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can we just forget I mentioned it?

October 6, 2010

In my post of January 25 this year, how understanding my values removed the need to get motivated to do anything…, I seem to have been pretty pleased with myself. I thought I had cracked it. I shared  one of my goals:

“… to continue my practice of Aikido and develop my understanding of the Art to a black belt level and beyond.”

I went on to talk about how easy it was to get out and get the exercise that I thought I needed to move towards that goal. The last few weeks has prompted me to revisit that post and ask you for a favour.

Can we just forget I mentioned it?

What got me started down this path was a short TED presentation by Derek Sivers who says it’s better to keep your goals secret. He shows evidence that people who talk about their ambitions are less likely to achieve them – and I am more than a little concerned that I might be a case study in support of his argument. In a neat twist on the “your brain can’t tell the difference between you shooting baskets and you visualising you shooting baskets”, he suggests that telling people about your goals gets your brain thinking you have already achieved them. The result is a reduction in drive to work towards achieving the goal.

I have heard the counter argument that you should tell everybody about your goals because that creates people who will hold you accountable for achieving them. But what about when you have told a large number of people what you are planning to do and then you don’t? Does that get you the worst of both worlds?

Despite my January declarations I have hardly been on the mat at Aikido since. I have however been a regular at Pilates sessions since then and in the last month or two have added extra sessions at home. I have started lessons with a teacher of the Alexander technique. I have made some fairly significant changes to my diet.

I have lost weight and gained strength.

My posture has improved.

I am more aware of how I use and miss-use my body.

But I haven’t been to an AIkido  class for months.

There are days when I think I am making progress and there are others when the new twinges in my back strike to remind me of the reason why I am not on the mat at the moment. On those days (and today is one of them) I start to wonder why I even bother.

My reframing Leadership workshops are another example. A lot of people know about my goals for bringing the Samurai Game to Australia. I have tried a couple of different ways to light in others the spark that the Samurai Game has lit in me but to no avail. When you have mailed out thousands of flyers, run google ads promoting the website and talked to anyone who will listen, it is difficult to face up to people each day who ask “How is it all going with your workshops?“, knowing that you have to say “well … it isn’t.

It starts to get you down.

I don’t really know what I am going to do next, or even if I am going to do anything at all. For now let’s just pretend that I never mentioned it and we can treat it like a poorly organised surprise party – you can act like you knew nothing about it but admit to your friends later that the invitation that was mistakenly posted to you gave it away. If you need me I will be hiding behind the lounge chair hoping you will still show up …

… until some of the wonderful teachers in my life show me there is another way to look at things.

My Alexander Technique teacher who can’t hide her pleasure when I tell her of the new pains I am feeling. They are a tangible sign of change, of growth. She reminds me that you cannot hope for change and expect everything to stay the same.

My Aikido Sensei who shared a story that reminded me that some of the sweetest moments in your life occur when you are hanging by a thread, the past threatening to consume you while you  look towards a future with big sharp pointy teeth – if only you have the presence of mine that allows you to see those moments are always there for you to enjoy.

My friend who made me smile because of the way she smiled as she proved the other two right and shared a story of how her frustrations and failures around a changing relationship with her daughter created a space into which they were both able to grow.

I don’t know about you but I think they are things worth mentioning and worth remembering!

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