Do you ever feel stuck? Do you ever feel that you are a slave to your work, yet your work doesn’t fulfill you and it leaves you feeling empty and unaccomplished? Have you ever felt that what you are doing is meaningless, or that despite your success you feel you aren’t on the right path in life?
It wasn’t too long ago I was stuck with no direction. I had my nose buried in the grindstone and I wouldn’t allow myself to look up from what I was doing for a second. I used to think I was a hard worker, and that I was dedicated, brave, and strong, but it took some time to realize that I was wrong about it all.
I was training full time in the martial arts and neglecting every single other aspect of my life: family, career, finances, and relationships. I told myself I did it for the love of the sport, I told myself that this was my calling in life, and then one day it all dawned on me that the life I had been living was a lie. I wasn’t throwing myself into my passion, and I wasn’t growing as a person, I was just hiding from the hostility of life within something that I enjoyed.
I was obsessed: I trained some days for 6 hours or more, my body was beat down, I was financially broke, I was unfulfilled, and when I wasn’t training I was miserable. Most of the time even when I WAS training I was miserable. When I was at home I was lazy, irresponsible, unmotivated, and callous. I dove into the martial arts, because I was too afraid to deal with life, so I threw myself into a sport that dominated my life.
Am I saying it is wrong to throw yourself into a passion? Absolutely not, after all, I have other passions now, and I hope in time I will fall back in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Maybe it was burnout from training hard, maybe it was fear that I would never accomplish what I wanted, or MAYBE it was that I realized that what I wanted to accomplish in martial arts and the person I really wanted to become did not intersect.
I thought my accomplishments in Martial Arts would make me into the person that I wanted to be: someone that people would respect and look up to, but then I realized one day I was only going to become the person I wanted to be if I started building the character traits I needed to be that person.
Diving into martial arts gave me an excuse to neglect everything else, I didn’t have to worry about bills, relationships, work, self improvement or anything else in life. I just threw myself into the moment and claimed it all as hard work, but while I dedicated myself fully to one thing, I had to give up everything else. I kept saying I would start reading again soon, I would start phoning my parents more often soon, and I would start making money soon. I was stuck in waiting, and while I went on autopilot in my training, I neglected the rest of my life.
I was an ostrich with it’s head stuck in the dirt, and while I trained and ignored the world around me, it left me behind. One day I woke up and I was 25 years old with nothing to my name, no money, no legacy, no special skills or value other than the martial arts, and I realized this: if I wanted to someday be a business owner, help people, and give back to the world, I wouldn’t have any of the skills I needed to do what I REALLY wanted to do in life. So I decided to start developing myself instead of just my craft.
I got blinded by the thirst of achievement, I wanted to win a world championship so bad, because if I won, I thought that would make me worth something: if I won, I thought everyone would want to train with a world champion, and maybe that’s true, but who had I become in the process? What others skills had I learned from training? How would my life really change if I won a world title?
I guess that’s when everything changed for me, when I realized that I don’t change when I win a world title. I was seeking accomplishments to make me the man I wanted to become, but I realized that by delaying my own growth and development as a person, all I was doing was living as a child. I said a championship would make me into the man I wanted to be, but really I was just a little boy who wanted to stay home and play instead of going to school. I realized I am not my accomplishments, I am what I develop, and if I want to become someone great, I need to develop who I am first. The change I was looking for had to take place from within, I couldn’t create it just by diving into my work head first.
So the last year has been a process, but I have learned a lot. I still have a ton of learning to do, and I still have many failures and hardships to endure. But now, I am finally focused on the process of becoming, rather than focusing on what I can accomplish.
I was focusing only on results, and I am starting now to focus more on the process. Success comes as a byproduct of loving what you do and focusing on your own personal growth. The more you grow and learn, the better suited you are to meet life’s tests and trials with courage, while the more you focus on some point in the future you often begin to lose the love of the process.
I was so focused on winning a world title: that was the only way I was going to be happy. I wasn’t training to get better, I was training for a title. Every time the title didn’t come, I worked a little harder, and every time I lost, I started to hate what I was doing a little more.
Now I am focusing on following my heart more, listening to the little voice deep inside of me. Now I am focusing on loving what I do again, and trying to turn life into something that makes me better each day,rather than just getting stuff done. I guess what I really wanted all along was a “qualification” that I was a good person and was worthy to start helping people, but I can help people right this very moment, and so can you.
Every second we can choose to live our life with purpose or indiscretion. Its pretty simple when you look closely at it all. Your life is not some point in the future, and you don’t become the wealthy person when you hit the lottery and win a million dollars, because you are still mentally poor, and all the money is going to leave you again.
Now I know that I am a winner, and I don’t need a win to prove anything to anyone, now my confidence comes from within, and it comes from the man that I have become (from deep seated beliefs and integrity) I don’t seek results as a battleground to prove my worth as a man, I just focus on becoming a better man each day.
You have learn to love yourself as you are in this very moment, but also learn to love the process of making yourself a little bit better each day. You aren’t some perfect person in the future, and you aren’t some terrible person from your past, you are living in this moment and you are everything you decide to be right now.
The change you seek is within you waiting right now; your life doesn’t start at some point in the future, it starts now, so don’t get stuck in the waiting room, just get up and start making it happen today.
Shane Sorensen is a life coach, author, nurse, lover of life, a dreamer, and the owner and editor of www.MakeYourBestSelf.com. You can reach him by email at ShaneSorensen@makeyourbestself.com
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