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How to stay motivated when you suck at something new

So I’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lately (like every other trendy fucker).

I’ve been doing it for about a month now, and like every single person who does it I’m finding it incredibly hard. It feels like I’m useless, and that I’m barely learning anything.

OK, it’s really not that bad, but as an overachiever I find it hard to accept not mastering something instantly.

This is all apparently quite normal. You definitely get your ass kicked for the first part of BJJ. It may be 6 months before I feel competent. I don’t know how long it’s going to last.

But in the past, my Nice Guy Syndrome would make me quit something like this because it wasn’t immediately going well and I wasn’t perfect and making massive progress right out of the gate.

I once quit Muay Thai kickboxing simply because I got smashed in one sparring round. I’ve given up on hobbies and flunked Uni classes and so on simply because I didn’t crush it immediately.

And I’ve discovered a value-based motivation trick to get around the apathy that kicks in when things aren’t really easy, and that is to change the mission from getting good at it to handling it being bad.

Whatever it is that you’re working on, if it’s really hard, change your goal to enduring the hardship and becoming proficient at survival, rather than trying to get “good”.

This might mean chasing rejections instead of dates; drilling basic foundation steps instead of fancy dance moves; playing for time-served rather than aiming to checkmate.

So now, when I go to BJJ, my main mission is to survive for as long as I can before the guy submits me. I’m not even thinking about winning. I’m just thinking about escaping briefly, or holding out a second longer, or stealing one more breath.

You can even make the goal simply to keeping going even though you don’t feel motivated! You’d be practicing discipline at least.


For more on this topic, check out my video “The High-Achieving Perfectionist: Why nothing ever feels good enough”

https://theinspirationallifestyle.com/the-high-achieving-perfectionist-why-nothing-ever-feels-good-enough/

One Response

  1. This won’t completely get rid of your neediness to “succeed”, but you can consciously choose a healthier motive before each attempt

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