Starting something new can feel daunting, especially when as a beginner you’re nearly guaranteed to lack much – or any – actual skill from the jump. For some, this poses a deterrent due to the fear of embarrassment; for others, it’s an exciting opportunity to discover something new.
What separates these two views comes down to nothing more than perspective. No matter who or where you are, that same initial feeling hits us all, thanks to human nature. It becomes our ability to navigate these feelings that determines what we do with them.
This presents a fascinating duality: while we’re hard-wired to avoid danger and will usually go to great lengths to avoid it, this same vigilance can also sometimes hinder us. It serves us well in certain circumstances, but it cheats us in other situations — specifically those where the probability of a real threat is actually extremely low relative to our initial, perceived-danger fear response.
For example, when we’re out in the wilderness, our instinctual vigilance may keep us safe from potential predators or dangerous terrain — similarly, avoiding a dark alley at night, or slowing down the car when road conditions are poor. However, in a well-lit city park, this same vigilance might make us overly cautious when there’s no real threat, causing unnecessary anxiety.
Many of us experience this when we first start our martial arts journey — or consider starting it. We may feel inspired to sign up, but then get bogged down by deceptive thoughts (or plagued by anxiety) which ultimately steer us away from pulling the trigger.
The right time is now
The mind can play some pretty clever – and extremely complicated – tricks on us. Meaning, it can easily persuade us to believe just about anything despite even our best efforts.
We may feel downright inspired to drive over to our local martial arts school and sign up for classes right now! Then, as soon as we start cruising towards the garage and hop in the car, the voice in our head begins acting up.
Things like, “I’m really busy with work this week, I’ll start Monday,” or “I’m pretty tired today, I’ll go tomorrow when I have more energy” start to settle in.
This is exactly where you need to fight against your hard-wired inhibitions.
In reality, there will never be an “optimal” time to do anything. If work seems busy now, who’s to say it won’t get even busier a week or a month from now? You feel a little low energy today; guess what? You might feel that way again tomorrow.
The truth of the matter is, you can and you will find a way out every time if you let yourself. Much like building positive habits, you can build even stronger negative procrastination habits, where you delay day after day or week after week.
While this sense of urgency may resonate with some more than others, it’s important to remember that nothing in this life is ever guaranteed. You may believe that you’ll start training a month from now, but what if you get injured between then and now? You may not get to start for a very long time and end up missing out on one of the greatest additions to your life you would’ve ever known.
Perhaps the greatest perspective shift of all is this: Time will pass no matter what, a
Imagine yourself a year from now if you began training today versus if you finally chose to start then. The former is probably far more appealing than the latter, and while later is better than never at all, just imagine what you could have already accomplished in that time.
Don’t regret what could have been. We constantly hear, particularly in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, “I wish I would have started this sooner.”
Lastly but perhaps most importantly, know that the decision to begin your martial arts journey is one of the best decisions you will ever make in your life.
It will provide a meditative release, health, joy, community and so many more benefits you may not even understand until years down the line. We never know how much time we have left, so take advantage of the opportunities that you have now, this current moment.
Seize the day, don’t wait. Carpe diem.