Decreasing Stress, Encouragement, Karate, Learn to Appreciate, Motivational, Philosophy

You Are Too Smart to Not Set Goals

I do not know why, but when I sit down to write out my goals, all I end up doing is staring at a blank computer screen or a blank sheet of paper. While my mind usually feels full of ideas and experiences that I want to pursue, when it comes time to actually memorialize them, I freeze, even when I ask myself, “What do I really want?”

It is a big question, and a scary one, too. Once you finally admit to yourself what you want, you have create a monster of a goal that looks immense and overwhelming. You never write it down. It can never happen for a slew of reasons that enter your mind immediately.

* I am not smart enough

* I do not have any experience

* No one wants to hear what I have to say

* I am not important

* No one will believe me

* I do not have the time

* I do not have the confidence

Every negative reason, excuse, and thought takes over, before you ever put pen to paper, or fingers to the keypad. You decide you can never accomplish that goal, or any other, and your creativity comes to a halt.

In martial arts, goal setting is taught very subtly, but there is a tangible output for achievement. A sash, belt, or just recognition from your instructor helps you gain momentum in what you want to accomplish. In the styles that I practice, there are belt rankings. Honestly, there is no better feeling than putting in the effort, and reaping the reward of advancement.

Instructors may ask your goals when you join their program, but it is unlikely that they will ask you again, or suggest that you write down what you want or expect from your martial art practice. It is simply implied by virtue of you being there, that you wish to learn and grow, and yes, even achieve.

What, then, is the difference between martial art goals, and goals in life?  You know where you stand in your martial art training and what is expected, and you accept it. Knowing that your instructor believes in you is all that you need.

In life, however, memorializing goals is up to you only. The reason you never write them down is because you see them as not successes, but potential failures. You focus on what you think others might think of you, and not what you really want.

There are no right or wrong goals. They are simply ideas of what you would like to do, overcome, or accomplish. Focus on yourself, and not what you perceive as others’ reactions to your goals. Loosen the reigns a little. If you cannot come up with specific goals, brainstorm.

This is a free-thinking exercise where you write down everything that comes to mind, no matter how big or little it is. It could range from being a rock star, to publishing a book, to losing 3 pounds, to learning a new skill, going to Disney World, buying a new bike, saving money, or being cast in a movie or commercial. Free thinking helps you see patterns of personal development and what is important to you, without any stipulations.

Being a rock star and being cast in a commercial may seem like huge goals for a person with no prior experience, yet that is not a positive way to look at it. No one knows your dreams, except you. Accept them and throw them on your list of goals. Then, come up with a few baby steps, such as taking a music lesson, acting class, or learning to play an instrument, or improving upon an existing skill.

Take the effort that you need to make a dream into a goal and eventually into a reality. Stop limiting yourself. You have gifts and talents that are in many ways endless. You have barely tapped into your potential.

Most people shy away from writing their goals because they think of them as a test or quiz, or spend a lot of time wondering if their goals are “right.” There is, however, no grading mechanism. You follow a plan or process and if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay, too. You may change your mind, decide upon a better path, or change direction because once you get started you immediately recognize that it is not the right path for you, after all. Usually though, once you set a goal and write it down, you figure it out.

I always had a goal of writing for a magazine and writing a book. Both seemed monumental. How would I ever do it? I found out that “How?” is not the right question. Rather, I should have asked “Why?” As long as the “Why?” makes sense, then I was able to apply a little self-trust and move forward.

My biggest advice about goals is, do not wait another day without creating a list of goals. Choose some that are easy, some of medium difficulty, and some that are big and fluffy, like dreams. Identify what you want to accomplish in what time frames, and what are short, medium, or long-term goals.

Create a chart or list, and refer to it frequently. Your mind will take over. You will react and subconsciously achieve some of the goals, and for others you must work diligently. When you cross a goal off your list as complete, you will feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, that you would otherwise never experience if you had never written your goals down.

Stop worrying about what others may think, or about your insecurities or fears of never being able to accomplish your goals. You change every day, and some of your goals will change over time, as well. Most of your goals will stick around for a long while as you bring them to fruition. Keep moving forward and you will be amazed at how many goals you complete.

That computer screen or blank piece of paper do not need to remain empty or blank. It’s up to you to write your life story and fill them up! The beginning and end of your goals are completely up to you. One day all of your successes will add up and you will be happy that you put a great plan into action that helped you get there. You are too smart to not set goals!




My new book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available. Purchase through my e-commerce store:

The Martial Arts Woman book shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives.

Unlike most other martial art books, the reader will catch a glimpse into the brave and empowered woman who dares to be all that she can be. Many of these women had to overcome great societal or personal challenges to break into the men’s world of martial arts. This book will motivate and inspire you to go after your goals in life and to fight through every challenge and defeat every obstacle. The Martial Arts Woman will open your eyes to the power of the human spirit and the martial art mindset that dwells in each of us!
Andrea F. Harkins is a writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available at

5 thoughts on “You Are Too Smart to Not Set Goals

  1. You are so right about setting goals. Every time someone suggests write down your bucket list or write down your thoughts or write down your weaknesses or strengths, I really have good intentions that I will do it. In Bible study along with our reading and questions, we had one thing to meditate on and it was a biggie for me at least. We even have a week off as our instructor is away this week and I haven’t done it until I get everything else around me completed. My housework has to be done. My yardwork has to be done. Then I will be able to sit down and concentrate on just that! I have to concentrate on something that is important to me in my quiet space. That’s how I do it. One thing, clearly, precisely, with nothing else on my mind.

  2. You are absolutely right, one of the things I share with my friends who speak out loud their goals is “a master has failed more times then a beginner ever has tried”
    My second favorite is don’t give me 10,000 reasons you can’t but 1 reason you can!
    I love reading your words, they motivate me to be better daily and for that I am grateful.

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