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The Triad of Goals

In the chapter “Set Your Sight on the Target” in my book Liberate Yourself – How to Think Like Bruce Lee, I discussed why I believe it’s important for each of us to have goals. We need goals and objectives to aim at because they give us a sense of direction, something to move towards. If we don’t have them, we can find ourselves either drifting aimlessly, or not going anywhere at all and stagnating. Goals and objectives serve as targets for us to aim at. A goal is a clear “This is what I’m working towards,” or “This is what I want to achieve.”


When it comes to one’s martial art training there are three primary types of goals that are interrelated and interconnected. They are process goals, performance goals, and outcome goals.


Process Goals Process goals specify the processes in which you engage. They are the smaller, individual steps you take to achieve performance goals and ultimately achieve outcome goals.


You could set physical process goals such as moving fluidly around using footwork, keeping your body relaxed while working on upper body evasion movements, maintaining the correct distance between you and the opponent, changing the rhythm, etc.


You could also set mental process goals which deal with things such as your focus or your attitude. Examples of this include choosing to remain confident no matter what happens, such as if you screw up or make a mistake, repeating a positive self-talk routine to yourself each day to help increase confidence and reduce tension or anxiety, or maintaining your detached ‘cool’ when you find yourself under heavy pressure from a tough opponent.


Process goals can be assessed and evaluated by subjective observation by either you, your coach or teacher, or both of you.



Performance Goals -- Performance goals are the result of, and longer than, the process goals you complete on a daily basis. Performance goals specify an end-product and measure progress, such as increasing your accuracy of landing your kicks and punches from sixty to eighty percent, landing more stop-hit counterattacks than parry-then-counter actions, or losing a certain amount of weight weekly.


Performance goals are easier to assess than process goals, because objective measurements can include such things as reaching a specific number of repetitions of kicks or punches each workout, or increasing the number of rounds of hitting the heavy bag, each week, or the amount of weight you lift in an exercise such as a bench press, etc.


Outcome Goals -- Outcome goals refer to a result or final position, such as being the winner in a grappling tournament, making it into the finals of a kickboxing competition, or increasing your lean muscle tissue mass by twenty pounds. Outcome-oriented goals focuses on the large what, whereas process and performance goals focus on the how.

These goals are the hardest to control as they can often tend to be subject to external

challenges and unforeseen circumstances.


Regarding martial arts, your goals can deal with numerous things such as technical proficiency, tactical and strategic skill, fighting skill, mental attitude, and emotional control. There are also other areas goals can deal with such things as the frequency of your training, the quality of your training, or your level of intensity during training or while competing. Whatever it may be, goal-setting strategies clearly focus your mind on particular areas and have great motivational value.


Lack of having goals can lead to decreased motivation, haphazard training, lack of focus and concentration, and reduced performance potential. On the other hand, well-defined training goals can increase your motivation, concentration and focus, and lead to higher levels performance. Goals can guide you toward your destination more efficiently and expediently. They can serve as fuel to power your journey. So take your training to the highest level possible by setting process, performance, and outcome goals for yourself.


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