Slowing Down to Get Ahead

I had a tough time getting good grades in school. It wasn’t until college that I started to do a lot better and got A’s and B’s. Although there were many factors for this, I know that there was one factor that really stood out to me that threw me off. I knew it then and I know it now, but I didn’t have a clue on how to deal with it until my actual working years.

The factor was speed. Every time I started to do bad in school and get closer and closer to C’s, D’s and even F’s in some cases in my classes, I always had an accompanying anxiety of feeling “left behind”. I just wasn’t learning as fast as everyone, else so I assumed there must be something wrong with me and that I just didn’t have a lot of intelligence.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have learned a lot later in life just how capable I am of learning even complex topics, and I know that most of us have this ability as well. The caveat is that I need to learn at a pace that doesn’t leave me feeling “left behind”. We do not all learn at the same speed and it is not realistic to put people in a class and expect them all to learn in the same way and especially at the same speed.

Some people need to spend more time on certain topics, and each individual has a different topic that will require them to “take a few laps” with before they grasp the concepts and can apply the material. This could mean an extra 20 minutes, an extra 2 hours, an extra 2 days, 2 months, in very rare cases this may mean 10-20 years, like learning advanced skills on guitar or learning to lead a company or becoming comfortable performing putting under pressure.

The point is, we must slow down when we hit concepts and topics that we are having trouble with. We cannot add the anxiety of feeling “left behind” everybody else. We must run circles around the obstacle of learning until our brain starts developing the new wiring. It is a matter of neuroplasticity.

There are strategies to use while in a “circle”, such as spending lotted times and then switching to a different topic, and then returning to the topic you are struggling with, and this is helpful and we should do this, but we cannot rush on to advanced concepts until we have masted the fundamental concepts that are in alignment with our growth.

It may make sense to jump ahead at times and pick a topic that is out of alignment with the growth of our fundamentals, but we must make sure it is not too far. We need to stay in a state of flow with our learning, where our current challenge is only slightly outside our current abilities and comfort zone.

I am going through a book on computer programming right now and right away they are diving into the concept of Big O notation. This is completely new to me even though I do have a decent amount of coding experience. I have dedicated two full weeks to this topic. Some may learn and be able to apply the concept in a day or two. Good for them. I do not have that luxury. It will simply take me longer to learn something like this than others and that is okay. Once I have learned this concept, I will move onto the next and I will continue to enjoy the process of learning.

The joy is in the journey, not the destination. Dedication to the process is everything.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished ”

– Lao Tzu

Momentum

The goal of practice is not to do your best work ever. The goal of practice is really just to “get started”. Every single day, we must “restart” our practice from our current level of skill, building upon all the practice sessions we have held before that led us into our last practice session of “yesterday”.

Yesterday is where we left off with our practice and today is where we must begin our practice again. There is no concern with how our performance will be today or if we are performing worse than yesterday. We simply practice and observe.

By getting started with our practice session of today, we allow ourselves to start the learning process, yet again, for another day. Then, through the power of observation, we begin to notice how our practice session compares to yesterday and we can take notes on our progress and the direction that we might be heading.

It is this observation and awareness that gives us the “opportunity of a life time” today, to look objectively or subjectively at our current performance, and refine. We look for ways to refine our skill.

For professional athletes, there is a lot of data from the last few games played for areas to work on. Some spend time refining their strengths, some work on their weaknesses, some just simply want to get “better”. I have to imagine that all strategies are beneficial. What I think is most important about professional athletes is that they “get started”, over and over again.

Whatever they want to work on, thats what they work on. They don’ waste time trying to put in a perfect practice session. They may have goals and enhancements to make their practice sessions better and better each time, but they are not concerned with their performance during the practice session as much as they are concerned with simply just starting to practice.

This idea of “getting started”, over and over again, allows us to finally experience the power of momentum in our given endeavor. Momentum is a force that builds through constant “pushing”. We are not concerned with how well a given practice session goes, we are simply concerned with practicing.

This momentum leads us into new dimensions of mastery. We start tapping into flow states, we start seeing large amounts of progress, we start having more and more fun.

Most importantly…

We start becoming who we sought out to become.

Patience

It is important that we stay patient, above all else, when leading ourselves in the direction of greatness. Doing too much at once can lead us to miss out on what truly matters in our lives.

The goal is not to escape our current reality as fast as we can, as much as it is to use our challenges as catalysts that give us an opportunity to reach deep inside of ourselves and overcome our circumstances.

When we think we should be part of a different “reality”, we feel pain. Often the comparisons we make to other realities, other than our current reality can cause us discomfort and make us feel a sense of hopelessness.

“I should be an executive by now!”

“I should be married by now!”

“I should be a millionaire by now!”

No you shouldn’t.

A life coach once told me this:

“Wherever you are, is exactly where you are supposed to be.” – Paul Strobl

The comparisons to other realities can hurt and we don’t need more hurt in our lives. We need to use the hurts we have to reach deep inside ourselves and build ourselves back up from where we are currently at.

When we rush, we make sloppy decisions.

The goal is not to escape our current reality as quickly as possible, the goal is the process.

We we will lose our direction from time to time, and that is okay. We get ahead of ourselves and it ends up hurting our progress, that is okay.

The goal is always to get back to the process. A little bit, each day, over and over and over again. That is all.

We simply must find our quality in the quantity. We cannot spend time worrying about being perfect with our practice. There is no time or room in our lives for perfection. What we need is more failure in our lives. We need to speed up the learning process through lots and lots of small failures.

We do not “rush” to speed up the learning process, but instead we allow ourselves to get in the habit of being comfortable with failure, and this quickly allows us to get back to the jovial attitude that we need to work on our goals each day.

The attitude we are looking for is this:

“I GET to work on my goals today.”

“I GET to exercise my body today.”

“I GET to experience life today, with all its struggles.”

We simply must embrace this concept of patience and be grateful for the journey of the process.

If we don’t, our hurts will hold us back and slow us down.

Dream Immersion Habit

The concept of the “Dream Immersion Habit” is to do something every single day of your life that puts you in touch with your dream or goal.

The habit does not have to take long, it should take 10 minutes or less out of your day. It just needs to be something that subtly or intensely reminds you of your long-term dream.

My opinion is that the more intense you can make your Dream Immersion Habit, the more you will feel motivated, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be intense, you can decide what the proper level is.

One of my dreams is to buy a beach house in Hawaii some day. Although I have other dreams as well, this is a good “Keystone Dream”, since it reminds me of a big thing that I want to accomplish and also reminds me of my other goals that go along with it, such as having a wife and kids, friends and family, my health and a life of creativity to name a few.

Since this is my dream, my Daily Immersion Habit has been to watch a 5 minute clip on YouTube of the house I want to buy in Hawaii. It is an actual walk through of the house. The house is roughly $10 Million Dollars, which is obviously a big goal, but the point is that I am reminding myself every single day that I am working towards something “big”.

I am working towards something.

The idea with the “Dream Immersion Habit” is that we are directing our focus on what is important to us in our lives. We are directing our focus which really means we are redirecting our focus. In other words, we are meditating on our dream, every single day of our life.

Over and over again, day by day, we are redirecting our focus on the goals we are trying to achieve in our life. This is important for us being able to move through our life, and especially the obstacles that show up, in a forwardly progressive manner.

Another example I could do on a daily basis is add a little bit of salt to a glass of water in the morning. Not only might this have positive health benefits, but it also acts as an inner experience, an inner reminder, of ocean water, Pacific Ocean water, as in my dream of owning a beach house in Hawaii.

By doing this activity on a daily basis, I am constantly reminding myself of the future experiences I want to have, and priming my mental state to stay disciplined with the daily actions I need to take in order to make this dream a reality.

I am not attached to whether or not I actually have this house some day, but I am committed to my daily practice of progressing towards my goal.

It is this progress that brings great joy into my life. It feels good to get better at and move towards something, especially doing so consistently.

This build momentum, which puts us more and more in a mental state of being “compelled” to work towards our dreams, and have fun or find enjoyment in the process.

Ideally, the more you are in touch with your dream, the better, since you will be more compelled to stay consistent with your daily habits.

There is kind of a “Dark Side” to this exercise, but I will touch on that in another article and provide some tools to help work through difficult emotions that might come up.

I will also touch on the concept of a dream journal and self-written future experience stories in another post.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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