Goal Setting Part 2: The SMART Principle


The SMART principle refers to a mnemonic acronym, giving guidelines in the setting of objectives or goals.

Specific – target a specific area for improvement, or aim for a specific target.
Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
Aggressive – push yourself, don’t make it too easy.
Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Timed – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Lets look at how we can apply this to our Jiu Jitsu goal setting. Before we jump in, let’s remove any mention of belts or grading from our goal setting. Getting that next belt could be something that happens as a result of achieving your goals but it shouldn’t be our goal.

To start off lets imagine I am a new blue belt, before I apply the SMART principle:
My goal is to start competing soon.
Let’s run this through the SMART criteria and see how it comes out.

“To start competing soon” is not very specific. A more specific action would be to pull out the calendar and pencil in a date. So, the let’s say Irish Open is on in April 28th.

My goal now is to compete in the Irish Open on April 28th.

To get in competition shape I am going to need to train more than the twice a week I regularly train. I also need to decide which division I’m going to compete in, right now I am 85kg, Middle weight is under 82kg and Middle heavy is under 88kg. Am I going to drop a couple of kilos or will I stay at this weight and risk being too small. I can measure my weight on a scales and I can add up how many times a week I train.

“My goal now is to compete at Middle Weight in the Irish Open and train 4 times a week from now until the competition”

So far our goal has changed quite a bit, but it’s still missing that aggressive or ambitious aspect. We say that in Jiu Jitsu competition we either win or we learn, that there are no losers, but thats not a very aggressive attitude to have in competition. A more aggressive mindset would be to medal at this competition or an even more aggressive mindset would be to win it all.

“My goal now is to win gold at Middle Weight in the Irish Open and train 4 times a week from now until the competition”

Here is where you have a little reality check if need be. I think my goals so far are realistic. An example of an unrealistic goal would be to win the worlds at Black Belt next year, I couldn’t even afford to travel to the worlds next year so to even win the worlds at Blue Belt next year is unrealistic.

Our goal is timed in that we have set date that we are competing on. We could even break our goals down into smaller time chunks. I’m only training twice a week now and maybe to jump straight into four times a week might be too much, so what I can do is train 3 times a week for the first month then after that add in the fourth class. Another thing to consider would be the weight loss, I could set individual targets on the calendar to make the final couple of weeks before competition easier.

“My goal now is to win a Gold Medal at Middle Weight in the Irish Open. I need to train 3 times a week for the next month, the following month I will train at least 4 times a week up until the competition. Right now I am 85kg I need to be 79kg two weeks before competition, so I have to lose one kilo each month from now up to the competition”

“I want to be great at side control escapes” – not specific enough, not really measurable, not timed.

A better Example would be “I want to hit Marcelo Garcia’s elbow push side control escape 10 times in live rolling within the next 3 months”

“I’m gonna get good at takedowns this year” – although it’s timed it’s not specific enough, not really measurable.

A better Example would be “I want to have two Judo throws and two Wrestling takedowns that all tie together, I’m gonna drill the shit out of them and have them so strong by this time next year I’m consistently hitting them in live sparring”

This SMART principle is a great guideline for any type of goal setting, have a try and see how it works for you.

Check out part 1 of the series Goal Setting for Beginners here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.