I find myself jumping from goal to goal. I’ve gotten a little better at this, but I sometimes find myself constantly looking forward to something. I’m ready to be at my ideal weight, I was ready for my black belt, and I’m for sure ready for summer break.
But by always looking forward to the next thing, I basically wish my life away. So that’s what I want to discuss today. Life happens in the in-between moments. I’m working to slow down and enjoy them.
The first area I’m noticing this is martial arts. It was such a big deal to get my black belt. I’m not minimizing the time, effort, and ability to get there. But with martial arts, a black belt is not the end of the road. I can keep training and keep learning, and I plan to. I’ve been back in class and working on new stuff. It’s almost weird to be learning new things again because I haven’t really had to learn anything new in a while. But I’m excited to be learning again. I want to enjoy this time. Testing is great, but testing is truly the time and effort you put into every class until that point. I can use this “in-between” time to really work on techniques and skills and make them look good.
I’m also trying to apply this to work. This school year has been so exhausting on me. I’ve learned so much about myself and teaching this year, and not all of it was done the easy way. I’m down to a little more than 10 days left. And while I am so ready to be done for this year, I’m trying to find ways to enjoy the last few days I have with these students. I’ve seen growth this year from my students. I had one class who started out the year on a bad foot with me, and have since figured a lot out. I don’t have to get on to them about behavior as much, and they’ve turned a lot around. I also have students who haven’t done a lot of work for me this year, but it’s such a pleasure and joy watching them do a project worth 100 points. They’re still a lot, but I’m trying to make the most of this time.
I’m trying to apply this principle in all areas, not just those two examples. I want to celebrate every pound lost, rather than being excited at the end goal. I want to enjoy each day rather than looking forward to the next thing.
Like I said, life happens in the in-between. When I look forward to the future too much, I’ve noticed it affects my coping skills. I struggle to handle bad days because I just want to be through them. I’ve worked on meditation skills, and a big part of mindfulness is accepting your present stare. When I go through a struggle or a challenge, I try to let myself accept that the situation is hard. I’m not perfect at it, but I’ve gotten better. By accepting that things are rough, it helps me slow down. And there may not be any immediate solution. And that’s fine too. Sometimes the only way out of the problem is through it. If I have a rough day, the day just needs to end. If I’m stressed and overwhelmed, sometimes it’s enough to prioritize the things I need to get done that day and figure everything else out later.
You don’t always have time to wait to meet your goals before life happens. There’s a song out there right now that I love. It’s called “The Let Go” by Elle King. The chorus says, “I was waiting for the let go./ I swore I wouldn’t till you said so./ I put the pieces back together/ so thank you or whatever./ Nothing lasts forever/ Man, I guess so./ waiting for the let go.” You don’t always have a chance to wait for something. Sometimes you gotta jump off before you’re ready. You may have to figure out how to put the pieces back together if you break apart. But if you’re always waiting for the next thing, always looking forward to your next goal, you miss moments of life.
I’m working to enjoy, or at least accept, every day. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Life happens here and now. Goals are great, and looking forward to them is wonderful. But don’t forget that life isn’t just about the goals you set for yourself. It also happens in the in-between.