We'll soon be bombarded with tips for making New Years Resolutions, setting goals and "making 2016 your best year yet". Making resolutions and setting goals can be challenging, and despite how clichéd it can come across at this time of the year, personally I don't think there is any harm in utilising the New Year to initiate change or refocus ourselves. However, when a goal seems too vast or too difficult to comprehend, we can often fail before we start because we never seriously get started. If we successfully make a change, sticking to it can be even harder.
The key is to take small steps. This is the same as martial arts students having a vision of achieving Black Belt (a minimum 3 1/2 year goal in Choi Kwang-Do), but working on the various Coloured Belts as the 'building blocks' to achieve that goal. Each martial arts class provides the environment and support for the student to work towards those building blocks by learning the martial arts syllabus to take gradings. Upon successful promotion following a grading the student is awarded the new belt rank. The result? A small step towards their goal and increased motivation.
Here's a quick and simple process that you can use to help you take small steps towards your own goals in 2016:
1. On a piece of paper write down today's date followed by a personal goal, but keep it really simple. Think more "eat a piece of fruit every day", rather than "go to the moon in July". Ideally you'll want to write a SMART goal. For a description of this take a few minutes to read Benefit #9 - Goal Setting from The Top 10 Benefits of Choi Kwang Do.
2. Give yourself 1 minute - and 1 minute only - to write down any actions, thoughts or ideas related to achieving that goal. Many will be obvious while others will require you to think a little harder. Either way, keep writing going for the full 60 seconds, even if the idea initially seems ridiculous or impractical. You can criticise later. For now you just want to get the ideas flowing.
3. When the minute is up go back through the list and select 2 or 3 actions and set a date for them to be completed by. Many will jump out at you to be done immediately. Avoid the temptation to take on too much at this stage.
4. Take ACTION. This is critical. As soon as possible do one of your selected actions from the list. It is vital to keep the momentum going whilst you're in a creative mood and are motivated. Once you have completed the actions, return to the list, cross through what you have done, then select 2 or 3 more actions giving them completion dates too.
5. At the end of the month, spend a few minutes reviewing your progress. I like to use the following questions as they focus your mind on what you can learn or improve, rather than what you failed at:
- What went well?
- What was challenging?
- What would you do differently?
If the goal is complete, fantastic! Reward yourself (with a chocolate egg?) If not, select 2 or 3 items from the list, assign dates and take action again. Then review your progress at the end of the next month.
Does this sound simple to you? Great...it's supposed to be!
Of course, for bigger, more complex or very important goals you would need to spend more time planning and organising actions, but for simple goals this process might be effective for you. It's designed to assist in regularly taking small but regular steps with minimal analysis.
2016 is here so if you try this or already use a different process that works well for you, feel free to share your ideas.
Jason Wright is a 6th Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor in the martial art Choi Kwang-Do. For further information on Choi Kwang-Do classes in Ealing, West London visit www.TheMartialArtForLife.com