Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jiu jitsu goal setting

One of my favorite things about the New Year is all the goal setting. Everyone is making resolutions of some sort, from the ubiquitous "lose 10 lbs" to "stop biting my nails" to "expand my banana label collection."

(Yes, it's an actual thing. Collectors even have their own convention!).    

I have always been an obsessive goal-setter and goal-chaser. So I embrace this time of year like goth kids do Halloween. I'm in my element.  And for about a month or so - until resolutions fade, gym memberships get cancelled, and folks go slack with their bananas - everyone else is in my element along with me.

That makes this a perfect time to set jiu jitsu goals, but whether or not you share these goals is up to you. Research has found that people are actually less likely to accomplish their goals when they share them with other people. This is surprising to me, because social support is important for just about everything. But it is theorized that when you share a goal with others, you experience a false sense of accomplishment. This temporary rise in self-esteem from talking about your goal makes you less likely to go out and do the work to make it happen. There is also the Debbie Downer factor. What is ambitious to you might sound crazy to others. Debbie Downers can talk you out of your goal, before you have begun to try.

That's one reason I'm not going to post my goals here, although if you know me well enough to ask me in person, I will probably tell you. The other reason is that my goals, from a scientific standpoint, are pretty lousy. See, as a speech pathologist, I'm a goal writing machine at work. I write IEP and Medicaid goals on an almost daily basis. I know that goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). Vague goals like "train more" or "get better at half guard" are not very useful because they are not measurable. It's better to pick something specific and to give yourself a deadline."Win X tournament" is also not a good goal because it relies on an outcome, not performance. Your level of competition (and thus your potential for winning) is just not something you can control.

I find jiu jitsu goals to be very difficult to set, because performance and progress are hard to objectively measure. If you are training consistently and mindfully - with good coaches and training partners - I guarantee you that you are getting better. But so is everyone else, so that progress is hard to gauge or sometimes even notice.

Have you given any thought to what you want to accomplish on the mats this year? What are your resolutions? Feel free to ignore research and share them here!

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