This is it. 2023 is going to be your year! But if you’re going to do anything but spin your wheels, you’ll need to take a different approach than you have in the past.

Here’s an activity that can help you get the results you really want.

Take a look at what you normally do in a day—your activities and your workload. This includes your martial arts and other training. The first part of this activity: you’re going to figure out which of those activities are “difficult-easy.” By this I mean those activities that are challenging, or stressful, or frustrating in some way, but are easy in that they are familiar. We are used to doing them, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to engage in these activities. They become an “easy” pattern that we’ve fallen into, despite creating a lot of discomfort in our lives.

Some examples of activities that are difficult-easy are the following:

  • Overscheduling our day or our week and feeling rushed as a result.
  • Feeling pulled in various directions in our lives. For instance, wanting more time for martial arts training, but feeling pulled by other obligations.
  • Responding to mistakes with embarrassment or anger or feeling stupid. This is a knee-jerk reaction that creates stress for us, but has become a familiar pattern.
  • Punishing ourselves with brutal workouts, and ignoring our aches and pains or need for a break. We may do this to “balance out” overeating the day before, for instance.
  • Escape behaviours, such as drinking or drug use, online shopping, or social media scrolling. Despite having negative consequences when they become habitual, these activities are easy to engage in.

These activities that are difficult-easy: they keep us stuck. And if you look over your daily and weekly activities, you might discover that there’s a lot of this going on. We engage in these things because they’re familiar. It’s what we know. We’ve done this stuff so often that it is easy. It’s what we do. But all of this stuff is hard on is, and wastes an enormous amount of our time and energy and leaves us feeling drained and stuck. They take a lot out of us, and they don’t give anything back in return.

Difficult-easy tasks are not where it’s at. If we want to stop spinning our wheels and start moving forward, we need to focus on the other category of activities: “difficult-difficult.” These activities are equally difficult, stressful, or challenging as the first category. They might create a lot of discomfort in our lives. They might even terrify us. But they also create growth in our lives. So they challenge us—as does the first category of activities—but they also help us move forward towards self-improvement.

Some examples of activities that are difficult-difficult are the following:

  • Following a plan consistently over the long-term. (Quitting, on the other hand, would be difficult-easy.) For instance, doing your martial arts training consistently whether you feel like it or not, and when you have no good excuse for not doing so (such as illness or injury).
  • Competing in martial arts tournaments even though they scare you.
  • Sparring if you’ve never sparred before.
  • Having a growth mindset, i.e. being comfortable with making mistakes and potentially looking stupid. For instance, performing a new kata in competition, instead of always performing that same kata that always gets you that gold medal.
  • Taking recovery days. This is hard for me, to take days off even when I need it. Difficult-easy for me is to train regularly no matter what; difficult-difficult for me is to take days off in order to recover faster and improve my performance. For some people it might be the opposite: maybe they take too many days off, and need a bit of a push to work harder or get back to training sooner after an injury or illness. For these people, then, their difficult-easy is taking a lot of recovery and rest days; and their difficult-difficult might be training harder or more frequently.

Keep in mind while you do this activity that this is going to look different for everyone. Your difficult-easy and difficult-difficult are not necessarily going to be the same as mine. So try not to compare your results to those of anyone else.

The point of this is to look at your regular activities, and figure out how you can now make that shift away from all those difficult-easy activities that drain you and overwhelm you and keep you feeling stuck, and towards doing more of those things that are difficult-difficult, so that you can start to move forward and make some real progress in your life.

This will take some time to figure out. Don’t rush it. But this is important if you want to encourage growth in your life. Both of these categories are potentially stressful and create discomfort in our lives, so isn’t it better to make more time for the things that actually create value? Rather than wasting our time on the things that are familiar but ultimately useless to us?

If you’re struggling with figuring out your difficult-difficult, ask yourself the following questions, which can help give you some clues:

  • What are things that scare you or that you usually avoid?
  • What makes you feel uncomfortable but could potentially change your life for the better?
  • How do you normally approach problems, and what is the opposite of that?

To summarize, first figure out your difficult-easy. And then figure out your difficult-difficult. And once you’ve done that, come up with some 5-minute actions for those difficult-difficult activities. What’s a small 5-minute action that is difficult-difficult that you can do today in order to move forward in your life?

Doing this activity can help you figure out what really matters, will keep your expectations far more realistic, and can help you get started today to improve your performance in life and martial arts.

Episode 15

Show Notes for Episode 15

Are you ready to get results in 2023? Here’s an activity that can help you stop spinning your wheels and start moving forward towards greater levels of personal growth and self-improvement.

Thank you for joining me on my martial arts journey, and in the exploration of all the ways we can perform better in life and martial arts.

You can also find me on YouTube:

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Thank you for listening! Together let’s build a community of strong, healthy, awesome martial artists.

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Try out this activity now and come up with some 5-minute actions for yourself. All the best on your journey!

Recommended Resources

You’re reading Want to Stop “Spinning Your Wheels” in Life & Martial Arts? by Sabrina Bliem, originally posted on The Karate Shrimp. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow The Karate Shrimp on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!