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A man takes his 3 sons hunting. Upon seeing a bird in a tree, he asks the first son, "what do you see"? The son replies, "the forest". Dad tells him to put his bow away. He asks the second son the same question. The second son replies, "a grouse in that tree". The dad tells him to put his bow away. He asks the third son the same question. This son replies, "I see where the grouses wing comes together at the birds breast". The dad tells him to take the shot.

-Hunting Parable

The amount of focus we give directly effects the outcome. The phrase "Aim small, miss small, " can refer to anything that we are trying to achieve including weight loss, strength training, school and work. Setting forth S.M.A.R.T. goals and putting forth the action to accomplish them is not always an easy task. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound, (S.M.A.R.T.) is the template for goal setting.

When laying out a plan to accomplish a goal we have to first establish a specific goal. This goal can be a target weight, a good grade in school, or running a half marathon in a certain amount of time. The more specific we make that goal the easier it is for us to miss the mark but, aiming at that specific goal and missing by a couple of ounces instead of 10 pounds is a huge difference.

The focus that is required to hit a specific mark helps us to stay on task. When shooting a bow the archer can aim at the whole target. This is the way a beginner might practice. As the archer progresses their skills they start being able to aim at smaller targets from a longer distance. Changing the way you live your life is very similar. At first a goal might be as simple as doing 2 workouts a week or walking around the neighborhood 3 nights this week. As you meet these goals you are building up your self efficacy and are able to mentally support a more focused goal. When we focus on weight loss our goal might be losing 1 - 2 pounds a week for 15 weeks. As we get closer to the goal we can make it more focused by creating nutrition and workout goals.

I took up archery as a hobby a few years ago. It has become something that is relaxing and restorative for me. It allows me to work on mental focus and clear my head. When I am shooting my bow I can't allow my brain to wander. I have to focus on the task ahead of me and the smaller the target that I am shooting at forces me to be that much more focused. Goals in life need to be treated similar especially if you feel passionately about achieving them, which you should. When working toward that goal, you have to give it all of your attention and stay on task.

Always learning,

Justin Martin

Justin Martin is the owner and head instructor of Harvest Martial Arts in Franklin, TN. He is also a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise.

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