I believe there is no one magical goal-setting process that works for everyone. It all depends on your personality and the magnitude of the goal. So while I often write about goal setting strategies, this post is more about the early steps of a goal-setting journey.
Here is something that works for me when I first consider a major goal, and hopefully can work for you as well. When I get a spark of motivation to develop a specific skill, I set a tiny goal of working on that skill for 10 minutes every day. The most important thing is to never ever EVER skip out on those 10 minutes. No matter what happens, no matter where your life takes you, you must spend 10 minutes doing it. Of course, if the skill requires you to be somewhere (like behind a computer or on the mat), and you can’t possible get there on a particular day, you have to come up with alternative tasks to do for 10 minutes. To keep track of all this, I make a table on Google Docs, and put a check next to every day that I accomplish this goal, and every day better get a damn check next to it! Here’s a cool video on habits and goals:
For example, I decided that I will watch judo or jiu jitsu competition footage for 10 minutes every day. Now, for many people, including myself, there are plenty of days where I easily watch way over that and am happy to do it. But trust me when I tell you that there are days when just 10 minutes is torture. On those days, I’m tired, discouraged, busy with work, or a mix of all these and more.
What’s the point of this process? I’m building a habit. You have to get your body and mind used to doing this task every day. You have to get past the first several weeks that essentially a roller coaster ride of REALLY wanting to do it and wanting to quit forever.
Once the foundation of the habit is built, then the sky is the limit. If you found that it’s something that seems to be working for you, then you can slowly increase the time you spend on the task every day. But be careful! You’re setting a lower limit on the time. You can do more, but you can never do less. So if you increase the limit from 10 minutes to 30 minutes or even an hour, you better be ready for some rough days.
I apply this little step to a lot of aspects of my life including work and jiu jitsu. It’s definitely challenging and stressful at times, but is ultimately rewarding.