"To be a master, do what masters do."
Martial artists are special types of people. We try to cultivate our self-discipline. We have daily habits or routines that help us to achieve our short, medium, and long term goals. We're focused on constantly becoming better version of ourselves. Every day presents a unique challenge to us. Our mission is to be better than we were yesterday. By learning how to properly set goals, create habits, and stay committed, you can embrace the ways of the martial artist as well. As a member of Shugyō Karate Dōjō, you're encouraged to embrace a 'never give up' warrior spirit to achieve your goals.
True self-mastery is not an end goal, but a constant path to walk. If you wish to be a master, do what masters do. Remember to have a final goal in mind which serves as your vision, but focus on your daily habits and routines.
Step 1 - Writing a Goal
You should start by writing your goal down on paper. You're more likely to achieve your goal if you've taken the time to put ink on paper. Your goal should be S.M.A.R.T. This means that your written goal will be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Click on the button below to download the file to guide you on your smart goal formation. For more detail on each section, see the descriptions and examples below.
Goals that are specific are more likely to be achieved because when you create specific goals you're being clear on what it is you want to achieve. Make sure to include your personal reason for achieving this goal. This is you 'why?'. Always remember why you want to achieve your goal. Write your 'why?' on somewhere visible to you. It will help keep you aware of your ultimate desire to achieve your goal.
Specific (What do you want to accomplish? Who needs to be included? When do you want to do this? Why is this a goal?):
During my last karate grading I felt like I didn’t perform at my best. I was
exhausted and wasn’t confident with my bunkai. I want to be more confident in
my abilities. I will need to include myself, Sensei, and my parents in my goal to
help me achieve it. I want to achieve this by December 2023, when the next
grading will be held. By doing this, I will feel that I’m progressing on my journey
of self-improvement and my ultimate vision; becoming a black belt.
Goals that are measurable are achievable. How will you know when you have achieved your goal? For example, by telling yourself, 'I want to lose weight', you're not being specific enough to set yourself up for success. Start small. Write it down. An example of a good measurable goal is, "I will lose ten pounds of fat by December 1st, 2023". Measurable goals are ones you can prove you achieved it.
Measurable (How can you measure progress and know if you’ve successfully met your goal?):
When I achieve my goal, I should be able to perform Seiyunchin kata sequence
without any thought. I should also be able to perform my bunkai for my katas
on my left and right side without assistance from Sensei. I want to attend
classes three times per week and do extra practice for two hours per week at
home. Ultimately, I should have earned my next belt as well. I want to grade for
this next belt by December 2023.
Goals that are achievable are ones that are realistically attainable by you. By setting your goal within your means, you set yourself up for success. If you set a goal that's too lofty you will be easily frustrated when you don't see it through to its completion.
Remember that building self-discipline is akin to building a structure like a pyramid; First, you need to build the bottom section of the pyramids' base to build the next section up. Each section of the pyramid gets easier to build as it requires fewer and fewer stones. The final highest section, the capstone, is the easiest to place, but it is supported by hundreds of blocks below that took a strong determination to place. When you have developed your self-discipline and determination for meeting your first goal, you can then set your expectations for yourself higher the second time. By setting goals that become more challenging incrementally, you'll me more likely to have a solid base of self-discipline required to achieve the bigger goals later on.
Achievable (Do you have the skills required to achieve the goal? If not, can you obtain them? What is the motivation for this goal?)
In order to achieve this goal, I will need to be self-motivated and show self-
discipline. I sometimes struggle with these skills. I believe I can obtain these
skills by making my goals known to others so they can help provide positive
reinforcement. I believe I can also obtain these skills by following my daily habit
tracker. I want to achieve this goal to I can pass my next belt test and feel proud
Goals that are relevant help you get closer to your ultimate vision of who you envision yourself as. Relevant goals are stepping stones to becoming the best version of yourself. When you create your goals ensure they are relevant to developing your personal character leading to the most successful, authentic version of you.
Relevant (Why am I setting this goal now? Is it aligned with overall objectives?):
Achieving this goal will help me become a better version of myself in many areas of my life. If I can improve my performance in karate, I will feel empowered to improve other aspects of my life as well.
Goals that are time-bound have clear ideas of when they will be achievable by. Ensure that your goal has a realistic timeline. Give yourself time to develop your habits, and don't beat yourself up if you notice set-backs along that journey. Real progress rarely follows a straight path. There will be some dramatic improvements, and some setbacks on your journey to achieving your goal. Keep yourself committed to your realistic timeline for achieving your goal, and evaluate how close you are to meeting your goal when you approach the time frame you set for yourself.
Time-bound (What’s the deadline and is it realistic?):
This goal will be realized by December 2023. I believe this is realistic because
this timeline provides me a whole year to prepare. I realise that I will have
successes, and some set-backs, so setting my goal for grading 12 months from
today will provide me the time to develop my skills in a realistic amount of time.
When you've completed all of these SMART sections on the provided goal sheet, create one final goal statement that encapsulates everything. This final goal statement should be placed somewhere visible throughout your day.
Another unique idea is to make a password that you use to access something such as an email account related to your personal goal. Every time you log into your account, you will be reminded of your goal. It'll also be a secure password because your personal goal is unique to you. For example, if I was training to earn a sixth degree black belt I might consider using a password such as, 'EarnSixth6!', or 'GetToMy6th!". By having your goal visible to you, and by building in daily reminders of your goal you'll be more likely to stay focused on achieving it.
Step 2 - Creating habits
Creating habits that support your goals and tracking those habits will ultimately lead to your success. The most successful people in the world have strict daily routines where they act out habits that directly and indirectly support their goals. As a result of this, their ultimate vision of themselves become actualized. They are motivated by their personal 'why?'. Rather than sit by and hope their dreams come true, they act out what makes them true every day. Remember to become a master, you must do what masters do. The secret is in the daily grind. Dedication to you daily habits, and ultimately what becomes your routine, will set you on the path to achieving your personal goals in life.
Click on the button above to download your first habit tracker for January. List habits that will directly support your goal, and habits that will indirectly support your goal. Post your habit tracker somewhere visible and accessible to you daily. Each day focus on completing your habits, and checking them off as you complete them.
There are also habit tracker apps that can be downloaded that work very well. These habit tracker apps even give you notification about your upcoming habits, and can generate detailed reports about your ability to adhere to your habits. If you are an Android device user, consider using Loop Habit Tracker (https://loophabits.org/). There are also similar apps for Apple device users.
After tracking your habits for a certain period of time they will likely start to feel like automatic behaviours to you. Don't get discouraged if you miss one or two habits. Soon you'll start to notice a sense of enjoyment from following each of your habits, and you'll seek that good feeling outcome that they provide. For example, somone who recently started working out at the gym may initially feel like this habit is tough. It may be challenging to fit this behaviour in your busy schedule, hard to get the mental motivation to engage in strenuous physical activity, or difficult to combat the insecurities you may have about going on your own; however, exercise is proven to release endorphins that cause feelings of joy. After a good workout you may feel mentally more alert, physically more limber, and good about your choice to check off another habit from your daily list. All of these outcomes become something you'll eventually crave and the blockages that once prevented you from going to the gym in the first place will start to fade.
Self-talk is powerful; remind yourself that you're on the path to mastery, and that you've been doing very well. Everytime you have a succesful day, or even a single successful habit completion reaffirm to yourself, "I'm doing great", "I'm a dedicated martial artist", or "I'm on the right path". By talking to yourself positively you're creating a mindset that is strong, positive, and unstoppable. A great sensei would not put a student down for their failed attempts at growth, so why would you put yourself down? Think to yourself, 'What would Sensei say?'. Surely the answer is that he or she would remind you of how far you've come, suggest what needs to be corrected, and encourage you to never give up. Let your self talk reflect the advice of a sensei and you'll find that you will find yourself progressing further than you imagined.
Step 3 - Create a Daruma
In Japan, people purchase a daruma doll and colour in one of his eyes when they form a goal. Daruma dolls are symbols of a never give up spirit. They are based on a monk named Bodhidarma, who was laser-focused on attaining enlightenment. Daruma dolls have no legs, so if they fall, they roll back up again. This is symbolic of you martial arts mentality. "Fall down seven times, stand up eight", is an old Japan saying that is similar to these ideas. It means that if you experience a setback in your goals, do not keep putting yourself down, but instead, get back up and try again. When you've completed your goal you will colour in the daruma's second eye. Keep the daruma somewhere visible to you on a daily basis. His stare will be a constant reminder of the goal you've promised to keep. Below is a link to download your Daruma colouring sheet. This is the final step for creating your goals.
Remember to stay consistent with your habit tracker. If you focus on nothing but your daily habits you will develop a consistent routine that will support your goals. When you've accomplished your goals, start the process again. Start small. Every time you achieve a goal, reach for new heights that are within your capability to achieve.
To become a master, do what masters do.