Looking Back, Looking Forward: Establishing Training Goals for 2020

I’ve always hated celebrating New Year’s. Maybe it’s the hangovers I used to get. Maybe it was the crowded parties and staying up to celebrate something that didn’t feel very momentous. But if I had to guess, I’d guess it was the forced introspection: in my younger days, I didn’t want to look back on the year that was because I found it wanting. Perhaps that’s why this year, despite its many ups and downs, is one that I feel like looking back on if for no other reason than to make concrete goals as to how this coming year will be even better. So in the spirit of looking forward and planning goals for my new year, it’s necessary, however briefly, to look back at where 2019 took me.

Beginning on a personal level: I welcomed my first daughter, Lily, to the world on April 18th. She’s wrecked my writing schedule, my sleep schedule and my training schedule but without losing the forest by staring at the trees: she’s been wonderful and fatherhood has been wonderful.

As far as this blog has been concerned: Writing has always been a passion of mine, and this blog, marrying that passion with another (martial arts) has been a great creative outlet for me. In 2019, I received over 22,000 page views from over 10,000 unique visitors.

Regarding martial arts: it’s been a bit of a mixed bag, though the positives have certainly outweighed the negatives.

  • At the beginning of the year, I sliced my hand open: a wound that has mostly healed, but that will, likely, never fully recover. I have most of my range of motion back, but no sensation in my left thumb. This took me out of training for almost four months and meant that I missed what was to be my first tournament. I’ve been back to Katori only sporadically, for reasons about which, to be honest, I could only speculate and won’t do here.
  • I did finally compete in August, though, taking taking bronze while getting my first loss (and win) out of the way.
  • I missed another tournament in September, waking up the morning of with horrendous food poisoning that saw me spending the day in urgent care instead of on the mats. In December, I was promoted to blue belt, carrying with it an exciting new world– and intimidating new challenges.

Whew. Glad to have that out of the way. I told you I hated forced retrospection. So let’s look forward here, shall we?

Regarding my personal life: I won’t bore you with it. You’re welcome.

Regarding this blog: The aforementioned eight month old that has cut into my writing, sleep and training schedules is unlikely to relent on any of those fronts, but in the face of adversity we must press on. I intend to keep writing as long as people are willing to keep reading. The discussions, both private and public, that have emerged from this blog were some of my favorite parts of 2019. I also intend to seek out more guest articles, so if you’ve got something interesting to say about martial arts hit me up and let me know what you’ve got.

Regarding my training: It’s time to kick this mofo into high gear. In the spirit of starting the new year right (and because my baby won’t allow me to stay up late or get drunk), I ran a Resolution Run 5K this morning. Despite not having run for over six months, the shape that I’ve gotten into from Jiu Jitsu allowed me to come in at a perfectly respectable (for me) 8:41 pace.

Great? No. Great for me? Yeah.

Speaking of Jiu Jitsu, my goals there are both nebulous (prove to myself I deserve the belt I was recently given) and concrete (compete six times this year). I’ve already signed up for my first tournament, and planned out three more. All that remains is to do the work.

This has been a whole lot about me, so in closing it’s important to note that while my goals are personal, sharing goals and creating accountability.

In my opinion, New Year’s Resolutions fail because:

  1. People set the wrong goals for themselves. They decide to join a gym but, thinking all exercise is basically the same, they fail to find something that will keep them interested. Once that initial motivation is gone, so too is the person.
  2. People set unrealistic goals for themselves. Deciding, for instance, to run a marathon is year is a great goal: but if you’re thirty pounds overweight and have never run in your life, all you’re doing is setting yourself up for injury and failure.
  3. People set the right goals for themselves, but pursue them the wrong way. Maybe they choose the wrong martial arts school. Maybe they overtrain. Maybe what they thought they wanted isn’t what they wanted at all.
  4. People don’t set up accountability for themselves. One of the biggest joys I’ve taken from martial arts are the relationships I’ve forged along the way: training partners keeping me honest by bugging me when I haven’t come to train in a while is a great way to ensure that my motivation becomes discipline and my discipline becomes results.

What are your goals in your training, both short, medium, and long term? How, specifically, do you plan to reach those goals?

In this coming year, I’m hopeful that I will remain motivated, disciplined, accountable, and willing to do the hard work in my training. My family and I wish the same for you in 2020.

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade. Happy 365 more days until I have to reflect upon my year again.

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