Every so often people ask me how I manage to do so many things in my life. People often find it hard to make time for things like martial arts, writing, and other hobbies while balancing their jobs and personal relationships. My ability to live life efficiently and effectively is about knowing my roles and setting goals.
Knowing Your Roles
We all have roles in our lives. Some we choose. Some are chosen for us. To live life efficiently and effectively, it’s important not to let other people define our roles for us. You have to choose your own path. You’re more likely to stay focused and motivated if you’ve chosen your roles based on your own personal values.
Here are my roles for example (in no particular order):
1) martial artist
These are the roles that I define myself by. Knowing these roles is fundamental to setting personal goals. Of course, I do other things with my life. I do marketing contract work as a sort of “day job”, but notice that I didn’t put “marketing consultant” on the list. It is not one of my life roles that define me. Though the work I do as a marketing consultant does play a factor is my role as “wife” in terms of providing in my family, and for my role as “teacher” as I use the skills to bring in more students.
Without setting goals, people often end up spinning their wheels, or working very hard to end up in a place they don’t want to be. This is not the way to live life efficiently. Once you’ve set your roles, you should set goals related to them, long term, medium term, short term and daily. This sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it’s fun work.
Long term goals are about what you want most in life. Ask yourself this: what do you want to have accomplished by the end of your life? Let yourself dream big. One of my long term goals is to be a martial arts master who truly understands the inner workings of the arts and has an international reputation as a teacher. I also want to be an internationally renowned author, with several dozen books under my belt.
Medium Term Goals
Medium term goals are ones that you’re working toward over the next 1-3 years or so. These should be related to your long term goals. Following my long term goals listed above, I have the following medium term goals; I want to earn my purple belt in Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu (by March 2011). I want to promote at least 5 students to purple or blue belt (by July 2011). I want to establish of base of 40 students (by January 2012). I want to move to a larger dojo location that would allow me to use all my mats (by April 2012). I want to publish a martial arts book (by January 2012).
Short Term Goals
Short term goals are your weekly and/or monthly goals. Depending on the scope of your work, you may prefer to use one or the other, or a combination of the two. For example, following my medium term goal of wanting to earn my purple belt, here are a couple of examples of monthly goals: Train in Shorinji Kan curriculum at least 8 times. Memorize the Japanese terms for each technique. Weekly goals are simply an extension of these, for example: Train in Shorinji Kan curriculum twice. Memorize the Japanese terms for 4 techniques.
Daily goals are probably the most important part of the whole goal setting process. Personally, I set 6 goals for myself each day that all pertain to my life roles. Here is an example of a typical set of daily goals:
1) Write a blog post for Jiu-jitsuSensei.com. (roles: martial artist, teacher, writer)
2) Plan belt gradings for the next month and email students about dates (roles: martial artist, teacher).
3) Do 3 hours of marketing contract work (roles: wife).
4) Finish writing wedding thank you cards (roles: daughter, sister, friend, wife).
5) Do visualization practice and work on memorizing 4 Japanese terms for Shorinji Kan techniques (roles: martial artist).
6) Run a great class at the dojo tonight (roles: martial artist, teacher).
There may be other tasks I need to do in a day that appear on a separate list, but these ones are ones that pertain to my life roles and ultimately, my long term goals. If something on this list doesn’t get done in a day, it gets bumped to the top of the list the next day. By always adhering to your daily goals, you ensure that every day you’re doing something that contributes to what you want to be and achieve in life.
I will continue on with this theme further in my next blog post about reducing or eliminating time wasters.