What Are Your Goals for 2013?

Photo Credit: Peter Kaminski

In case it wasn’t already obvious… this post is about a month late. Life got busy… Hopefully this is timeless content and you don’t mind the delay. Thank you for reading!

Well, it is here: 2013. A new year, and coming with it new challenges. Many people set out with New Year’s resolutions, goals and changes they intend to make to their lives. This is also a great time for reflection on the goals of the previous year.

Looking back at 2012

Looking back at 2012 I made a lot of training goals to go along with my ambitions to build this blog. Looking back now I’m actually happy that I didn’t publish a list of these goals, because honestly it is a little embarrassing how poorly I performed.

I only achieved a few goals, but worse than making progress and not meeting the mark is the large number of goals I set that I never even attempted to make progress on. I think this demonstrates a few things about setting goals.

  1. Too many goals can be a huge problem. In a previous post about setting goals, I pointed this out but failed to follow my own advice. 18 goals was way too many.

  2. I didn’t follow up or have intermediate goals. That means that it was easy to forget about the things not immediately on my radar. As a result I made no progress on them.

  3. For the goals I did make progress on, I fell short on almost all of them. I set goals that I thought were attainable, but honestly it seems like I set the bar too high.

New Philosophy for 2013

This brings me to the coming year. Obviously how I set my goals needs to change, both to make them more attainable and to make sure I have a proper plan in place to keep on top of these goals.

First, I’m going to limit the number of goals. I’ll follow my own advice and try for 7. That is much more reasonable than 18, and is basically the number of goals I actually worked on out of my 18 for 2012.

Second, I’m going to set intermediate milestones every 2 months, and set up reminders to check my progress against these milestones. If I fall behind in two months, I’ll have another kick in the ass to keep moving.

Third, I’m lowering the bar on my goals. Since most of these goals are almost exactly the same in nature to goals from 2012, I’ll use the amount of progress I made last year as a guide for setting my new goals.

Goals for 2013

To keep myself honest I’m even going to publish my goals as well as my intermediate milestones.

  1. Improve my 3 F.A.S.T. Avg (in a given range session) to be < 6 seconds

There isn’t much to say about this other than the fact that I’m scaling back from my goal of < 5 seconds for this year… and making the goal tracking more towards consistency. I want to be consistent as well as fast.

Milestones:

Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec
< 7.0s < 6.8s < 6.6s < 6.4s < 6.2s < 6.0s
  1. Achieve a 50/50 Dot Torture at 6 yards

In 2012 my goal was a 50/50 at 5 yards, and I almost made it. I’m raising the bar a little since I have a whole year to go, but I want to achieve my goal this time.

Milestones:

Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec
50/50 @ 5yds 46/50 @ 6yds 47/50 @ 6yds 48/50 @ 6yds 49/50 @ 6yds 50/50 @ 6yds
  1. Participate in 5 IDPA matches in 2013

Last year I made it to 2. I want to make sure I get to some more matches if for no other reason than to keep pressure testing my shooting skills.

Milestones:

Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec
0 0 1 3 5 5
  1. Get classified in IDPA

I wanted to make it to IDPA Expert in 2012, but didn’t even get a chance to get classified. Instead my goal is to get classified this year, because quite frankly I need a point to measure from.

Milestones: N/A

  1. Study all Kata up to Sandan

One of my life goals in 2013 is to get my new NH dojo off the ground. I’ll be launching I launched the dojo in January and will hopefully get enough students to keep the doors open. As part of this goal I want to dedicate more of my life to regular karate training. A major piece of this is not only studying the Kata I know already, but to learn the new Kata that I should for my next grade.

Milestones: Rather than list the entire litany of Kyokushin Kata here I’ll generalize: I have picked a few for each milestone to focus on for each 2 month period. At a minimum I should be able to check off that I have spent the time or I haven’t up until I get to the ones I am starting to learn.

  1. Increase my one set max for pullups to 15

Improving my pullups was a major goal last year. I increased my total by a few, but fell well short of my goal of 25. This year I’m decreasing my goal to be only 4 or 5 above my usual one set max.

Milestones:

Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec
10 11 12 13 14 15
  1. Increase my one set max for pushups to 40

I also spent a lot of time in 2012 working on improving my pushups. Now I do need to qualify that when I am talking about pushups, I am talking about knuckle pushups where my chest goes all the way to the floor. This full range of motion is much more difficult than the more common dinky pushups, and hence why the goal number is fairly low.

Milestones:

Feb Apr Jun Aug Oct Dec
20 24 28 32 36 40

What are your goals for 2013?

I’ve told you about my goals, but what are yours? Please post your goals in the comments below, or email me. If I get enough feedback I plan on putting together a post listing everyone’s goals for 2013 to hopefully help people in determining what kinds of goals they should make for 2013.

Driving Your Training With Skills Assessments

Photo Credit: DrJimiGlide

What is the biggest challenge in training? Some might argue that it is determining exactly what to spend your time on. It can be very easy to practice mindlessly, but to get the best results for your time you need to know exactly how to stage your training.

When you undertake your training you are trying to reach some sort of goal. Achieving a singular, simple goal can be easy, just practice until you succeed. Balancing your training to reach a complex set of goals on the other hand is where things get difficult. How do you manage these kinds of goals to achieve them all in a finite set of time?

Drive your training with assessments

One method for balancing your training and determining exactly what you will work on is a progress assessment. The concept is simple: measure your progress against your goals, and re-balance your training plan accordingly.

Sometimes dividing all of your time equally among many activities has the downside of diluting your efforts to the point of ineffectiveness. Redirecting your training based on a set of assessments has the benefit of allowing you to determine exactly what needs the most work so you can direct the most effort to that area.

How do you assess?

The biggest hurdle in driving your training with these assessments is determining exactly what and how to assess.

Some things are easily assessed. Weight lifting provides a simple example. You know exactly how many reps you did, and how much weight you are lifting.

Other areas are not quite so easy.

Shooting is a great example of this. Unlike weight lifting, every training session doesn’t measure progress in itself (unless you have a lot of money and a range in your backyard). Dry-fire is much harder to measure than live fire. You can improvise in dry-fire, but you need expensive equipment to avoid sacrificing the accuracy of your measurement.

Make the most out of each range session and devote at least some of it to measuring your progress by recording hits and times on a consistent course of fire. Personally I use the F.A.S.T. and Dot Torture to measure my own progress.

Some things can be even harder to measure than your ability to hit a target or the amount of weight you can lift. Take for example some fairly subjective things like your fighting techniques. What are you struggling with the most? Kicking, punching, or maybe footwork? There is no completely objective way to measure these skills. If you can’t be objective (or even if you can) you might want to ask a training partner or an instructor on a recurring basis to determine exactly what you need the most work on. If neither is available, consider video recording yourself, it might make self-assessment easier.

Taking your scores home

Once you have a good idea of exactly how you are performing, you need to take those numbers and turn them into an adjustment to your training plan.

Weight lifting naturally lends itself to self-adjustment. If you are working to improve your bench press, you might choose some weight and attempt to perform a number of repetitions. When you can successfully complete that number you increase the weight.

Shooting on the other hand might not be as obvious to adjust. One method to use here is to take your scores from your shooting assessment and compare them against your goal.

Personally I’m trying to improve my F.A.S.T. When I look at my resulting time breakdown, I can see exactly how I performed. Since my goal is for an overall time I compare my component times to what I know are good times. How does my draw, reload, and follow up shots stack up against David Sevigny’s (or some other master class shooter)? I know my reload time is the component furthest from my goal, so I emphasize my training towards correcting that weak spot. When my assessment indicates that my reloads have improved, I will refocus onto my next weakest area.

Why base your training off of assessments?

When you train without a defined purpose, or without clearly measurable goals, you are destined to not hold yourself to a real standard. Measuring your progress allows you to confirm that what you are doing is really working. If you find yourself expending lots of effort for little gain, it might be time to try something different.

Your goal in training should be to improve your ability as a whole, but also to round yourself out. The shooter with the best draw in the world but the worst reloads isn’t the best shooter in the world; instead, the shooter with the best balance of skills will always be better. The same goes for just about anything. If you only train what you want to train, or what you are good at, you won’t really be improving yourself because these big gaps in your overall abilities will remain. Using methods to assess your progress and logically determine what to work on takes your ego out of the loop and allows you to work on what you really need to work on.

How do you assess your skills and determine what to train?

1st Quarter Goals Checkup (Time to revisit your goals)

 

Photo by theogeo

Did you set goals this year? Any New Year’s resolutions? I hope you did because without setting goals you can only hope to be aimless and disorganized with your training. We set goals so we have something to aim for. Training is the journey, but goals are the waypoints or destination.

If training is a journey and your goal is the destination, then it makes sense to periodically check and make sure you are getting closer to the destination. Just like we keep our eyes open when we drive to make sure we don’t swerve off the road, we need to pay attention to our training ,making sure we stay on course for reaching our goals.

Since 25% of the year is already behind us, this is a perfect time to check on your progress. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you discern whether you are being effective in reaching your goals:

Have you completed any goals?

Sometimes we set goals that are easier to achieve than we expected. It’s not impossible that you have already completed one or more of your goals for the year. If you have, that’s great – pat yourself on the back. If not, make sure you are making progress toward your goal.

Once you have completed a goal, you should ask yourself what is next. If you’ve already completed a goal by now and you were hoping to reach it by the end of the year, you still have 75% of the year left. This would be a good time to set a new goal to take yourself further.

One of my goals for this year was to increase my flexibility, specifically to improve my “touch your toes” stretch. I achieved this goal after roughly a month. This was a perfect opportunity for me to set a new goal, perhaps to stretch farther than I can now. In my case since I already had goals for other stretches, I intend to double down and focus even more on those stretches.

Are you making progress toward your goals?

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t accomplished a goal yet, progress may be just as good. Progress is a huge motivator. If you are getting worse, or staying stagnant, you need to revisit how you are attacking your goals. Three months without progress is a sign that it’s time to try something else.

Are you making enough progress toward your goals?

Hand in hand with making progress is making enough progress. One of my goals this year is to effectively triple the number of pullups I can do in a single set from 8 to 25. At my last check, I was performing around 11. At the rate of improving by 1 per month, I definitely won’t meet my goal by the end of the year. I am currently taking a crack at Stew Smith’s pullup push workout, which should give me a huge leg up towards this goal by the end of the week. I’ll revisit my current max and see what I need to do to reach my goal.

If it doesn’t look like you can reach a goal, you have two options. The first is to give up on that goal and pull it in to a more realistic level. There is no shame in this if you set yourself up with a super-human objective that you couldn’t dream of reaching. The second option is to take another look at your approach. Maybe you need more workout or practice sessions, or maybe getting some mentoring or instruction might help.

Whatever your goals, do take a serious look at them and your current progress. If you never course correct you will have a harder time reaching these goals. Most of the things we are trying to achieve take a lot of time and focus. If we don’t make the best use of our time, then our goals are out the window.

How are you doing with your goals?

Beginning Training Series: Setting Goals and Making Them Happen

Today I will be discussing setting goals and how to achieve them as part of my series on beginning training.

Setting Goals

Possibly the most important thing to be thinking about when you are trying to begin your training is to make sure you have clear goals set. Not setting goals is one of the worst things you can do. With no clear target, your training will be aimless and eventually will fall into the background. Face it, we all live very busy lives, and one of the first things to get sacrificed is our training time.

Here are some things to think about when setting goals:

Limit the total number of goals:

Having 20 goals means you probably won’t achieve most of them. The more goals you have, the more divided your time will be. Keep the number down somewhere between three and seven, and focus on those.

Prioritize your goals:

If you have a lot of goals, there will be times you’ll have to sacrifice some of them due to limited time. Make sure you have an idea which ones are more important to you.

Make them attainable:

I can set a goal to be able to do one million pullups and be able to hit a quarter from 200 yards one handed with a pocket pistol. This doesn’t mean I have any chance of succeeding. Pick goals and limit them in scope to what you can achieve. When you get there you can always set a new goal. Make sure your deadlines are realistic as well.

Use measurable goals:

Not all goals are created equal. A measurable goal will always be better than an unmeasurable one. What I mean by this is that if you have no way to measure your progress against a goal, then you are wasting your time. Rather than set a goal to ‘shoot faster’ I would set a goal like shooting a clean FAST in under 5 seconds.

Set a due date:

Goals without a due date tend not to be met. If you don’t have that deadline you won’t maximize your effort to get it done. A good way to keep motivated is to set intermediate deadlines and goals that help you achieve the big one. Try not to have more than a few months to your next deadline.

Attaining your goals

Once you have set your goals, you need to make sure you have a plan to get there. Can I really expect to achieve my goals if I set them and forget them? A good way to make sure you succeed is by using a training journal. Write down your goals and track your progress. If improving your shooting is part of your goal, keep track of not only your scores and times, but where your shots hit the target. You never know when looking at months of shooting history might lead to an epiphany or help you diagnose a hardware problem.

 The most important part of reaching your goals is to map each goal to a training activity or activities. If I want to get stronger, then I should be planning on setting aside time to strength train. If I want to speed up my draw-stroke, I need to plan on spending time training that. It isn’t rocket science, but it is easy to forget that you need to set up a program based on what you want to achieve.

 Now that you know what you need to do and what your priorities are, it is time to start setting up that program.

 Creating a program

 If you have a tight schedule, this may be more difficult. If your schedule is consistent, grab your calendar when you sit down to do this. You need to break out different blocks of time, and make sure each of the activities you selected for reaching your goals is fit into each one. You can make Mondays and Wednesdays gym days and Tuesdays and Thursdays combatives days with the weekend dedicated to shooting for example. This all comes down to you, what you are trying to achieve, and when you have time to do it.

 If your schedule isn’t as predictable, you might consider determining what the blocks are without scheduling them. You can then rotate which block you do whenever you have some time. Here is where you priorities come into play. If you cannot always do everything, start at the beginning of your list again every week. Make sure your higher priority activities are at the beginning of the list, and you should always be able to make time for your highest priority.

 Tracking results

 The second half of making sure that you achieve your goals is logging your progress. The key benefit to keeping the training journal is that you can see progress. Progress is a great motivator. However, don’t be discouraged if progress is slow. Never use your journal as an excuse to change your training plans every day. Give yourself a good several weeks to several months to decide if something is or isn’t working for you.

Everything in your training ultimately begins and ends with goals. First, you select them. Second, you determine the best way to achieve them. Next, you work towards achieving them. And finally you measure your success.

 What are your goals for your training in 2012? Please post a comment and share them.

Do You Know Thy Enemy?

Why do you train? I’m going to stop and make an assumption here for a moment that your training in some form of combatives is because you want to increase your efficacy at fighting. Whether you are training to be a competition fighter or learning how to be a door-kicker to go on tour over in the sandbox, you are training with a particular adversary in mind. It might be the champ you’re fighting next week at the local fight night or it could be some scumbag who wants to kill you and destroy everything you stand for.

Does it matter?

YES

Knowing the tools, techniques, and tactics of your adversary can be the difference between survival and death. Without an idea of your adversary and his strengths or weaknesses you could be putting too much emphasis on unnecessary skills and creating your own weaknesses.

Analyzing your adversary

Before starting a new training regimen (or at least before getting too deep in your training), sit down and think about who you are fighting. If you have a specific person in mind, you need to do some research and find out their specific history, watch some film, whatever it takes.

If you’re training for a slightly more generic mission, you need to look at the generic adversary.

I train to prepare for that day that will hopefully never come when someone decides to try and mug or kill me in the street. My adversary will probably be some lowlife, and he will probably have a friend or friends who are trying to help him. He’ll likely be armed and think that I am not armed. He will attack me when he thinks he has the upper hand. He is more likely to want something I have than take my life, but I can’t assume that is the case.

Make sure you take the time to figure out who you will be fighting.

Adapt your training

Once you know your adversary, it is time to adjust your training. Find out what holes in your current training exist that this adversary might exploit and plan on fixing them. What skills do you need to defeat him?

Training just to train is great, but training with a purpose is better. Make sure to pressure test with this opponent in mind. Did you find yourself winded or outmatched in your strength? You should also adapt your physical training to fill the gaps found by pressure testing.

Don’t get tunnel vision

Once you finish making your plan for adapting your training, don’t forget to check for and try to prevent tunnel vision. Just because you have an IDEA who your adversary is doesn’t mean you have him pegged. Even if you know who your adversary is next week ,you still need to think about the next fight. Make sure you look at your specific plan and look at your own known general strengths and weaknesses. Adapt this plan as needed to make sure you are constantly working to improve. Life is unpredictable and so is your opponent.

Who is your enemy? What do you need to focus? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

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