Can karate help me to get up early? And other tales from the dojo…
It takes me a long time to stick to a new habit, and even when I am consistent, a slight change in my schedule or routine can easily set me back and push me entirely off course. Over the years I’ve learned to go easy on myself, I’ve learned that everyday is a new beginning and I am constantly reminding myself that there is no shame in falling off track. Whether I’m trying to drink more water, cut down on late night snacking (I’m known as the chip monster in our household) or trying to wake up 30 minutes earlier, I have to admit that I have a hard time maintaining consistency with my habits.
Except when it comes to the dojo...I’ve been coming to the dojo 3 times a week since 2014 (not including my time off with a back injury). That’s a 5 year track record!
As a way to improve my personal habits track record, I recently reflected on what motivates me to get to the dojo on time, three times per week. Here is what I came up with:
In my head, I’ve already envisioned myself taking the black belt test, passing the tests, attending the graduation ceremony with family and I’ve felt that feeling of accomplishment and pride. I’ve set a date and I’m working on turning this vision into reality. I know the only way to achieve this milestone is by going to the dojo consistently. Likewise every journey is made up of steps and each time I get to the dojo I am one step closer.
I absolutely love it. I love the feeling of stepping into (actually bowing into) the dojo floor and focusing on improving my stances, punching through the pad and working on my katas. For the most part I am thoroughly enjoying the journey. Of course I have days where I feel unmotivated or where I need encouragement to get me out of the house. Whenever I feel sluggish about going to the dojo, I ask my kids if I should go. Ninety nine times out of one hundred they respond, “Go mom, just like you make us go to the dojo, you need to get to the dojo.” There are also a handful of fellow dojo karate moms that I can text for encouragement. Finally, I try to remember the feeling that I have after class, knowing that after “surviving” (yes, that’s the way I feel after some classes) class, I will feel stronger, healthier and satisfied that I can check this off my list for the day.
Don’t compare yourself to others. I recognize that this is my personal journey. This mindset is also key to getting to the dojo on time. If I compared myself to others, I would have quit a long time ago. I have friends that started at the same time as me who are now working towards their second degree black belt, and many who started a few years after me, who are now black belts. Everyone’s pathway is different, everyone’s abilities are different and everyone’s situations are different. This understanding is critical and helps me to stay focused on my goals, remain confident in my abilities and most importantly, it helps me to stay motivated despite detours or setbacks.
So now the question is, how can I use this mindset and motivations in other areas of my life?
Create a vision for yourself and really live it and feel it. I recently created a vision board to inspire me and remind me of my bigger goals, to helps me see and feel a few steps ahead. board to inspire me and remind me of my bigger goals, to helps me see and feel a few steps ahead.
Focus on your passion and your “why” and use these as motivational drivers. Can you name the specific parts of the journey that you love? How can you add in more moments of joy and to your day? Do you have a support team that can lift you up when fear or doubt sets in?
Be patient with yourself and give yourself permission to falter/fail. Accept that it is not going to be a linear and smooth process (that would be boring) and give yourself credit for your trying. Above all, keep moving forward and trying new approaches.
To answer my own question, yes, I think karate can help me to wake up earlier. So I’m trying this again, starting with creating a night and morning routine. If you feel like starting a new habit, hope my story inspires you to start today.