These last couple of months have been really rough travel months for me. I have spent more days on the road than I can count, been to all four corners of the country and in looking towards the end of the month, there is no letup in sight. I’m not going to lie; it has been difficult to keep my physical, emotional and especially my mental health in a good place through this season.
I find when I go on streaks like this, it is my mental health that seems to suffer the most, especially due to the central role my martial arts training contributes to keeping me centered. You see when you are on a mat with someone who is either trying to kick you in the head or stop you from breathing, you tend hyper focus on the moment and not worry about anything else. I no longer think about that project that is due, the deal I am trying to get closed or even the next blog post. I am completely in the moment. It really is cathartic for me.
The problem is, you have to be on the mat to really train and you can’t be on the mat if you are constantly on the road!!
I remember when I first started training in American Karate I started with a clear goal in mind, I wanted to earn my black belt before I turned 40. I knew the minimum time requirement spent at each belt level per the curriculum and knew that as long as I did not miss training sessions and always passed my belt tests, I could do it but just barely. Fast forward 5 years and I received my black belt 3 months before my 40th birthday in dramatic fashion (read about that experience here). If I had had a section of travel like the season has been, it would have been devastating to me and put me way off on my goals, my training and my attitude. Training was about rank advancement not necessarily personal improvement at that point.
A forced break like this would have destroyed me.
In addition to training in karate, I also recently started training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. This forced break has made me realize that I have taken a completely different approach to training and my mindset. The different approach was not an intentional one but one that is a probably healthier. Maybe it is because I have lower expectations due to my schedule or maybe it is because I have matured as a martial artist but I have no expectations around rank advancement in BJJ. No goals around when I will advance, tournaments to win or techniques to master. I just roll and learn…..and get lost in my own head.
I am a no-stripe white belt and I am OK with that.
During my forced hiatus, I have continued to see my training partners and friends tweet, post, Instagram and Periscope their ongoing training sessions. I can literally see them progress past my skill level, and I am ok with that. This new journey has become much more than a color on a belt for me and their journey is not mine. I have also found that there is so much I can do off the mat to be ready to be on the mat and in seasons like this, it is where my training has focused.
So why share all of this? Because as RoadWarriors, it is easy to lose track of getting centered. We are trying to be productive, to utilize our time to the greatest of our ability and to simply survive the gauntlet that is living life on the road but even with all of that, you have to make time for the activities that center you. So what do you do to keep yourself centered and how do you make it a part of your daily routine? For me it is train, pray and read. I am not sure what it is for you but you have to make sure you do it.
Let me know and I will see you on the road.