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Just one roll: Finding motivation to train when you’re tired.

It’s been a long day at work.

I’m sitting in jiu-jitsu class, watching the instructor explain technique. I’m tired, hungry, and I really just want to go home and sleep. I’ve been drilling technique with my partner for almost an hour now. My body aches and my head hurts. It’s about that time when we stop drilling and line up for randori. “I’m not going to stay to train,” I say to myself. “I’m just too tired tonight.”

The instructor calls time and asks us to line up. I reach down to untie my belt, ready to leave the mat. And then I hear that little voice in the back of my head. “Just stay for one roll!” Just one roll. Five minutes of exertion. I suppose I can handle that.

I choose a partner, slap hands and bump fists, and we’re off! My blood begins to pump. The adrenaline courses through my veins. Five minutes later, I’m sweaty, breathing hard, and I feel good. The drowsiness is gone. I’m wide awake and ready for more. And so I stay. I stay for the whole randori. And when I eventually do go home, I feel refreshed and accomplished.

Breaking Down Your Goals

I think those of us who have been training for a while have all had this experience. Staying for a whole 45 or 60 minute randori can seem very intimidating. And as students we often perceive a false choice: either stay for the whole randori, or throw in the towel and don’t train at all.

I can’t stress enough the importance of setting small goals in life. If you don’t have the energy to clean the whole house, just tidy up the kitchen today. Overwhelmed by writing the entire report? Just write the first paragraph. If you’re too tired to stay for an hour of randori, don’t. Just stay for one roll.

Because so often, the hardest part of any large and overwhelming task is getting started. It’s about finding the motivation to take that first small step. Once you’re moving, the going gets so much easier.

And if you do that one roll and you still don’t feel better? Go home. Go home with a sense of accomplishment for achieving a small goal today.

One roll today. Two rolls tomorrow.

The bigger goals will follow.

Roxana Safipour is a coach at Easton Arvada and Easton Littleton.

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