Beyond the Mat Lesson Five:
It Takes Daily Commitment
(Constant And Never-Ending Improvement)
This topic is certainly timed well. Checklisting ended two weeks ago, and Tres warned us that these next three months will be the most difficult part of the black belt test. Looking back at the unceasing daily grind of technique checks from the last three months, it was initially difficult to believe. But the difficulty lies less in the actual training, and more in your mental approach without the structure of daily progress checks.
So how do you maintain that same level of day-to-day improvement, let alone ramp it up to the next level, when you’re only approaching the halfway mark, and you find yourself without all that external accountability?
I think I mentioned in past journal entries that this has always been a struggle for me. Looking at my conditioning log for the past two weeks, I’m pretty mad at myself, actually. I’m so thankful that Run Club started again, because it’s a social commitment that gets my ass into running shoes and onto the track. It’s not that I dislike training (although I do joke that Run Club is the most fun when it’s over) — it’s just that it’s so very difficult to beat inertia with pure willpower.
To be completely honest, the primary reasons I’ve attended classes this week have been because I know Tres expects me to be there and will notice if I’m not; to avoid letting my partner, Suzi, down; and to make sure I keep logging at least seven classes per week in my attendance log. Of course, every time I go I’m glad that I did! But sometimes it feels as though showing up requires the most intent — like how a space shuttle takes 16 million horsepower to launch, but only a minute fraction of that amount of power to stay in orbit.
Our Beyond the Mat lesson suggests a few ways to constantly remind yourself of your end goals, from writing them down every day, to sticking a post-it on your bathroom mirror as a reminder, to detailed visualizations. I’m going to try the post-it note approach on my monitor at my desk. I wrote “end game.”
I might go into more detail about this in a later post, but as a short summary, I mean that my candidate belt is the last obstacle between me and the good part of the martial arts program. If you’re an MMO player, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now, because that’s what gamers call it when you reach the maximum character level in an online game. You don’t “beat” the online game when you hit max level and then just quit… it’s not the end of the game! For serious players, that’s when the real game starts, when previously unreachable challenges open up, when you can go from having a maxed-out character level to having a maxed-out character.
I think I’m also going to try and recruit some people to do my weekly training with me… just so I don’t have to rely on willpower and post-it note inspiration. Although, seeing that post-it on my monitor right now has me itching to get some work done so I can do pushups on my lunch break.