The Importance of Setting Goals

In my last blog entry, I wrote about staying focused on the big picture while training in the Martial Arts. It’s important to remember why you joined in the first place, and even though we don’t want you to train exclusively for the rewards, you will be rewarded for your efforts. In Karate, your reward is promotion to a new belt rank, but I like to think of the belt ranks more like checkpoints along Your Journey to Black Belt. For many, earning their Black Belt is the big picture, or their ultimate goal. Nobody joins Karate because they want to be a Blue Belt. I’ve seen students stop training at every single belt rank below Black Belt, but nobody starts with the intent of quitting before Black.

So, how can you achieve your long term goal of becoming a Black Belt? Start with a time frame. You can’t be vague and simply say, “As soon as possible,” or “Eventually.” Give yourself an exact deadline that is within a realistic amount of time. Having a deadline puts a sense of urgency to your goals that will really keep you motivated to continue working toward it. For example, about three years ago, I started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Once I realized that I really enjoyed it, I set a long term goal for myself to become a Blue Belt in BJJ before being promoted to Fifth Degree Black Belt in Karate. I had three years left before I was eligible for my Karate promotion, and knowing about how long it takes, on average, to get to Blue Belt in BJJ, I knew it was possible. I did the math and figured out the last possible chance I would have to earn my Blue Belt in BJJ before my Karate promotion. I had the time frame figured out, so I set a deadline for my long term goal. I then I had to start setting my short term goals.

Long term goals in the Martial Arts often take years to accomplish, so the short term goals keep things interesting. At Ultimate Martial Arts, it takes on average four years to earn your Black Belt in Karate, so setting short term goals for each one of the twelve Under Belts (any belt below the rank of Black) makes that four year journey go by much quicker. In order to give yourself an exact deadline for those short term goals, you may need to talk to your instructor to get all the info on a realistic timeline between each belt level.

The last thing, and in my opinion the most important, thing to remember about any goal you set for yourself (Karate related or not) is that simply having an aspiration is not a guarantee for success. You are going to hit roadblocks along the way. If that happens, don’t beat yourself up or feel like you have failed. If you don’t achieve your goal by the date you set, that’s okay. Reassess where you’re at, and set a new goal date. I can almost guarantee you that something unexpected will happen. Don’t let it stop you. Work through the problem and you will be back on track to earning your Black Belt before you know it. Always remember,

Every Black Belt is just a White Belt that never gave up!

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