“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” -Napoleon Hill
Wow, what an amazing journey we’ve been on together! Our grading tests took place over the last two weeks, but we started on the road toward our goals much earlier than that. For some of us it’s been less than a year, for others it’s been almost 20. We all achieved a goal over these last two weeks, and that is something to be proud of. Forget about being self-conscious or humble, and take a moment to feel the pride for what you’ve accomplished. Take a deep breath, feel the sense of accomplishment, crack a smile.
Many of us probably didn’t start training Wing Chun because we had a goal of passing a certain level grading. We were more interested in the process of practicing a martial art. And if anything, the fact that we achieved our goals shows the effectiveness of adhering to a process.
There were no guarantees that we would pass our grading tests. However, because of the discipline we showed in adhering to the process of training, we accomplished what we set out to do. We’ve said before that practicing martial arts is like a microcosm for the experience of life in general. This is no more truly reflected than in the fact that continual and disciplined adherence to a process results in accomplishment. Sure, we came across setbacks, but we overcame them using chi sao (metaphorically and literally). The more we undergo this cycle (dedicating ourselves to a process, overcoming setbacks, accomplishing goals), the more we create a frame of mind that predicts success through hard work; the more we build our integrity.
“Arriving at a goal is the starting point of another.” -John Dewey
Goals may still be important, but perhaps they are important because they help us determine what process we should dedicate ourselves to in order to achieve them. Goals are milestones in the process. If we have a goal, do we stop the process after we achieve it? If we want to learn to play piano, and we set a goal of learning a particular piece, do we stop playing piano after we’ve learned the piece? Not if we love music, and the process of playing music. The same goes for Martial Arts, or any worthwhile process. Goals are guides and motivators to picking (and planning) a process.
“The Christmas presents once opened are Not So Much Fun as they were while we were in the process of examining, lifting, shaking, thinking about, and opening them. Three hundred sixty-five days later, we try again and find that the same thing has happened. Each time the goal is reached, it becomes Not So Much Fun, and we're off to reach the next one, then the next one, then the next.
That doesn't mean that the goals we have don't count. They do, mostly because they cause us to go through the process and it's the process that makes us wise, happy, or whatever. If we do things in the wrong sort of way, it makes us miserable, angry, confused, and things like that. The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process. But aside from that, it's really the process that's important.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
We’ve accomplished our goals! So what now? Let’s continue with the process, and set new goals! Now is the time to take a fresh look at what we’re doing, and remind ourselves why we’re doing it. Maybe you started practicing a martial art because you wanted to get in better shape, find out how to defend yourself, increase your coordination, challenge yourself to learn something new, bolster your self-confidence, or meet a group of likeminded individuals. Likely it was a combination of these goals, or all of the above. Let’s rededicate ourselves to our training and keep creating the benefits we want to see. The best is yet to come.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” -Jimmy Dean