Over the last week I successfully medalled in my first student trampoline competition. It got me thinking about how exactly progress in a chosen sport, hobby, or any task is made.
Certainly, in my experience of training or striving for a particular goal or achievement, I have had both good and bad days. Something as simple as learning how to handstand has taken years of solid work. Practicing can sometimes be extremely frustrating.
The absolute best advice for dealing with frustration when something doesn’t go the way you want it to, is letting go of expectations. This is the one thing I found helped me most and allowed me to enjoy the process.
Now, I have a tendency to compare myself to others. It happens. Part of that comes from determination and to show the world that I am physically capable of doing x or y. But once you recognise that even the most experienced people had to start somewhere, it takes a whole heap of pressure off of you.
When it comes to that last session, that last set, that last rep, that last thing you did – rather than thinking that it sucked, think about what just happened and what you want to focus on. I like to narrow the focus on just one thing I’d like to get out of every session I go to.
I’ve found that at training, sometimes a particular skill or attempt doesn’t click right away. When that happens, I go into my next session, or next attempt with a clear and open mind. A small note or mental cue goes a very long way. That allowed me to master a skill I had spent 2 years trying to get right.
That is always something I try to follow, because it allows me to continue learning.
And if it gets too much for you on one day, my next piece of advice for you, is to know when to walk away. Call it a day, and come back again another day. If your brain, or your body is too exhausted to continue, or if you pushed yourself, or if you find yourself just not having a good time, that’s the time to finish for the day.
It’s incredibly hard to want to stop doing what you’re doing, especially if you’re keen to push yourself and impress people. A great example of this is strength training, because some people would be very keen to put on as much weight as possible, even if it is physically out of their current capabilities.
But for a physical activity, your body will tell you when it’s time to stop. And the same for a mental activity, your brain will eventually get tired. That’s totally okay. With practice and time, you can increase your physical and mental endurance, and also recognise where your boundaries are.
Progress will never always be linear. You will have up and down days. There might be times where you question yourself about why you’re doing a particular activity.
Remember that you are never alone. Everyone had to start somewhere. So when progress stalls, (because it will), don’t get frustrated, or too worked up. Sometimes, time is your best friend.
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