What Happens When the Motivation Wears Off?

How to create good habits and develop the discipline to keep training in Muay Thai

There’s no doubt, motivation is a powerful force, but it will only take you so far.

Maybe you decided to train Muay Thai three days per week for fitness and self-defence purposes. Then, lockdown hit your area, and that knocked you for six. 

But there’s always home training, right? Be honest. How long did you manage to keep that up?

You might think your problem is motivation. This is a common mistake.

If you still want to get fit and learn self-defence, you still know what you want to do and why you want to do it.

Lack of Motivation Isn’t the Problem

The real problem with motivation is that it relies too heavily on your mental state. And, like your emotions, your mental state can ebb and flow like the ocean tides.

The real engine of improvement is not motivation. It’s habit. 

Habit will drive you to places inaccessible to mere motivation. Habit is motivation automated and on steroids.

To get your Muay Thai training back on track, start by building powerful habits. 

Here’s how to do just that.

  1. Start Small

Walls are built one brick at a time. The harsh truth of substantial transformation is that if you try to do too much at once, you’ll set yourself up for defeat. 

Minor changes are easier to automate, and they compound over time. From a cold start, get to class once a week and build from there.

  1. Stack Your Habits

One of the most effective ways to create a new habit is to tie it to an existing one. This helps reduce the friction and resistance that works against you.

Think of the shape of your existing day. When do you get up? Commute? Eat? Identify the shape of your day and slide your new habit into a suitable space in that pattern.

Tethering your new habit to an established one is a powerful way to anchor it quickly into your day.

  1. Choose the Middle Way

Buddhists teach the avoidance of extremes in self-indulgence and self-denial. But, you don’t have to be a devotee of the Buddha to learn something useful here.

There’s a viable balance to be found somewhere between degenerating into a Tim Tam-munching couch potato and evolving into a high-octane clone of Jocko Willink.

Choosing the middle path ensures you keep moving forward on your journey at a sustainable pace that also gives you the time to enjoy all that life has to offer.

Build Habits to Avoid Decision Fatigue

The real power of habit lies in that it frees us from the energy-sapping decision-making process. 

Habit helps remove the resistance that waits to ambush us on our way to achieving our goals.

If motivation provides your why; let habit provide your how.

How to Stay Resilient During Lockdown

Resilience is a key determinant of survival. 

Like so many virtues, resilience is as much a skill as it is a trait. During lockdown, not only can you maintain your reserves of resilience, you can build upon them too.

Here’s how!

1. Cultivate Positive Relationships

No man is an island, entire of itself.”

John Donne

Solitary confinement is frequently considered a cruel form of punishment for good reason. Even the most introverted among us need to maintain relationships with others.

It’s no surprise the recent spate of lockdowns has landed a heavy blow to public mental health.

Luckily, it is still possible to maintain healthy relationships and build upon them and forge new ones, especially with the wealth of technological tools at our fingertips.

This is unchartered territory for many of us. Take the initiative and check in with friends and family members. Join online interest groups. Texts, email, and phone and video calls are all great ways to keep in touch. 

Let the people in your life know you are still there, and you still care – even if you won’t be able to visit for a while. 

2. Get Your Mind Right

Your relationship with yourself is as important as your relationship with others. Take time out to get your mind straight. 

A positive attitude starts with your thoughts. Avoid watching endless hours of doom and gloom on the news. Find the time to meditate – there are a ton of available apps to assist.

Breathing exercises are another great way to calm your central nervous system. Breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 6 seconds to slow your breathing rate to six breaths per minute. Repeat this for five minutes per day.

3. Stay Strong

I get it. The gyms are closed, and even the public park may be out of bounds, but that’s no reason to let all your muscles atrophy. 

It’s never been easier to work out at home. You don’t even need specialist equipment. Bodyweight workouts are all the rage for good reason.

Shadowboxing, stretching, pushups, and planks are also great ways to keep your body strong during lockdown. 

You’ll find a wealth of useful resources online to help you put together your own tailored programme. Maybe your lack of flexibility has been holding you back? Check out a yoga channel on YouTube. 

When the gyms open again, you’ll be high-kicking like Peter Aerts in his prime!

4. Rest Up

Look for the silver lining. In a lockdown, you’ll likely have fewer demands on your time – take advantage!

Rest is essential to maintain optimum physical and mental health and preserve your resilience. Early to bed, early to rise, and you can’t go wrong.

These four elements will provide a shape and predictability to your day to optimise your sense of control during uncertain times. They will help you not only emerge refreshed from these difficult times but ready to get stuck back into life’s fray, all the stronger for the experience.

For more online training content follow me on instagram: @philliplaimuaythai

Summer Bodies Are Built In Winter

As the old saying has it, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither were those lithe and lean figures you see attracting envious gazes on the beach during summer. 

You see, the simple fact of the matter is that lean summer bodies are made in winter.

When the more rotund among us were tucked up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate, mindlessly flicking through a thousand channels of meaningless entertainment, those now lithe and lean beach bodies were being sculpted in the gym.

The Dynamic of Life

For over 40 years, researchers at Stanford University conducted a series of important psychological tests involving hundreds of children. The followed these children as they grew and matured into adulthood.

Among their findings, discovered that one of the most important indicators for success in health, work, and life was the ability to delay gratification.

This ability to defer small pleasure now, for greater pleasure in the future is what marks humans from purely instinct driven animals. 

An underlying dynamic of life is clear – those of us with a highly developed understanding of the value of sacrifice tend to do better in so many important areas of life. Including, building a physique to be proud of.

Build That Beach Body This Winter

Desmond Tutu once said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant – one bite at a time.”

Building a great physique doesn’t occur overnight. But, consistent training in the Martial Arts throughout the winter will soon see that ‘elephant’ begin to disappear – in time for summer

Training in combat sports such as Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu makes demands on not just strength and cardio, but flexibility and endurance too. This type of training helps sculpt an enviable physique possessed of power, speed, and agility.

Learn New Skills While Sculpting That Beach-Bod

It can be hard to stay motivated when the reward seems so far away. You may not be strutting your stuff on the beach for months, it’s cold out, and you have a Netflix marathon loaded up and ready to go.

But getting to the gym to train Martial Arts in the winter makes more sense than many other activities you could be doing. 

It’s indoors for a start! More importantly though, the Martial Arts are skills-based. 

There are no long hours pointlessly pounding the treadmill, or rowing a machine that has never so much as been wet. 

Training in the Martial Arts throughout winter, you’ll develop important skills that could potentially save you, or a loved one, from being victimised some day. 

Not least of all though, the fun to be had in a good spar or roll is hard to match! And knowing you are building a lean body that will be beach-ready by summer is no hardship either.

Get started on building that summer body this winter!

What it’s like to own a Martial Arts academy during Covid-19

2020 was set to be one of the biggest years for Australian Combat Sports Academy. I felt like we had finally settled into our bigger facility after moving over a year ago. The gym was flourishing with all classes near capacity. Our inhouse Novice MMA event “Bushido” was gaining momentum and the fight team was coming off its most successful year of ACSA competition history in 2019. We started off 2020 with some impressive wins on Muay Thai shows and had some big fights lined up for the rest of the year. Then COVID-19 happened….

In the beginning when the new of Covid-19 first broke, most people treated it like a joke and didn’t think it would affect us here in Australia. As the situation started to worsen we were forced to close our doors on the 23rd of March.

Dealing with the uncertainty.
The hardest part about owning a small business during COVID-19 was the uncertainty. The uncertainty of not knowing what’s going on and most importantly what to do. It’s something no one has ever faced before and there was no blue-print to navigate through it. When we first closed our doors I thought it would have only lasted for a month. It dragged on for 3 months. The main problem with uncertainty was that we weren’t able to plan for anything. We had no timeline or way out to even plan a strategy to get out of this. One of our basic human needs is certainty in our lives. It is no wonder anxiety levels hit an all-time high for many during these times.

Adapting and evolving.
Just like with any other business we had to adapt and evolve. It meant stepping up to the plate rather than burying your head and waiting for the storm to pass. I know that if we had just closed for the entirety of the pandemic then we wouldn’t be able to reopen when it was all over. We had to counter every change or restriction put in place. Physical classes were not permitted, so we went online. Small group sessions were permitted, so we went outdoors. Upon reopening we had capacity restrictions, so we had to cap classes. The second wave hit and now we’re back online. It hasn’t been easy constantly adapting but it’s something I knew we had to do to keep the members engaged over these difficult times. It takes 28 days to build or break a habit. If people broke the habit of not training for more than 28 days it’s highly likely they wouldn’t return.

The digital revolution.
When we first started the online classes I honestly had no idea how they would go or if people would even want to do them. It’s something I’d never run before and neither had anyone else! It took a few sessions to get a good format in place. The challenges faced with running online sessions were space and equipment limitations of participants, as well as being able to keep them engaged for the entire session.

Not everyone took to the online classes for various reasons but the reality was that there was no other alternative. If you really want to train then you will find a way and not make excuses. The online classes attracted the people I wanted to work with, serious martial artists who didn’t make excuses to skip training. I channelled all my energy into these sessions and received a lot of positive feedback. The best part about the online classes is that members were able to slow down the techniques to a pace where they could perfect and practise them flawlessly. In a  physical class format, sometimes I find that members would rush techniques without performing them correctly in order to get more of a sweat on, or to not a slow partner or class down. The online classes completely eliminated this. When we were permitted to reopen I noticed that the members who had participated in online classes had better technique than before they went into lockdown.

Lockdown 2.0
We were not even 2 weeks into the physical reopening when we were forced to close again because of the second wave. This was one of the biggest kicks in the teeth I’ve ever felt. Just as we thought we were out of the woods we were back to being closed. After all the hard work that went into reopening and the emotional rollercoaster over the past 3 months it was another new low. The second lockdown has definitely been worse than the first one. The novelty of lockdown one had worn off and people were frustrated and angry. People were living in fear and looking for someone to blame. We had tasted “freedom” for less than two weeks and didn’t want to go back into lockdown. It felt like everyone in Melbourne was forced to pay the price for a few who didn’t play by the rules.

This time around it wasn’t just about running online classes. It was about keeping the morale of members up and things positive. It was about creating some certainty in people’s lives in these uncertain times by running the classes every day. It’s giving people some sense of confidence and control back in their lives, to know that they can still log on at 6pm every evening and participate in an activity they enjoy; martial arts.

The positives from already being in lockdown previously are that I already had the systems in place to take the classes online. I already knew how to run the classes and what did and didn’t work. This time around I feel like the classes are even better and students are getting more effective training out of them.

Biggest lessons learnt.
One of the biggest lessons learnt from this pandemic is to never take anything for granted in life. Be grateful and thankful for what you have. It’s easy to take things for granted when life is going well (I certainly did!). Now I realise how lucky I am to be teaching what I am passionate about (martial arts).

I am lucky to be surrounded by good positive people, a loving family and a supportive girlfriend who has helped me get through this period. During tough times it’s VERY important to surround yourself with the right people. The pandemic has brought the best and worst out of humanity. The right people will be positive and uplift you. They will offer support and be there when you need them. Everyone will have an opinion in these times as to what to do and what not to do. You have to be very selective with who or what you choose to listen to and read.

Final note.
The pandemic doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon. Rather than spending the next few months complaining and being negative have a look at what positives have come out of it. For me:

– It has been a journey of self-discovery
– I have discovered what and who is most important to me in my life
– It has brought the ACSA community even closer because we are all going through it together
– It has made me a better coach

It’s important to stay positive in these times. Everyday you can choose to get bombarded with fear mongering being spread on television and social media. Everything you see or read in the media is designed to be anxiety provoking. Rather than falling into the trap of the downward spiral of negative thoughts, start spending time on yourself and the things you like to do. Spend time with the people you love in life and make the most of it.

Local small businesses in Victoria have been hardest hit recently in the second lockdown. Most academy owners do it out of a passion for sharing martial arts. They don’t have the big budgets like big businesses and many won’t survive the second lockdown. Your coaches don’t have the same business they did 6 months ago so make sure you support your academy in these times to keep martial arts alive.

How to get back into Muay Thai training after isolation

It’s been over a month since all Muay Thai and Martial Arts gyms have been closed. You’ve tried to stick to some sort of routine in these crazy times but have struggled. It’s been freezing cold and your diet has gone out the window because of all the extra snacks and Uber eats you have been eating. You are not alone! It looks like the possibility of gyms reopening is very soon and it’s time to get get back into it. The thought of resuming any sort of training regime seems difficult but you need a plan of attack. Here are some sure fire ways to get you back into training and feeling like yourself again.

1. Start slowly
Depending on how active you have been over the isolation period will dictate how you get back into your training. As a rule of thumb you should only make 10% increases when making a return to training after a lay off. It’s important that you also resume slowly! That means easing your way back into things to avoid injury. If you have been consistent with your online classes eg 2-3 times a week then resuming actual physical classes 2-3 times a week at moderate intensity should be fine. If you have been inactive over the entirety of the iso period then start with 1-2 classes per week. Rather than coming back day 1 and smashing out a 10km run followed by 5 x 5 minute rounds on the pads, stick to a technical skills session.

2. Set a goal and make a plan.
Before returning to training set yourself a goal. Make sure your use the SMART principles: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. A good example would be “Resume Muay Thai training my gym reopens and commit to 2 classes twice a week with a long term goal of grading at the first grading”. Once you’ve set a goal then it’s time to start planning. Write down the sessions you want to attend in your diary and tell your coach or someone. Get them to keep you accountable.

3. Change your mindset to focus on the long term.
Muay Thai training is about long term development and long term goals. It’s about refining your skill over the years and constantly readjusting goals. When you return to training this should be your focus, to get better at it over a long term period. Don’t get too excited just because the gym is reopen and jump in all guns blazing. I’ve seen it so many times over the years when people make a return to training and over do it in the first few weeks and injure themselves and have to take time off again. It then becomes a vicious cycle they fall into for years and never progress.

4. Focus on technique and skills.
It’s more than likely social distancing will be around for a while. Don’t dig yourself into a negative mindset and complain about how you just want to hit pads, spar and clinch. A true Martial Artists sees the opportunity in any situation and are resourceful with the resources they have. The best fighters in the world are the ones that can adapt to any situation and this this the mindset you want to have. It will be a good time to focus on technique and skill development and slow it down to a pace where you wouldn’t normally get a opportunity to.

5. Reconnect with people
Chances are no matter where you are in the world you haven’t had an opportunity to connect with people like you normally have. The beauty of Martial Arts is that it is the ultimate platform for bringing people together and connecting human beings through sharing a passion of personal development. When the gym reopens reconnect with old training partners and coaches and reach out to people who need to hear some kind words. Everyone has been through a lot lately and now is the time unite and get through this together.

I’m interested to hear how people are planning to make a return to training?

Email me!

Lockdown Day 4 – Overcoming Adversity Part 2

Feeding your mind.

The other day, my girlfriend said to me “if it wasn’t for everything in the media, today would feel like a normal day at home.” I pondered for a while and realised how true this was. We become our thoughts, we encompass what we watch and believe what we think. Day 4 of Stage 2 lockdown, and with a steadily increasing number of cases each day, the prognosis is becoming more grim. I could spend all day at home worrying about all the bad things that may happen, or I could focus on what I am grateful for and do something useful for my own mind.

At the moment there is so much fear and uncertainty in the world. Uncertainty unleashes negative thoughts that can take over our minds and consume us. It can make us believe that we can’t change anything and feel defeated. It’s up to us to take back control of our thoughts. But how? You feed it with positivity. You can read feel-good books, listen to podcasts and watch ted talks. Feed your mind with something nutritious because you are what you eat. Get yourself an e-reader and start downloading books that you’ve never gotten around to reading. Not only will it change the way you think, but it will promote great personal development.

I always used to struggle with reading in high school. It wasn’t until my adult years where I discovered a love for reading. It was because I started exploring topics I enjoyed rather than those prescribed to me. I began reading books about communication and human behaviour. That’s where I discovered my passion for reading and a thirst for knowledge.

Everyday we get to choose our thoughts and how they are influenced; by what you watch on tv, what you read on your phone, who you talk to and who you surround yourself with. You need to stand guard for your own mind and decide what you want to let in. If you let negativity in, then the weeds will appear and your thoughts will become overgrown. In a time when it may be easy to think “why did this happen to me?” instead, ask yourself “what is this trying to teach me?”

So tomorrow morning, rather than turning on the television only to get bombarded with doom and gloom from the media, spend the first 20 minutes of your day paying gratitude to something in your life, meditate, read, or watch something positive.

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

 

Lockdown Day 1 – Over coming adversity

Over coming adversity starts with feeding the spirit.

The way to feed your spirit is to find what you are grateful for. There is rejuvenation in the spirit when when we stop taking things for granted. So many of us focus on what’s going wrong in our lives (including myself) and forget to see the beauty in what we already have. We focus on the 1% negatives of the day rather than the 99% of the positives in our day. If we can take time to reflect and reflect on what we are grateful for then we will have a whole new perspective on life.

Everyday we wake up and we are bombarded with the negativity in the world and constantly checking for updates, all we see on social media and hear about in public is the death toll rising, when we go to sleep at night we hear reports about how bad things are getting. Then when things get worse we complain about how bad things keep happening to us. It’s not that bad things keep happening, it’s just that we keep focusing on the negative and what keeps going wrong. I am notorious about whinging about the negatives and sometimes let it get to me. The recent events has made me realise how lucky I actually am to have a roof over my head, food to eat and people who love me

Today I am grateful for having a beautiful supportive girlfriend who has been supportive of everything I do in life, my family, and the opportunity to share Martial Arts with the community Denis and I have created at ACSA Melbourne.

Even though we are faced with physical isolation it doesn’t mean we have to go through this alone. We can finally use social media for what it was designed for and connect us in times like this. It will allow members to support each other and reach out and share problems we might have faced alone. We don’t have to go through these tough times alone.

Things are tough at the moment but they won’t last. They will probably get worse before they get better. Keep your mind positive and support one another. We can get through this.

Perfectionism Is The Enemy of Progress: Just Be Better Than Yesterday

You’ve spent long hours in the gym drilling technique, put in those countless rounds of sparring, you’ve done your strength and conditioning routines dutifully. You were as ready as you could be. Or so you thought.

Things didn’t go your way at the tournament or in your bout. Maybe you were overlooked for a belt promotion…again! No matter how hard you try, things never seem to work out perfectly.

Don’t get things twisted. That is the process.

Progress is not achieved by an insistence on perfection. It is the accumulation of incremental improvements building into something larger over time.

Anything worth having takes time. An insistence on perfection at all times will see us get bogged down; trapped in frustration at a future that hasn’t yet arrived.

Avoid this trap of perfectionism. To make continuing progress, simply strive to be a better version of yourself than you were yesterday. Here’s how:

Eat The Elephant One Bite at a Time

There’s a well known quote attributed to Desmond Tutu, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.”

What he meant by this was that seemingly impossible tasks can be accomplished gradually via the completion of smaller, more manageable tasks.

In terms of your martial arts training, this means that each class completed, open mat attended, and heavy bag pounded, propels you incrementally forward ensuring a better you steps on the mats today than did yesterday.

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way, and That’s OK

There’ll be times when you’ll need to drag yourself by the scruff of the neck to the gym. No questions about it – sometimes self-love needs to be tough love.

Life can be hard. You need to learn to recognise when to be understanding of yourself if you are to continue on the path of progress.

Occasional failures are the lot of being human. You may be suffering from jet lag, financial worries, a family crisis, there are a myriad of things that life can throw at you that may impede your progress, temporarily.

The key word here being temporarily.

Don’t unduly beat yourself up if the harsh winds of fate blow you off course. Just be sure to grab the wheel and get back on track as quickly as possible.

Avoid overindulging in sorrow or wallowing in regret. This is energy-sapping, pointless, and one thing is for sure, more bad days are guaranteed.

Take your blows, pick yourself up off your arse, and get back to work. And, if you find that difficult you need to get in touch with your inner Bad Cop.

Know When To Be Bad Cop

Nobody cares about your health and fitness journey more than you do. You may be lucky enough to have some very supportive cheerleaders in your life, but ultimately you are responsible for you.

Listen, I know your mum or wife thinks you’re great regardless. You could lay in bed to noon eating pizza every day and you’d still be her golden boy.

If she caught you red-handed pilfering the Mona Lisa, she’d probably turn a blind eye. That’s because she’s the eternal Good Cop in the movie of your life.

But, kindness can kill just as surely as you can be murdered by meanness. There’ll be times when you’ll need to take on the role of Bad Copin your own biopic.

Take stock of your mindset daily to ensure that you are making that incremental progress.

Are you meeting your daily goals? Are you achieving your training targets? No matter how modest they may be, they’re important.

If in your daily interrogation of yourself you find the suspect needs to be leaned on, don’t be afraid to call out your inner Bad Cop. As we said earlier, there are times when true self-love love is of the tough variety.

The Bad Cop holds us to account. He is merciless in pursuing the truth, driving the weakness and excuses from our minds and bodies in the process. Ultimately, all this is for the good of our own development.

If you find yourself swimming in a sea of excuses for your failures, pass that truncheon and let your inner Bad Cop bully you back onto the path of righteousness once again.

There’s no doubt that aiming for perfection is a lofty and admirable goal, but it is an unrealistic expectation to have of ourselves in our daily lives. It can be self-defeating. It can make us brittle in the face of the inevitable and temporary defeats that are actually opportunities to build strength in body and mind.

Progress is all about our perspective. You either succeed in your endeavours the first time, or you learn through the process. If you choose the latter you will come back the next day a better you than yesterday and that’s progress.

Muay Thai For The Office Guy

As humans, we were never meant to spend our lives working at a desk in an office, but unfortunately is the reality for many in our population. Spending 40-60 hours a week not moving or not seeing the sun much can start to take a toll on one’s health. That’s why if you work in an office, Muay Thai is an amazing option that doesn’t just provide a great workout, but gives a peace of mind to help a white collar worker get through the monotony of their everyday life and be happier.

 

Not be Sedentary

The problem that comes with working in an office is you don’t get to move around much and not being able to get up and move leads to health problems such as back pain and obesity. Having the opportunity to go to a Muay Thai gym and attend classes learning to punch, kick, knee, and elbow will increase their muscular endurance, flexibility, and help an office worker battle those health problems that come from sitting at a desk all day.  

 

Having a Distraction

Guys working in office quite often get into a funk, where everything they do revolves around their job and they start to feel like they’re going to go crazy with stress and anxiety if something doesn’t change. Getting in the kickboxing gym and doing an hour of technique with mitt rounds is a great way to relax an office worker’s mind and take their thoughts off of work for a little while. Not only office workers, but anyone that works in any kind of industry can benefit from having an outlet from the stress and anxiety that builds up in their lives beating up a heavy bag and getting into great shape learning one of the best martial arts.

 

Easily Fits Into a Busy Schedule

One of the biggest excuses given by people that work long hours in an office is that they don’t have time to time to workout, but the great thing about a lot of Muay Thai and martial arts gyms is that they have schedules that will accommodate even the busiest white collar business person. It’s also not how much time you have, but what you do with the time you have and even taking just 2 classes a week will show huge benefits for them. There will be immediate positive changes in their work and personal life and what makes Muay Thai a great choice for a busy white collar professional.

Break Through the Negative Thinking That Holds You Back

Recurring negative thoughts form the biggest obstacles you must overcome on the path to creating the life that you want to live.

These negative thoughts come in a number of forms. Some are obvious; others less so. The first step to clearing these hurdles in your life is to develop the ability to recognise them.

Once you see can see them for what they are, you can begin to break through to become the best version of yourself.

Let’s take a look at a few of these barriers to your self-improvement so you can efficiently recognise and overcome them on your journey.

The Leopard Can’t Change It Spots

It’s true, a leopard can’t change its spots. But you aren’t a leopard and we aren’t really talking spots here.

Often cited as an excuse for failure, this attitude to life presents itself in common statements such as ‘It’s not really my thing’ or ‘I’ve never really been good at x

A little self-reflection here will swiftly reveal the seductive comfort of hiding behind such statements.

Fortunately, there is little scientific evidence to justify wallowing in such a self-defeating mindset. Research has shown time and again that it is entirely possible to create new habits in as little as 3 weeks.

A quick browse on the internet will reveal countless examples of people who have turned their lives around starting from way worse starting points than yours.

Nice try, negative thought patterns – what else you got?

The Curse of Keeping Up Appearances

At the end of the day, you really only have yourself to answer to and there is no hiding place from the man or woman in the mirror.

Most likely, we already know this to be true intellectually, but somewhere deep in our core we often fret about what others think about us. So much wasted energy and effort. Energy and effort that we’d be much better off investing in our martial arts training, or in other pathways to self-improvement.

The truth is, if we act to please others we will be destined to fail. It is simply impossible to please everyone all the time.

To live an authentic life, we need to listen to our own judgments on the best course to take.

While the judgment of others may intimidate, to be judged by ourselves and be found wanting is much more terrifying and unforgivable.

The “I’m Too Busy” Excuse

In the vast majority of cases, this is nothing more than an excuse.

Look, we all live busy lives. Our To-Do lists expand to fill the space available.

But, a brief look at some of the greatest accomplishments in history suggests that the vast majority were attained by extraordinarily busy people.

And you can’t make a few Muay Thai or BJJ training sessions a week?

If you can’t find time to train in your chosen martial art, it’s because you most likely haven’t mastered your time management skills. Or, you have failed to distinguish between being productive and mere busy-ness.

A little time spent correcting these areas will see the necessary space opening up in your previously packed schedule.

The “I’ve All The Time in the World” Excuse

This is the eternal optimist’s answer to the excuse above and, if it’s yours too, know now that you don’t.

If you’re in your 30s or 40s and postponing starting martial arts training because you think you’ll have plenty of time to get around to it in the future, you need to rid yourself of those thoughts right now.

Life is fleeting. It’s what gives each moment its immeasurable value. If you can’t find the time now to do something you are passionate about, what makes you think you’ll find it easier in a year or two?

A dream delayed is a dream denied, to paraphrase a well-worn expression.

A few years back a nurse published a list of the most common regrets of the dying. Topping that list was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself.”

It’s at the feet of the negative thinking patterns outlined above that the blame for these regrets lie.

You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, that’s a given.

But, there is no need to suffer the same pointless regret in your later years. Break through the negative thinking that holds you back and you will claim the priceless rewards that lie on the other side.

Believe me, it’s worth the fight.