Happy New Year!
Let us hope that 2024 will bring peace and sanity to the world.
Throughout my years as a self-defense teacher, I’ve seen the same “New Year’s Resolution Rush” to the studio. “My resolution is to learn self-defense.” I think it’s a fantastic resolution, yet, statistically, over 50% quit by February.
Why did this enthusiasm fade away?
Too often, people set unattainable goals. Objectives that are too ambitious or vague are hard to reach. For instance, resolving to “lose weight” without a healthy plan will likely lead to failure because the path to get there is not clearly defined.
To succeed at your resolution, you need to set an Attainable Goal – a reasonable objective that you will need to work for, but not something that is too far-reached. As an example, if you wish to run a half marathon this year, you don’t start with a 10-mile run when you are out of shape. You start with one mile. After a while, you add more. Only when you finally can finish a half marathon do you start running for time.
Designate time to meet your objectives. Do you know what happens to goals when you don’t set times to meet them? They get pushed aside because life is getting in the way. No need to go “all-in”. Set an hour or two every week and respect that time no matter what.
Track your progress. When we don’t keep track of our progress, we often don’t notice the changes. Changes don’t happen overnight, they happen slowly and steadily. I often refer to the “Sorites paradox“ (E.I, the “Paradox of the heap”). Each practice session or lesson might feel like a minuscule addition to one’s ability, similar to a single grain of sand in a heap. Initially, these efforts might seem too small to make a difference. But they do, cumulatively.
Whatever you do counts. Whatever you don’t do also counts. So track your progress, turn your goal into a lifestyle, and don’t get discouraged by a difficult process. You have tangible evidence of achievements when you track your progress, which is highly motivating.
In 2017, a dear friend of mine, who wasn’t in great shape at the beginning of that year, posted on social media that he had finally completed a 60-minute plank challenge. I was intrigued to try when I saw his progress and how his body was much stronger. I wondered, “Can I achieve such a goal?” After 10 seconds of negative self-talk, I snapped out of it and decided to prove to myself I could do it.
2017 was a big year for me. I just built my 3rd gym, the one you know as KME Brooklyn and my 2nd son was born around the same time. Time was a resource I couldn’t afford, and spending 60 mins a day planking wasn’t feasible. So I started with 1 minute on the first day, which was simple and easy. Each day, I added 15 seconds. Even when it felt “too easy,” I didn’t add more time to my daily plank.
Before I realized, I was holding 15 minutes, and then 20. The nights were sleepless as my newborn son was waking up a lot, so I decided to do the plank challenge when I woke up at night to soothe him.
When I achieved just over 30 mins, my time resources were cut short, and I decided it was enough for me. Why? Because my goal wasn’t 60 minutes, my goal was to see if I could. Thirty minutes didn’t feel like a challenge at that point, and I allowed myself to stop because I knew I could keep going and do it. I learned once again that the mind is the limit, but even if my mind didn’t limit me, time did.
Motivation fades, discipline doesn’t. Discipline is built through repeated actions and is more about commitment and dedication than mood. So, let me explain it through my personal experiences. I have goals that I haven’t met for over a decade, and others I have crushed and reached far beyond what I imagined was possible for me.
As an example, one goal I never reached was learning Spanish. In 2008, I took a Spanish class (which I didn’t enjoy), bought books to practice, and invested some resources in learning, but I didn’t make enough time to practice. No one in my immediate environment spoke Spanish, so I couldn’t converse and practice. A couple of years later, I hired a tutor, and even though she was amazing at teaching, I didn’t make the time to practice between sessions. I got discouraged and eventually left. Clearly, it wasn’t her fault I made no progress, but mine alone.
If I had learned only ONE WORD a day since I hoped to learn Spanish, I would have known approximately 5500 words. I would have been good at it if I had allowed myself to progress steadily in smaller steps. I could have been way ahead if I kept it simple.
Discipline leads to habits. When you practice consistently, it leads to the formation of habits. Habits are behaviors that become automatic, requiring less effort and mental energy. Once a habit is established, the need for constant motivation decreases, making it easier to continue the behavior.
Just as juggling more balls increases the difficulty and the likelihood of dropping them, having too many resolutions can overwhelm your ability to focus and succeed. It’s more effective to concentrate on a few key goals, ensuring better management of your efforts and a higher chance of success.
Failure to Address Root Causes Of Failure. Often, the habits we aim to reform through our resolutions are just surface manifestations of deeper problems. If we don’t tackle these foundational issues, our efforts are likely to fall short.
By recognizing and addressing these core challenges, we can create more realistic and attainable goals, as well as devise effective strategies for lasting change. Allow me to explain: Our current lifestyle might be an issue for failure. If one of your goals is to reduce screen time, but your work requires a lot of computer time, you won’t achieve your goal unless you switch jobs. Or, perhaps you chose the wrong objective…
Self-awareness & reflection is always necessary, no matter what you are trying to achieve in life. Understanding why you engage in a certain behavior/relationship is the first step in altering it.
When you identify the root causes of those behaviors, you can form a plan for how to change them. A small but realistic goal will help change the bigger picture over time. The key to a positive change is balance and intention. Amazing things usually don’t happen without full intent.
So, how do you do something amazing?
Don’t be afraid to do something hard. You might fail, which is a blessing and will serve you best over time, because failure is your best teacher. Or you might achieve something amazing without many lessons along the way. Embrace it either way.
Lastly, I recommend you share your goals with your friends and family. At least for me, this strategy works. In that spirit, I want to share that this coming year, you can expect to see more podcast episodes of “Krav-Talk” from me, a published book and documentary that I am very thrilled to be producing. I also promise to continue to be involved in each KME student’s progress.
Let’s all do something amazing,
Founder & CEO
Krav Maga Experts