Alive and Kicking #14 – New Years Resolutions – Proper Goal Setting

by on January 2, 2012

in Alive and Kicking


Alive and Kicking – Martial Arts Over 40


Monday 2 January 2012: Issue #14
Alive and Kicking is published once a week for opted-in subscribers only. If a friend has forwarded this to you, please opt-in at

Published by Brett Kraiger. Your comments are always welcome.


Hi there, and Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2012’s first edition of Alive and Kicking, the newsletter for martial artists over 40. Given the time of year I thought I would touch on goalsetting, and how to set your targets up in such a way that your chance of achieving what you want to achieve goes through the roof.


Many people use the opportunity of a new year to set “New Year’s Resolutions”. But the vast majority of people setting these goals go on to fail at achieving them. Why is this? Well, usually this is at least partly because the goals have not been set the right way.

Say, for example, you are a martial artist over 40, and one of the things you would really like to improve is your flexibility. (Because we all know how important it is to stay on top of your flexibility after age 40, don’t we!). So you might set the goal of “improving my flexibility”.

But already you can see how this goal will fall over, because you really have not set a target at all. Achieve *any* improvement in your flexibility, even the tiniest bit, and you have achieved your goal. You need to be more specific, and your goal needs to be measurable.

So instead of saying “improve my flexibility” you might want to set a more specific goal like “do the full side splits”. This is something that is measurable.

However, perhaps it’s not realistic. A goal of being able to do the full side splits might seem far-fetched, or it might be a much longer-term goal. And the problem is that if you set yourself a target that you really don’t think you are going to be able to achieve, then you will automatically set off your internal resistance mechanisms. (This is something I read about in a great little book called “Do The Work“). Your brain is going to go “no way – not achievable” and find all sorts of excuses to keep you from doing the work to acheive your goal.

So make it measurable. In the case of trying to improve your flexibility there is a very simple measure – and that is the distance between your feet when you are at your maximum stretch. What you need to do is to go into the side splits as far as you can, and measure the distance between your feet. Now you have a baseline, and can set a target that you can believe. Let’s say you want to add 1 foot to that distance, and currently you can stretch to 4ft.

So now the goal shifts from “improve my flexibility” to “when doing side splits, the distance between my feet is 5ft”. Can you see how that is a much more concrete goal?

And notice I did not say “increase the distance between my feet by 1ft”. That’s not good enough; you want to have a goal that you can specifically measure.

However, even this is still not good enough. There is another missing ingredient and that is to set a time frame. I can say that I want to be able to have 5ft between my feet in side split position, but unless I also set myself a date by which I want to achieve this, I’m still setting myself up for failure.

Add a time element too. “By the end of February 2012, when in side splits, the distance between my feet is 5ft”.

Now you are talking!

This same method applies to any New Year’s Resolutions that you may have set.

So it’s not “Lose weight”, but “Lose 10lb by the end of February”.
It’s not “Get fitter”, it’s “Run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes by the end of March”

Get the idea? .


While on the subject of goal setting, one other thing to think about doing is to make sure you vary up the work that you do to achieve the goal.

Take the goal of being able to run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes. Most people will approach this by marking out a 1.5 mile circuit and running it as often as they can. While this is helping you towards that target, there’s a good chance that you will tire of the training routine, or get disheartened by a lack of progress.

So you need to make the training far less routine. Keep it interesting.

Some ways of varying your training for this specific goal would be:

  • Go for a 10 minute run. 5 minutes out and 5 minutes back. Every time you do this, try to go a little bit further. You won’t be running 1.5 miles to start with, but you’ll get there.
  • Set your 1.5 mile circuit, but you are only allowed to run in two ways… hard out fast, or walking. No slow jogging, no crawling along. Run as hard as you can, then walk until you are ready to run again. Over time the walking will become less and less
  • Run 3 miles! If you can get yourself moving along for 3 miles, when you go back to a 1.5 mile run it will seem easy by comparison.
  • Set yourself a 100 yard track. Then run it 27 times.


I’m on holiday this week, out of town in a quiet rural area (but not too far from civilization). It’s really nice to have a chance to get away from the daily routine and refresh yourself.

Although I’m not so sure that I’m feeling all that refreshed. I went for a long bike ride this morning, and for some mad reason I went to the top of the tallest hill around! I don’t know what the elevation was, but I can tell you that it hurt while I was doing it, and it still hurts now – 12 hours later.

On top of that the whole family spent about 2 hours at the local swimming pool which has really taken it out of me. It’s amazing how just larking around in a swimming pool can leave you so tired.


That’s all for this week!

If you have anything you would like to see on the website or in a future newsletter then you can get hold of me by replying directly to this email, commenting on Facebook, or leave your comments on the website. (scroll down)

I’d love to hear about your goals for 2012. It would be great to get a bunch of people commenting on Facebook, and we can all spur each other along!

Thank you for subscribing (and reading!). Back in a week.

All the best!


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Quote of the Day


Everyone has a plan, ’til they get hit.
– Mike Tyson

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