Character Chats

What Helps Us Persevere?

What keeps us going?

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character.

And this month we’re talking about perseverance. When the work gets tough, I don’t give up.

I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education and taken what I know and developed a curriculum that best meets the needs of our youngest students, up to our oldest adult students.

Smart Goals

And when we’re talking about what keeps us going with perseverance, we’re talking about goal setting.

But, we need to remember two acronyms when it comes to goal setting. SMART, a Specific goal that’s Measurable and Attainable and Reasonable and Time bound, something that we can accomplish within a reasonable amount of time. The SMART goal.

The kids are being taught that when they’re really young, first, second grade. Adults, we put it into ideas of what we think we could accomplish within a day, within a week, within a month, within a couple years.

Sometimes we’re even talking about it from the standpoint of what would we like to accomplish by the time we get to retirement. But that’s what we’re talking about.

Defining S.P.A.C.E

But the other thing I want to have you guys think about is the fact that we need to give our goals some space.

Now, what does that mean? Here’s what it means. Who’s your support? Who’s your support as you’re going through the goals? As you’re achieving what it is you’re setting out for, who’s going to clap for you? Who’s going to show up at the graduation party? Who’s going to give a high five? Who is the first person you would pick up the phone and call to share that you have achieved that goal?

That’s your Supporter. That is the S in SPACE.


The Purpose, what’s the purpose of your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? What is it that you’re hoping to achieve?

If it has purpose, it has meaning to you and if it has meaning to you, that supporter is going to be very enthusiastic on your behalf. So we want to make sure that our goal has purpose.

I, personally, would not have a goal to be an astronaut because I have no interest in going in space.

That goal would have no purpose for me, but there are a lot of people out there that do have that idea because it does suit one of their purposes, one of their ideas.

So what’s the purpose of the goal?


What Actions are you taking now?

That’s where the SMART goal comes in. It gives you the actions of what you need to do to get there. It gives you the idea of where you need to go to get there. It gives you that reliability, that at attainability.

And so, as you’re setting a goal…

Let’s take a karate goal, jump spinning crescent kick. Well, you’re going to have to take some actions.

You’re going to have to figure out how high you can jump. You’re going to have to practice jumping and turning. You’re going to have to practice the kick itself. You’re going to have to walk through it a couple of times, and then you’re going to have to try to put all of the pieces together, all at once.

And your supporter’s going to be there. Maybe they laugh if you fall down, but it’s in good nature because they are your supporter and you know it.

It has purpose because it’s something you want to learn, because it’s something you want to do for your next belt test or something like that. And you know the actions you need to take to achieve that particular goal.


Now SPACE, S-P-A-C. C is Care. Why do you care about that particular goal? What is its reason? Why does it matter to you?

It’s different than purpose. Purpose is more logical. Purpose is more, what’s its reason behind that thing for you? What is it going to do for you?

Care is emotional, like why does it matter to you in here? Why is it important for you? Is it something that you’ve wanted to see? Is it something that you’ve wanted to achieve? Did you see a magazine picture of somebody kicking way up to the sky and you want to be able to do that, too? Do you see all of the names on the wall and you want to make sure that yours is added to it? Why do you care?


And then E. What do you need to know, where’s your Expertise? Where do you need to get more expertise?

So when you give your goal some SPACE, you’re gaining the knowledge, the expertise to then speak about that goal, to then speak about what it is that you’ve put in for that work, to then talk in a positive, confident manner.

Because now you’ve gained yourself some knowledge, along with the actual skill that you were putting forth or the actual role that you were working towards or whatever that goal might be.


So as we’re persevering, as we’re working hard, as we are pushing forward, our goals need to be SMART. Absolutely they do.

But they also need to be given some SPACE, looking at our Supporters, our Purpose, our Actions, our Care, and our Expertise along the way.

And then, when the work gets tough, we don’t give up.

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