Advice to someone starting a long-term project

September 5, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog, Fitness, Tips

Following up yesterday’s advice to a client, here is advice I gave to another client who was working on an independent program I’ve found helpful (again, edited for anonymity).

I think what I wrote could help anyone starting a long-term project, especially before you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I’m sharing it here.

(Regular readers will note it resonates with the quotes in my post “A master speaks on creative expression,” or at least I hope it does.)

I’ll tell you what I saw in what you wrote that tells me that if you stick with the exercises you will have the success you want.

I saw that you are doing the exercises fully, with dedication and discipline.

I see a lot of self-doubt, punishing yourself. I understand that. We’ve all been there.

If you stick with the exercises, you will go through periods of your mindset clearing, getting more focused, gaining understanding, and eventually comfort from knowing how to progress on your own even after you finish the material there. You will go through periods of your skills improving — yes, you’ll do things clumsy and wrong at the beginning, but with experience you’ll recognize patterns, pick up skills, and know what to do when.

It won’t be simple. It will take time and effort. You will have periods where you want to give up, where you feel you’re doing worse of than before you started. I’ve never seen anyone improve their life without feeling that. That’s what keeps people from getting elite.

The people who created your program figured out an effective order, timing, and choice of exercises that works — if you stick with the exercises, even if you don’t feel like it. The first few months won’t feel like you’re progressing as much, but you’ll lay a foundation you can build higher on. I don’t play music like you do, but I think it will be like learning to play scales. Scales aren’t yet music. They’re mechanical. But if you don’t know scales you limit how good you can get. Or like footwork for dancing or lifting weights or sprinting to train for sports. Only if you do learn scales, learn footwork, lift weights, or in our case do the exercises, then you can reach the highest levels.

The people who in the later months are totally different and advanced to living the lives they did the program to achieve, show what I saw you doing — doing the exercises with discipline and dedication.

At the start it’s okay if you aren’t yet able to do the skills you’ll learn later. It’s effective just to test the waters by trying as you are. Later work build on this early work.

To switch gears, to get into your identity, you have some amazing elements — [some personal information] — these are phenomenal building blocks to work with. With them you have the potential for amazing success. Your attitude and self-doubt will be your biggest challenge. That’s why I think you’ll benefit most from focusing on just doing the exercises. You mentioned meditation as a skill. Prepare yourself for a year-long effort. Get the idea of what that means. It’s a long time. You’ll have to learn to accept, even celebrate, your current anxieties that come and go on the day, week, or month time scale. What you get is confidence, emotional security, and enduring skills.

Regarding concerns about what people think of you at work, while you go out, etc… one of the most liberating things I learned was that most people are so busy thinking about themselves they don’t even notice you. That realization gave me great freedom. I understand people say things that don’t help. That will pass.

Stick with doing the exercises with discipline and dedication and you’ll find people coming to you for advice.

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