• Marcus Kowal

The Year of 2020 and goal setting




A few days ago marked the last day of the craziest year in modern history. The world was paralysed by the pandemic and we’ve seen the best and worst of humanity. The world has seen a lot of anger, finger-pointing and hatred. Mostly because that is what sells in the media. We’ve seen heartache among all the lives lost to COVID and we all have experienced the hurt of not being able to visit and hug many of our loved ones. But we have also seen so many amazing things, such as the bravery of frontline workers, risking their own lives to save others; the compassion of people helping others physically, mentally, financially; the innovation among humans to be able to get by, to survive. Shit, the world came up with not one but THREE vaccines in only nine months! That has never been done in human history!


It’s going to be easy to remember all the negatives of 2020 but I think it’s much more important of an exercise to come up with a list of at least 12 things, one per month, that happened during 2020.


As a small business owner in a state that has been shut down for 9 months with two small kids in a country that doesn’t have any of the social support that Scandinavian countries have, I promise you that it is very easy to fill a book with difficulties and negativity. Yet, I feel like 2020 also offered a lot of opportunity for growth. Forced growth, sure, but growth nonetheless. For us, it meant a lot of hard decisions to be made, pivoting and trying to navigate an unknown. Yesterday, we went over our goals that we had set for 2020, both as a team as well as individual goals. All in all, I hit 67% of my goals. Two thirds of the goals set forth, I was still able to accomplish and I don’t think it’s a secret that the other 33% were mostly business goals for someone involved in the fitness and martial arts industry.


“So if you could only hit two thirds of your goals and 2021 is basically a dive into the unknown, what’s the point of setting goals?!”

I can see why some would look at it that way but there’s so very many reasons why goal setting isn’t just important but even more important this year and I’ll give you some:

  • Had I not set goals in the beginning of last year, I wouldn’t have had anything to look back at and most likely, the only thing I’d focus on would be some vague ideas of what “success” would look like, most likely connected with business. Since that didn’t go as planned, it would certainly have felt like a wash of a year. Yes, some might feel that 67% isn’t great but as a self employed individual living in California, I can tell you that 67% feels like a HUGE win!

  • When I realised that some of the goals weren't attainable, I set new goals. For example, we launched our Systems Training Center app, which allows people to train from home and basically have a personal trainer in their pocket. We also re-launched YourKravMaga.com, which allows people to learn self defense from home, anywhere in the world.

  • I made sure I didn’t only hit but surpassed many of the other goals. In other words, I really focused on the things I could be in control of.


As our feeling of “being in control” decreases, it’s even more important to take charge of the things that we can control, not only for the sake of being more productive overall but also for our mental sanity. To give you an example, a friend of mine called me in spring sometime. While we were talking, I had mentioned that I had been up since 5:30 am. “Why do you have to wake up at 5.30 am if you have nowhere to go; your business is shut down anyways!” my friend jokingly said. Exactly for that reason, I answered. Because it is so easy to just turn off the alarm and not do anything, I have to get up at 05:30, because I have to stay disciplined. Now more than ever!


Here are some examples of what I did:


  • I had set 1,000 K (625 miles) as a goal to run. I had also decided to run every single day of 2020 and I was on good track to do so, when I broke my foot on day 249. I ran a marathon on the broken foot on day 250 and tried to run 251 but realised it wasn’t a great idea (some would go so far as to call me smart). I had to take two months off but I still managed to run 1,372 KM (856 miles).

  • My goal was to read 12 books. Instead, I read 18 books. Not a single one of those books was fiction and thus, I focused much more on further educating myself.

  • I started learning a few new skill sets, both professionally as well as personally, in order to improve my coaching (in my opinion, you can’t be a great coach if you don’t constantly evolve yourself).


I also had to readjust certain goals. Clearly, we had to adjust certain financial and professional goals but also some of my personal ones. For example, one of my goals was to be able to hold a 1 minute handstand. I didn’t think it would be that difficult for me to stand/walk on my hands for a minute but I soon found out that fighters tend to be weak in overhead movements and positions. Thus, it wasn’t a realistic goal for me to be able to complete in a year and I’ve had to readjust it and yes, you guessed it right, it’s on this year’s list of goals. That’s the beauty with goals; they can always be adjusted but I also think it’s one of people’s biggest issues; they are scared to put a goal in writing, because now it’s “set in stone” and now they are concerned that they’ve committed to something they might not be able to deliver on.



The real problem


Often when I start discussing the goal setting with clients, it’s met with various degrees of resistance. “I’m not 100% sure that is going to be possible”; “I won’t know if that is realistic until X, Y and Z; and the list goes on and on.


You’re right, you don’t know what the future holds, that is definitely something 2020 taught us. However, that is not the root of the problem. If you know that goals can be adjusted, changed and modified, what is the issue?


The surface-issue is that people don’t like being held accountable but the issue runs deeper than that. The truth is, most people have fear of failure and are scared to commit, in case they don’t complete or are capable of doing what they have said they’ll do. However, it misses the whole purpose of goal setting: The purpose of goal setting is to at time fail; so that you find your limit, push yourself and continue to analyse and re-assess, until you get to where you want to be! In fact, there are going to be many occasions where you get to a long term goal and you realise that it’s not where you want to be anymore and thus, you create a never-ending quest for growth, improvement and self-bettering.



Goals & Accountability 2021


So, here’s some of my accountability! For 2021, I have many goals but here’s a few:

  • Run 1,000 miles.

  • Do the splits again.

  • Run the Backbone Trail (an Ultra Marathon of 68.8 miles or 110 Km) on February 27th. for Liam’s Life Foundation.

  • Say no more!

  • Sleep more!


What are your New Year Resolutions?


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