top of page

Goal Setting: Setting Powerful Goals

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”

- Earl Nightingale

Results from one Harvard Business study revealed that people with clear goals were 10 times more successful than those without and those that took the extra step of writing down their goals were 3 times more successful than those who didn’t.

The process of goal setting is similar to that of a ship captain settling upon a destination. Setting sail without a destination would be a recipe for disaster. Adrift in a vast sea, the captain would be at the mercy of the wind and the ocean currents. The more specific the destination, the better the chances that the captain will get to where he/she wants to go. Goals should be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic, and Time bound.


“I will attend a total of at least 60 jiu jitsu classes from January 1st to June 30th.”

“I will give up no more than 6 points over the course of my next 3 jiu jitsu competition matches.”

“I will make clear improvements in my closed guard game by June 30th, as evidenced by:

  • The ability to keep people in my guard for as long as I desire most of the time.

  • Learning how to off-balance my opponent in reliable ways.

  • Learning a go-to sequence of attacks with the ability to stop or counter my opponent’s defensive reactions at each stage of the attack sequence.

Keep in mind, there are many types of goals; outcome goals, process goals, skill-based goals, etc. It’s helpful to use a variety of goals, but keep in mind that John Wooden, the winningest coach in NCAA Basketball history, didn’t focus much on outcome based goals, he focused primarily on process and skill based goals. Specifically, he focused on teaching and training his players to have the skills and characteristics that players on winning teams possess. This approach would garner him 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons as a coach, an 88 game winning streak, and four perfect 30–0 seasons. It’s great to have broad outcome based goals, but focus your attention on developing the specific behaviors, habits, and skills that will lead to the desired outcome.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Setting a destination or a goal is not enough. The captain must plot a clear and detailed route. Each major goal can be broken down into many smaller objectives. How would the captain get to his destination if he/she didn’t have a seaworthy vessel??? Many of us set goals without having thought of the means we need to accomplish the goal. The captain must obtain a ship that is suitable for the journey, stock the ship with sufficient supplies, obtain a crew that is skilled enough for the demands of the journey, and so on and so forth.

Let’s return to the “improve my closed guard” goal detailed above.

I will accomplish this by:

  1. Structuring my weekly schedule so that I have time to devote to this goal.

  2. Staying physically healthy and strong.