I have been practicing the art of goal-setting since I got back on the mats. Thirteen years ago a friend invited me to check out his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy. My friend became my sensei and I got hooked in the gentle art. Then, a severe back injury and two family tragedies forced me out of the mats. I never thought I’d be able to roll again. 

I finally felt ready emotionally and physically to get back on the mats. After much prayer and reflection I decided to visit Gracie Humaita in La Mesa, CA. I met my new sensei (who has become a really good friend) last August. With his encouragement and, primarily, divine enablement, I decided to give it another try. It was a total of seven years away from the art. I probably would have been at least a brown belt by now, but I do not regret my time off. The primary reason is that I learned to set and manage my goals, something I have been using not only in my BJJ game, but in other areas of my life. 

My first objective, when I stepped into a dojo again last August was simply to not get hurt. It was agonizing to see the inversions and berimbolos of my teammates. With a ruptured disk in my spine I quickly decided to defend my guard the old way. 

My second goal was to get back in shape. I am now in my mid-thirties, and for virtually seven years I did nothing to prevent the extra pounds. It’s been great to see them shed. 

My third goal was to adapt my game to a new reality (adaptation is a fundamental of BJJ). So far I have been able to incorporate “smash and pass.” This was not my strength before my injury. 

My fourth goal is to maintain consistency. Since competition is out of the question (at least for now) I can focus on the self-defense aspect of the game and maintain regularity in training.

My final goal is progress at my own pace. I used to think that if I didn’t get a belt promotion in a year something was wrong with me. Not anymore. I learned to never measure myself against the progress of others.

Dusting off that old Gi really paid off. I have been more disciplined in other areas of my life, too. I also found that I have been able to reach my personal and professional goals, one task at a time. 

Learning proper goal-setting was one of the benefits I got from BJJ. How has BJJ helped you? 

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