As promised last week, Luca Senatore, founder of and head mind coach at MMA Mind Power, will be sharing with us practical tips to achieve top mental fitness and win the mind game in MMA. This week’s article is about the importance of Goal Setting in MMA.
Many have overlooked the importance of goal setting and paid the price for doing so. Now it is becoming more and more evident that this process is an important part of any MMA athlete’s training.
Not knowing what you want specifically is like travelling without knowing where you are going and if you don’t know where you are going you will end up just “somewhere.” You need to have clear goals that fire up a burning desire to achieve them. In this article, I will give you some pointers on how to set your goals in such way to create motivation, desire, and vision.
The very first thing you must do is to write down your goals. Here I will illustrate how to set a goal using both long-term and short-term examples, however, in order to maximize your chances of success, you need to go through this process for both your long-term goals (like being the champion of Promotion ABC) and also for each of your fights. If you want to achieve the greatest possible motivation and vision, your goals must be set in a very specific way.
Here is how:
Stated in the positive
This means having or doing something you want as opposed to not having or not doing something you don’t want. Examples are: “I am the middleweight champion of ABCD promotion” or “I won the fight after three minutes of the second round by ground and pound” or “I am about to enter the cage and I feel calm and focused.” These are all stated in the positive instead of saying something like “I am about to enter the cage and I am not feeling stressed.” Even if you are stating that you are not feeling stressed, you might end up feeling stressed because your mind does not process negative information. If you try not to think of a pink house, you may notice that a pink house comes to mind and this is because you must think about it first in order to choose to no longer think about it.
You need to know exactly how to measure your goal. When do you know you have achieved your goal? For example, if you state that you want to be a good fighter, when will you know that you are a good fighter? Mauricio Rua looked amazing when he fought Lyoto Machida, but he looked like an amateur against Jon Jones. Then again, he looked incredible against Dan Henderson. So was Rua good, then not so good, and then good again? Not at all, Rua was good all the time; it was his performance that changed. Whether you are good or not is not necessarily determined by your performance as performances vary. So make sure that you set your goal in a specific and measurable manner.
Your goal must be realistic and yet ambitious. For example, if you stated that you want to be the UFC champion by next summer and you have not yet had a single fight in MMA, then you might need to change your goal, as chances are that you will be disappointed. At the same time, you must be aiming high. Use your common sense and ask your coaches to give you realistic feedback as to where you are.
You need to put an exact date on it, as this makes it all more clear and tangible. Have you ever heard people saying things like: “I will do it next month,” “I will do it later,” “I will get it soon”? Every month there is a “next month.” There is always a “later” and “soon” is never soon enough. A goal stated well is: It is the 20th of April, 2013, and I have just won the middleweight title at Promotion ABC.
What will happen when you achieve your goal?
What will change in your life? Your circle of friends and family? Be specific, as this process will help you realize whether you are happy with the changes that will occur and whether you really want those changes to happen.
What will happen if you don’t achieve it?
Will you be ready to get up and try again? Or will you give up? You need to have an idea of what you are prepared to do if things don’t go your way from the beginning. Don’t focus on this too long, just take it into account once and then forget about it.
Now go ahead and draw your Goal Vision. This could be a picture, a collage of pictures, or even just a word printed on a piece of paper that reminds you strongly of your goal. It is important that you create something that when you look at it clearly reminds you of your goals and the feelings that you will feel once you achieved it. This could be a picture of your opponent, a picture of the belt, a holiday place where you will go after the fight, or whatever else works for you. Then stick that Goal Vision everywhere you can. The more you see it, the better.
This is the basic structure of goal setting. In our Mind Coaching audio program, “The Warrior in You,” we have included one track that helps you set your goal and make it part of your unconscious awareness using elements of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis, and Time Line Therapy. The audio will help you set your goals quickly and in a very powerful way, but if you do not have the program, this article is a great way to start working on your goals in a more proactive and efficient way.
Head Mind Coach
MMA Mind Power