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Watch Yourself Grow

With the year coming to a close, many people (myself included) will create a list of goals to be accomplished for the next year. Among the goals I have for this next year are some To-Shin Do training goals, of course. (Hopefully you have a few of those as well!) And one of my To-Shin Do training goals is … to pay a lot of attention to how I am growing toward my goals.
It’s hard to be aware of our own growth from day to day. As a young person you probably weren’t aware of how much taller you were from day-to-day or even month-to-month unless you measured yourself on a regular basis. Staying aware of growth is even more challenging when it comes to To-Shin Do skills, since there is often no simple way to measure growth. We don’t have a time we’re trying to beat or a distance we’re trying to go beyond. So we have to pay extra attention to the process.
One thing that helps is setting clear goals. ‘I want to get better at Ganseki Nage’ is good, but ‘I want to feel less effort when performing Ganseki Nage’ is better. Specificity is key. Also when it comes to goals, it’s easy to forget to celebrate the in-between steps that we’ve accomplished. Those steps are important ones we need to take in order to achieve the bigger goal we’ve set for ourselves. So if possible create some in-between goals.
One of the best tools of all is video. Video yourself performing the skill you’re working on at least once a month. After a few months, watch all the videos back-to-back. You’ll likely be surprised at how clear the growth is when viewed that way. Let’s be honest … we’ve all felt like we weren’t making progress at one point or another in our To-Shin Do training. (And we’ve probably all ignored our teacher when they said, yes we were indeed making progress, thinking they were just saying so to be polite). The truth, though, is likely our teacher was telling the truth and we were making progress. Just slow progress. Perhaps slower than we’d like. Maybe slower than we had before. But still progress.
By paying attention, setting clear goals, and trying to monitor ourselves along the way, we’ll recognize even slow growth and be less tempted to fall into frustration. That frustration with slow growth is the enemy. (Immediate growth is easy to be pleased with, but what important goals are ever achieved at the flick of a switch?) Get frustrated and we doubt ourselves, doubt our teacher, doubt our system … toss the entire student creed on its head … and make it so progress goes even slower. Or worse, we give up our goal entirely, not realizing we were already several steps along the way.

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