Character Chats

Goal-Setting and Initiative

Initiative and Goals

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio, a special ed teacher for 15 years, and I have two master’s degrees in education and together we’ve developed this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students who are three and four, and our oldest student who’s 85.

And this month we are talking about showing initiative, seeing what needs to be done and just doing it without being told. We started the month defining what initiative was, and then last week we talked about things that stop us from showing initiative, from finishing the tasks that we are trying to do, things like distraction and waiting for somebody else to do it for us or procrastinating. And this week we’re talking about initiative and our goals, right?

So we talk a lot about goal setting here at the studio, setting short-term goals, long-term goals, what are you trying to achieve, those types of things, right? We really believe that setting goals helps you do better in the long run. And the same is true with initiative. So let’s take one of the examples that we’ve talked about in the last couple of weeks. We need to clean our rooms or we need to clean our house. ‘.

What’s our goal? Are we setting a timer and we’re getting as much done as we can in 5 or 10 minutes? Is that our goal? Are we going to just do the kitchen counter? Is that our goal? Are we going to go around and pick up all of the books that are laying around outside of where they need to be? Specific, so when we’re trying to set that goal or when we are setting that goal to show our initiative, to be like, okay, what is it that I want to accomplish today? What do I see that needs to get done and I’m going to do it. You need to be specific. That’s the first part about setting that goal.

So I gave some very specific examples, counters or books or all of the toys or all of the laundry, right? What’s our goal? What are we specifically working on. Measuring it. How are we going to know when it’s done? Will it be shiny and sparkly, or will it be smelling lemon fresh? If that is the cleaner that you use. Will everything be in its place? Will the laundry be folded and put away and not just sitting in the dryer? Some people choose if it’s dried, it’s done. Some people choose if it’s away, it’s done. How do you measure that? And then it’s a matter of time like, am I blocking out this hour? Am I blocking out 10 minutes? How long do you think it will take for you to complete the tasks that you put in front of you?

Now, when we were talking about it from the standpoint of homework, schoolwork, group projects for our double-digit students, college aid students, that kind of thing. What are we talking about there? Specifically, what’s your goal? Well, obviously it’s to complete the project. Measuring it. Well, the goal is to get an A. The goal is to have this piece done, however that looks like for the given project in front of you. Time, are you going to be meeting one giant Saturday afternoon and getting it all finished? Are you going to meet for an hour, break it up into chunks, and then come back together and then put it together later? What does the time commitment look like that way? And making sure that as you’re putting this together, what you have chosen to do, what you have chosen to show initiative on where you have chosen to set your goals, it needs to be attainable and it needs to be relatable or reliable, right?

So for example, there is no way that you can get the laundry done in five minutes because the laundry, the washing machine does not get finished in five minutes. So that’s not necessarily an attainable idea. You could clean off your entire countertop. I don’t know what it looks like, right? So making sure that it’s an attainable goal, a group project for school or for work that’s going to take a multitude of hours and a whole bunch of research is not going to be something that you can do in an hour.

Making sure that what you are putting along the way is something that can be attained, is something that makes sense and is logical for what you are working towards and making sure that everything fits together. So if you’re showing initiative and you are looking at your goal of getting all of the, I’m stuck on laundry, apparently it’s laundry day here for me, if you’re looking at getting that all finished, but then you decide that you’re going to go and put all the books away and the toys away, well those things aren’t relatable.

We have to maintain our focus. We have to maintain our concentration to meet that goal, to take that initiative and finish that goal. Sometimes our goals are shorter termed and it can be done in one day, sometimes they’re longer term. And we need to maintain our focus throughout the whole process. However, when we’re showing initiative, when we’re seeing what needs to be done and just doing it might involve a little goal setting to help us stay motivated. It might involve some goal setting to help us stay focused and to keep our concentration. And that is a good way to make sure that as we have chosen to show initiative and work on something, we see it through all the way to the end.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here