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How to Live Life Efficiently and Effectively | Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu

How to Live Life Efficiently and Effectively

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
2) teacher
3) writer
4) wife
5) daughter/sister
6) friend

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.

Setting Your Goals

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
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
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.

Comments (6)

6 thoughts on “How to Live Life Efficiently and Effectively

  1. That sounds like an awful lot of planning, I agree with the general concept and if you want to achieve anything in life it takes hard work and a minimum of planning but personally planning too much gives me a headache and make me less motivated and efficient. For me my long term goals are:

    1) become a martial arts master someday: to me this means to achieve instructor level in at least 3 arts including JJ
    2) become a sensei and guide at least one individual to black belt level
    3) get my university degree, preferably several
    4) marry my sweetheart (pretty unlikely since we broke up but for some reason I can't shake the notion of us together again someday)
    5) get a meaningful job that pays reasonably well and matches well with my intellectual abilities
    6) achieve a reasonable level of knowledge with respect to the greatest works in literature and the products of the fine arts. Related to 3 but definately not identical.

    For my education I try to keep up with the courses and do any assignements and papers asap. In my personal life I don't really plan anything since I meet my friends whenever I feel like it or they contact me. Training days are set and routine so that's a no brainer. Planning too much tends to suck much of the fun out of doing stuff: some days I feel like doing more, some days less and since I don't know how I'm going to wake up I try to keep the planning to a minimum without foregoing responsibilities or failing to meet deadlines.

    As to your next post: the biggest timewasters are generally other people of the boring and/or nasty kind. I found it's best to eliminate them from your life asap: it saves times, reduces stress and in general makes life more enjoyable. If you aren't for me you're against me and I'm not going to waste my valuable time on you, not when I don't absolutely have to.

    Here's one of the greatest pieces of advice ever:

    "My formula for happiness: a yes, a no, a goal and a straight line to that goal". (Friedrich Nietzsche)

    Just keep that in mind and you'll do fine, another thing he said is that it's foolish to want happiness: all you need is worthwhile work that redeems existence itself and contributes to the greater good. Peope are way too selfish these days, myself included.


  2. I admit it can seem like a lot of work, but I actually enjoy the process. It gets me excited for the future and when I look at how many things I have checked off on my lists as times passes, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

    I know it's not for everyone though. Everyone has to find what works for them personally. At the very least, people can read this post and think about what they can do in their lives to live more efficiently and effectively.

  3. Hi Lori, this is an excellent post. If I could add one thing to it, it would be to make a habit (a lifestyle) of it. If you miss a day, just pick up where you left off.

  4. It is certainly true that we all have to find our own way in life and it's logical that our means of achieving our goals ought to be different since the goals themselves are different. Hence the need to respect other people's paths eventhough they may seem dull or ridiculous to you. I do see the advantage of setting concrete goals for yourself and evaluating periodically how close you've gotten to them, also regular evaluating of the goals themselves and the priority they should have in the present moment. I used to think getting my shodan was terribly important but now my focus is more on studying and looking for a job than anything else, the more so since my training partner has less time to devote to training. It doesn't really matter when as long as it happens at some point: goals are pretty illusionary anyway since the moment the goal is met another one takes it places just like you forget about the bite of food as soon as you swallow it. Still it's good to keep busy, be useful to others and make use of your abilities so they don't fade, still I wonder what the ultimate goal of existence is or should be. Care to venture a guess?


    PS: as an added question I'd like to ask you what you think the ultimate goal of training in the art(s) is or should be and why it's important in the first place.

  5. You've broken down some big ideas into easy to digest chunks.

    I agree that it's important to set goals (short and medium) that are consistent with your 'end game'. By doing so, you aren't putting in wasted time. Also, the mere process of checking off goals is motivating in and of itself. You end up gaining momentum and success breeds success. It's also a great way to make sure you're on the right track for what you really want in life.

    Great post.

    I also wanted to mention that your upcoming work/book on ground fighting sounds very exciting. You've found an area that I think is important and often over-looked. It will be refreshing to read a book that provides practical ground fighting strategies without having to 'take sides' over the whole grappling vs. stand up debate.

    I look forward to the book. Mark me down for a copy!

    While it may not be advantageous to release too much of the content, I'd love to hear about some of the trials and tribulations of writing and publishing a book on martial arts.

    Good luck and happy holidays.

  6. Thanks for all the good comments and support. Zara, I'll be addressing your question to some degree in a blog post next week (not the one I'm doing today).

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