Monday, September 8, 2014

Fighting Lazy Me

Today's a late post. I couldn't come up with anything yesterday in time update, but I refuse to let a monday pass without a post!

I've spent a good amount of time just blabbering on about what traits make for a good martial artist based on my knowledge of Tang Soo Do, but I haven't really discussed how I have been trying to improve my adherence to those ideas. Talking about something like I know what I'm doing can only really get me so far without trying to put some context behind it.

People like to say that the first step to fixing something is to admit that it needs fixing. In my case, one of the biggest issues I have is maintaining motivation. I can get all gung-ho about a project or an activity and give it a shot, but it tends to only be for maybe a week. This can happen for a bunch of different reasons, like wanting to take a break, getting bored with it, or just simply forgetting, but the outcome is pretty consistent; I don't like to stick with things. Tying it back to the Tenets, I will lose concentration, won't persevere, and lack self control. This isn't to say I'm incapable of such things. If I couldn't apply them at all, I'd never have tried to do anything in the first place. But over time, my diligence and discipline slip. For evidence, see my post count for July. 

This isn't an uncommon problem. In fact, I'd say it's exceptionally human for such a habit to persist. We love comfort. When given the option most of us choose the path of least resistance. Running is hard. Eating healthy is a pain. I don't feel like writing today. I would rather go play video games or watch TV. It's so much easier not to do things that it is to get off my butt and go work at something. 

To become a better martial artist in all things and to apply what I learned from martial arts to my life, I need to face this flaw and get myself under control. Will power is a wonderful thing, and learning to use it is important. That said, the question is obviously 'how?'

Like I said, the first step is awareness. If you are attentive to the fact that you are lazy, or are easily distracted by certain things, you can catch yourself when you are about to slip. Ignorance, either willful or passive, will guarantee that you'll lose your focus. 

The next step is to take a page out of the Art of War (bringing it aaaaaaall into context, booya!). Lay your plans carefully, and take your knowledge of your own tendencies into account. In this instance, I am my own enemy, and to win I have to best myself. In the battle between lazy me and active me, I need to structure the battle so that I have the fewest opportunities to be lazy. Take working out as an example. I know that, if I make it home from work and sit at the computer, I'm going to be done for the day. Video games and the internet will suck away my will to move and the day will be wasted. However, I pass the gym every day on the way to and from work. I'm already up and about, and I want to workout, so I bring gym clothes with me to work and go to the gym on the way home. It's far easier when I'm already there than once I'm in my comfy chair in front of that welcoming screen. If you recall the 5 heads from the Art of War, this strategy covers the majority of the bases. I know that working out is the right thing to do. I give active me the advantages of the environment and the time of day. I position the moment of choice when active me, as the commander, has more power than lazy me, and I provide active me the proper supplies at the right moment to be better prepared than lazy me. Any day I bring my gym clothes with me is a day I make it to the gym, and any day I presume I will change at home and then go is a day I am likely to skip.

While this has worked well for exercising, it isn't always easy to properly structure your plan. I'm still working on something that will work for my writing schedule. As you may have notice with this late update, I don't always have a post prepared in advanced. The last two weeks of posts were, in fact, written mostly in one sitting. When the motivation strike, I can get much done, but I have yet to find a way to ensure I have a consistent amount of that motivation. I have tried cutting distractions from my life, like certain video games and TV, but they eventually crawl back into my life. Additionally, I do enjoy them, so there is significant motivation to keep the distractions around.  

I think I'll end with this: people, myself included, are all too quick to to tell you how to do something. Everyone has a tip, a suggestion, or a trick to getting ahead or getting yourself in gear. There are two important things to remember when listening to anyone's advice. The first, that they are suggesting it for a reason, and second, that you need to understand that reason before you decide to heed their advice or ignore it. I find wisdom in what I've learned through my martial arts training that I am able to apply to the rest of my life. I am able to think about my actions and my plans in these terms, and that works for me. That's why I share them. If you're different, if you can't look at yourself in the same context that I look at myself, that's alright. However, wisdom can still be gained from listening. This is the only piece of advice that I will give that I believe you should absolutely follow. Find what works for you, from any source you can. 

"Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own" --Bruce Lee

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