maintenance plan for after we do? With fitness I think this is a lot easier than we make it. Find some exercise that you enjoy doing, and then follow a healthy but maintainable and enjoyable diet and you are all set (just kidding, I know it’s not always that easy). If we have to do a workout plan to achieve our goal that we won’t be able to maintain afterwards, let’s NOT do it! Wouldn’t it be better to lose that 20 pounds over the course of a year if it meant it stayed off for the rest of our lives?

The same applies to martial arts. If you set your sights on Black Belt as your goal, and follow a training plan to get there that you aren’t going to maintain once you achieve it, will it really be worth it? If your goal was just to scratch it off a bucket list, then that answer may be yes. But if your reasons for achieving your Black Belt include growing as a person, learning to defend yourself, being more confident, and getting in the best shape of your life, then you won’t be happy to learn that those benefits will all disappear within the first year of quitting your training.

The Answer

What if we learn to set SMART goals for the items I just listed (growing, defending yourself, confidence, fitness, etc.) at the beginning of our journey? Then, as we grow closer to reaching the goal that we originally set out to achieve, we wean ourselves off of using goals and learn to just enjoy what we’ve achieved. We become motivated to maintain what we have because of the value it adds to our lives. If you learn to set smart goals, enjoy the journey, enjoy the training, and then enjoy the benefits of reaching your goal, you will continue to reap the rewards for the rest of your life.

In a sense we could call these lifestyle goals. We set small goals towards making something part of our lifestyle – healthy eating, fun exercise, spending time with loved ones, relieving stress, getting (and staying) out of debt, and the list goes on! Then once we have made them a part of our lifestyle, the goals disappear. You are now motivated by the joy that you get from living a positive, healthy life with the people you love. This phenomenon is what occurs as a lifelong martial artist. It may take you many years to make it to Black Belt, but once you get there you realise that it was only the beginning of the journey, because now the rest of your life is in front of you. You used the goals in the beginning (white to red) but then ditched them and just enjoyed the lifestyle once you got there (black).

On a final note, we should never stop growing. So once you have achieved a goal and integrated it into your life, remember to move on to another area that needs growth (or reduction!).

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.” – Robert A Heinlein

Master Olpin on the front page of the Gloucestershire Gazette after saving two women from a ferocious dog attack

Our chief instructor Master Olpin was branded a local hero this week after he stepped in to save two women and their dog from a ‘frenzied’ attack by a ferocious bull terrier.

Both the ladies were badly hurt needing hospital treatment, and their dog sustained serious injuries but thankfully Master Olpin was able to subdue the attacking dog and restrain it until Police arrived

Master Olpin on the front page of the Gloucestershire Gazette after saving two women from a ferocious dog attack

 

Our Master Instructor Richard Olpin and assistant Instructor Robbie Hirst were both honoured to be among just a handful of recipients who were awarded special awards for ‘Continued Excellence in the Martial Arts‘.

The awards dinner was the biggest yet, with hundreds of the UK’s top martial artists in attendance, so it was an especially proud moment for the Academy to receive not one, but two awards.

 

The Academy has a summer break for two weeks from 14th – 28th August and no classes will run during these two weeks.

We’re still able to check phone messages and respond to emails during this time but please allow a little extra time for a response as we won’t be in the office every day.

Another successful graduation event last night!

With the exception of a couple of students who were ill we had an excellent attendance which all helps to make these events all the more special.

Graduation

 

Little Ninjas at Graduation - September 2016

Excited Ninjas looking forward to receiving their new belts!

So back to it next week with some new syllabus to take us up to christmas.

A few of the newly promoted green belts will be moving on up to the experienced class and one of the ninjas on up to the junior beginners class too so lots of exciting things ahead for everyone.

Don’t forget the members section password will be changing for next quarter (details in your newsletter)Do please check in on there as that’s always the first place you’ll find notices about future events. Also of course if you’re not on our Facebook Group or members forum, do please join those too!

As always if you have any questions or I can help with anything, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or drop me an email, any time.

On Tuesday night I had a chance to catch up with a few of the parents after their holidays etc. and as is quite typical this time of year I heard a few tales of the dreaded ‘back to school blues’

Parents often dread those first few days back to school, and teachers are faced by a sea of grumpy faces in class wondering what on earth happened to those smiley energetic kids from a few weeks ago.  I’m sure when it came to monday morning, or resuming their regular activities after a holiday break many of you heard those words:  “I don’t wanna go”.

There’s almost certainly no rational reason for that other than a knee-jerk reaction to the challenge of getting back into a routine. The back-to-school season is a difficult time for kids. Giving up the relative freedom of summer to go back into a regulated environment is a tough transition for them.

Think about it – At the school we’ve only had a couple of weeks off, but when we also factor in your family holidays etc. too, many of the students have actually not been in class for three or four weeks, perhaps even longer.  That’s quite a long time for a youngster.

During their holidays they’ve had less boundaries, probably lots of late nights, lie-ins, and more opportunity to indulge themselves.  Now they’re back to school, all of a sudden they feel like ‘we’ have taken all their freedom away.  Suddenly the grown-ups are making them do stuff. Shock horror! They aren’t allowed to play all day, they have to go to bed early, get up early, go to boring school all day, do their homework etc.

They don’t see the bigger picture, to them, they feel they’ve lost all their freedom, and somehow it’s our fault.  Adults always make us do boring stuff eh!  As they have limited ways to feel in control, so they tend to resort to the only tactic they know to exert their will – those dreaded words “I don’t want to” – which roughly translates as I’m not going to do anything you want me to.

Kids live in the moment. They don’t think about next week, next month or next year. All they see is that “I am having fun here and now on my xbox, or hanging out with my friends doing nothing.  Why should I get up and do something else?”

As adults, while we can understand this feeling, we also know it is not what is best for them. Especially, if they are facing a new challenge. It is our job to think for the long term and see past the next 5 minutes, hours, days or years. I know it is hard at times, but it’s important to remember the benefits they are gaining which we can understand as adults, even if they don’t see them (yet) as children.

Why did you sign your child up for martial arts training in the first place?   Was it just because their best friend was training, or because he saw the Power Rangers on TV?   Maybe that’s why they started, but I’d bet there were other more substantial reasons too. You probably thought that the type of discipline provided by the training, the respect for self and others, along with the physical activity, not to mention the very useful skill of self defence would enhance your child as she encountered a world which is not as kind, not as safe, and not as well-mannered as it once was, right?

This cannot be overstated – you made a decision to provide your son or daughter with an set of life skills that cannot be easily attained elsewhere.

Let’s consider another perspective:

What if your child said, “I don’t want to go to school anymore!”  You wouldn’t dismiss that easily or bow down to their request. You might investigate if there was a reason or a problem to address, but most likely, you’d explain that school is an essential part of life, and they’ll really appreciate it later, so yes, tomorrow morning they do have to go and take that maths test!

Have you ever tried to learn a musical instrument?  It takes a long time to develop the skills necessary to understand, appreciate, and play an instrument, but we persevere.  Martial arts are no different in this regard. If we left the decision up to our children, we would never have another musician. Ever. No child would ever voluntarily practice the piano with the necessary dedication it takes to build proficiency. No child would ever attend a music lesson if she thought for one moment missing practice was an option!

You are the parent, and you have to be the stable force in your child’s life.

The whims of your children will come and go as easily as daydreams. If you are likely to allow their flighty thoughts of fancy to sway your decisions relative to their safety, self-esteem, and discipline, then what next? “Mum, I don’t like wearing a bike helmet.” “Dad, why do I need to learn geography, I’ll never use this stuff.”  The list of “I don’t see the point” topics is never ending and you’re going to have to draw the line somewhere. Safety, self-esteem, and self-discipline seem to be a pretty good place to start.

Thanks for sticking with the long post, but it’s a topic that we all come up against this time of year, and often in the new year/post-christmas blues too so I thought it was worth getting something down to think about.

In the long run we all know that the kids love it once they get to class. Much like when we as adults get ourselves off the sofa and go to the gym, or tackle that bit of DIY that needed doing in the garden.  It doesn’t matter what their mood is when they come through the door to start the class. What matters is how they feel when they’ve just finished!

As always, if we can help, don’t hesitate to ask. That’s what we’re here for!