The hardest fight I have in Taekwondo is the battle with myself. In order to make progress and to improve my skills, I have to fight my concept of time and my sense of ‘good practice.’
I want to do everything at once and I want to do it at the perfect time. In the fictional world where I can do this, my practice space is tidy, my work is neatly portioned into appropriate slots, and my family is delightfully engaged in their own wholesome pursuits. And, of course, in this world, I know the exact right thing to practice at this point. My perfect practice self has identified a course of progressive work that starts at the ‘true’ baseline and will bring me forward in a logical fashion. This will lead naturally toward my goal of being a super-fit Taekwondo genius with strength beyond measure.
I can hear you laughing at me from here. It’s okay. Go ahead.
I know I am being ridiculous.
I know there is no perfect practice time and there is no perfect practice plan. I know that something is better than nothing. I know that any work will bring me closer to being a 3rd degree black belt.
Yet, I get tangled up in this intellectual exercise of perfect practice at the perfect time. It ensnares me so completely that I have trouble doing anything at all.
This doesn’t just happen to me with exercise, of course. I have the same trouble with all kinds of things. The familiarity of the feeling has indeed bred contempt but it still crops up all the time.
When I make a plan to exercise in the morning, my brain gives me 5 or 6 reasons why it’s really not the best time – it’s better to write first thing, or I should probably focus on getting enough sleep, or, I am not awake enough to have good form, or I might not have time to shower afterward and that will throw off my morning.
When I plan to exercise in the afternoon, the litany goes like this – you don’t want to waste water taking two showers a day so you’ll feel weird all day until you exercise, or you will probably be in the middle of something in the afternoon and you won’t want to stop, or that it will be a hassle to change clothes and put on a sports bra in the middle of the day.
The evening is no better because then my brain says that I am taking away from family time and that if I work too hard, I will have trouble sleeping later.
I would be less annoyed about all of this if I didn’t actually enjoy exercising. No matter what time of day I actually get over myself and start moving, I always like it, but my brain forgets that in the effort of finding the perfect schedule.
After I clear that scheduling hurdle, though, I have to win the battle of the perfect practice. (Yes, I get on my own nerves with this part, too.)
In my post two weeks ago, I identified all of the things that I want to improve as I move toward my next belt test. I want greater strength, I want greater balance, I want to improve my skills, and so on. The trouble is, that I want to do all of those things at once. Any time that I am working on one piece, my brain reminds me that I *should* be working on the others. It refuses to believe that I have to work on one thing at a time.
The problem is not that I want instant results – although, I’ll take them if someone is giving them out. It’s that some part of me refuses to believe that the results will be achieved by doing things one at a time. So, I keep seeking this perfect practice plan that will make it obvious to my brain that I am doing the *right* thing right now and that I am on the road to my goal.
I know better than this, too, of course. I know that I don’t actually need to do everything all at once. I can work on my balance today and my cardio tomorrow and it will all come together in the end, but, yet, I resist getting started. Some part of me fears that I will be ‘wasting time’ on the wrong exercises – and, no, the foolishness of thinking any that exercise could be wasted is not lost on me.
Typing this all out has made me even more aware of how silly all of this is. I am working against my own interests and I need to get over myself and take more action. I have to borrow from the basic tenets of Taekwondo and remind myself to use self-control and perseverance.
So, here’s how I am going to win this battle against myself: I am committing to practicing for at least 30 minutes in the morning for the next seven days. I will design my practice the night before and include a variety of exercises that will help me get stronger and have better balance.
I’m going to give myself the week off from overthinking my exercises and I am just going to enjoy them.
I’ll take this one week at a time for now. I don’t have to solve this all at once.
Here’s to winning this battle!