Sometimes the goal turns out not to be the goal at all, but rather something to focus our aim and to get us moving onward and upward. The goal itself may be the bull’s-eye, but even if we just miss it, we are hitting the overall target.
Many years ago when I first decided I wanted to teach martial arts, I came at the idea from the perspective of teaching health and physical fitness. At that time I was ignorant of the actual consumer demographic for the modern martial arts industry. All I wanted to do was help people become active and fit, and feel great on the outside. I merely set the goal of training for my black belt and learning how to teach.
That was my goal; that was my target. I now had something at which to aim. But as I progressed along and eventually began teaching, I discovered something completely different about the martial arts industry and the customer. It was not just a place for people to become fit and healthy. That is a part of what martial arts is as a consumer product, true. However, I learned that martial arts as it is taught in modern times appeared to be geared more toward child development and helping families with parenting and behavioral issues. The goal I was seeking through the path I was taking could not be reached.
Still, I discovered that I found tremendous joy and satisfaction teaching martial arts to young children. There was considerable benefit to me and what I needed to “feel” successful. In fact, looking back on how things transpired, I am happier with this outcome to my attempt to reach the goal than the original goal that was set. But I would have never reached this point if I had not at least set a goal and used it as something at which to aim.
From a martial arts “training” perspective, it is also worth discussing this concept. Often in my school I observe the students as they attempt certain hand strikes and kicking techniques. On occasion they struggle with the correct motion of a strike or the precise targeting of a technique. The hand strikes are not powerful or the kicks are not high. I might urge them to kick higher or punch harder; however, this does not often work. But then I will bring out a striking pad or one of the wave blasters to give the student an actual target to focus upon. The simple practice of giving the student something physical to focus their strikes invariably resolves the problem they are having with the strike or technique. All it took was a very real goal placed in front of them upon which to aim. The strikes still may not be perfect, but at least now the student is much closer to doing the strike correctly.
This is true in all aspects of our lives. Set a goal, put a target out in front of you, and even if you miss, at least now you have something at which to aim.