Focus on Disaster: How to Use Impending Doom to Set Training Goals.

Functional training is all the rage but how often do we actually question whether our training is, in fact, functional?

Not “Functional™” but functional.

Could you lift a log, climb a rope, throw a punch, carry a wounded person or wrestle an assailant to the ground if you needed to do those things in a life or death situation?

Chances are you won’t have to. If such an event arises, however, at that point it is far too late to wish you trained more. It’s too late to wonder what all those skipped training sessions would add up to. There is no perfect self, you are who you are when circumstances call you to act. If I told you in 6 months you would need to fight for your life, you would probably train harder right now.

Here’s a game you can try to integrate into your training that creates that sense of time urgency:

First off, right now, rank your ability in your discipline from 1-10, with 10 being the highest (Whether this is fitness or martial arts, put a number on it, and try to be honest). Bear in mind, in a life or death situation, this is the number that right now you have to work with, is it enough?

Say you are a six. Now write down (with consideration to your available time, focus on what is possible without quitting your job and neglecting your dog):

How would I get to 7 if I only had 6 months to train before a disaster? 
How would I get to 7 if I only had a month to train?

How would I get to 7 if I only had a week to train?

Now write down all the barriers that are preventing you from getting to that 7 within those time frames. Every single negative thought you had while writing the answers down above put it on the page.

Guess what? The likelihood is you now have the bare bones of a training outline for the next 6 months, and you know what barriers will prevent you from achieving that. Don’t know how to get to that next level? Now you have a much better idea of what to ask for professional, qualified help with and what barriers you will encounter.

Can’t get to 7 in six months? Aim for 6.5.  The goal is to envision what you would do if you were given a tight schedule to work with and use that to inform your training plan. Having the rest of your life to get good at something is only useful if you actually use that time. 

When I sit down with people in coaching sessions and they evaluate some aspect of their life as a six, and I ask them “Gun to your head; if you had one week to get to 7, what would you start doing today?” nearly everyone has an answer, and I’ll bet you do too.

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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