There’s a secret to getting yourself to push through difficult situations and before you learn how, you’re going to need to know why.
“What have I gotten myself into?” I thought one day after a particularly lackluster day of training in preparation for my Blackbelt test. I mean, i’m doing all the things i’m supposed to be doing, I’m just not making any progress.
I felt like I was hitting a wall. I was pushing the overall volume of work to the limit. The test is 72 hours long, so I knew I would be facing really low points and times when I would need to push through when all I would want to do is quit and go home. I couldn’t seem to get my mind there. The turning-point for me was when I let myself down by “quitting” during a 12k race that I using as a “check-in” point to see how my training was progressing. I was starting to get really bummed out.
I needed to find my set-point…
I needed to revisit why I was doing all this…
After that race I went back to the drawing board. I reset my training and got back to the basics. I also took one afternoon and wrote down “why” I was doing this. It was an exercise that I had read about a year earlier in the book The Way of the SEAL, by Mark Divine. It really helped me get things right in my mind. In it he asked me to sit quietly, practice my breathing, and think about the reasons why I was doing what I was doing. Then I was to write down a sort of “mission statement” about the reasons why I was doing what I was doing.
This was to become my “why”:
I will prove to my family that I will do what I say I will do.
I will not give up and leave my training (& testing) partner on his own.
I will NEVER quit. I will FINISH what I start.
My “why” was set. I worked to keep this at the forefront of my mind as I went through the next few months of training. It started off taking real effort to focus on it, but as time passed it got easier and I found myself going to it more and more often.
As I kept this “mantra” top-of-mind, things got easier. Well, not necessarily physically easier, but mentally for sure. I also felt as though I could call upon deep reserves of energy and strength when I needed it. I began to train with a smile on my face and started to find the good in what I was doing.
I was now suffering for a reason. 🙂
During the Blackbelt test there were some dark times for sure. One point I remember vividly; I couldn’t see any way that I could complete the task I was given and Sensei was saying that if it didn’t get done by the time he said, to leave the Dojo… Thoughts of quitting, of giving up, started to creep in, but I went to my “why” immediately and thoughts of finishing the task took over. I was going to get this done, no matter what, I was doing this for more than just me now.
I know for a fact that if I had not determined why I was doing what I was doing that I would not have made it through that test.
There were also times that I was filled with fear. Like that first moment when I stepped out on the Dojo floor in front of 25+ Blackbelts who were there to determine if I passed of failed my test. They all have to unanimously agree that I am worthy before I will be awarded Shodan.It wasn’t for myself alone that I took that first step on the mats.
It was to prove to my family that I will finish what I start and it was for my brother-in-arms who was also walking into this test with me.
My “why” was with me the entire time, I went to it regularly. I know for a fact that if I had not determined why I was doing what I was doing that I would not have made it through that test.
Having a strong set-point and reason for being there fueled me like I could never have imagined before.
Find your set point. Find your why. Lean on it in tough times.
It’ll get you through.