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This year has been quite the year for me. I’ve undergone a few major life-changing and transformative events that have put me on my ass much more than I would have liked to be. Ironically, prior to the year starting, I predicted that this would be my year. I predicted that 2016 would be the year I finally make a huge splash and that I was finally going to actualize all of the goals I had set out to accomplish for a very long time.

Unfortunately for me, I could not predict that 1 month into 2016, I would experience some relationship problems with the woman I’ve been with and shared a home with for 6 years. Two months later, we gave our relationship another shot. In that same month, however, my Professor and I had a falling out.

The split between my Professor and I was devastating. As a matter of fact, I am still dealing with its consequences, but I am managing. What added more fuel to the fire is that two months after this parting, my girlfriend and I split up again –this time for good.

This Was Supposed to be my Year

None of the above was supposed to happen but it did. At the start of 2016, my goals were to become a Masters World Champion as well as take my first ever MMA fight. I had already started making preparations until life hit me harder than I have ever been hit before. I’m sure I’ve dealt with worse, but here in my early (to mid) thirties, the consequences and existential crises are much more tangible, with much broader implications than when I was younger.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced this year is the mental struggle. I’ve watched my desire to train hard dwindle, easing through most sessions instead of putting in more serious work. I have consistently questioned why I even do this in the first place and constantly doubted myself and the goals I set out to achieve. I have not even competed since December 2015, which is killing me but I just could not get in the right mindset. Add to that the financial aspect of competing makes things much more difficult. Each obstacle piled on top of another makes things feel exponential and insurmountable, but I stayed the course and kept moving forward in hopes that everything will just sort itself out if I just kept showing up.

Blessings in Disguise

Despite all I’ve had to face this year, I am glad I am going through them. Much good has come from some of these challenges even though it’s really hard to see in the short-term. I’m finally beginning to¬†understand what I need to do to get back on my feet and a huge part of it is just¬†showing up. I don’t know what else has ever really worked for me besides just merely showing up. I keep putting one foot in front of the next, believing that things will just work out well. Or maybe they won’t, but at least I’ll have the work. For me, JiuJitsu is nonnegotiable. No matter what problems were keeping me from giving it my all each day, my development could not be compromised.

Don’t Give Yourself the Choice

For a while, over the summer and into the fall, I wrote “NONNEGOTIABLE” on my bathroom mirror so that it was the first thing I saw every morning after getting out of bed. JiuJitsu is nonnegotiable and I do not give myself a choice to take a day off the mats (except Sundays, a must needed rest day when you’re in your 30s). I repeated this mantra to myself every time I didn’t feel like training for illegitimate reasons. If I was “tired”, I would take a deep breath and tell myself “this is nonnegotiable.” If I was being lazy, I would shake my head and say to myself “JiuJitsu is nonnegotiable”.

Interestingly, what started off as just a mantra for JiuJitsu turned into something much more widespread. The idea of self-improvement in JiuJitsu being nonnegotiable bled into other parts of my life. If I did not want to life weights, “this is nonnegotiable”. If I didn’t feel like writing, “Nonnegotiable. Write and do the work”. For everything that was centered on self-improvement, it become non-negotiable. Even developing my social life became “nonnegotiable”. Enjoying myself and having fun with friends suddenly became part of my weekly routine and it has allowed me to get out of my apartment and enjoy myself a little more.

Rewiring my Brain

There is a lot to be said about how the brain rewires itself into thinking or feeling differently based on how we train it. Research into this plasticity runs very deep and I encourage you to do a web search if it interests you. For me, I’ve had to rewire my brain so that I could get back on the ol’ horse. With all I’ve had to deal with this year, it would have been easy for me to quit, but as I always say, the easy thing is rarely the right thing. The hard part is to constantly and consistently improve yourself and those around you, hour by hour, day by day.

What helped me was this idea of JiuJitsu being nonnegotiable. I never gave myself a choice regarding whether to train or not train but I’m glad I didn’t. JiuJitsu is such a big part of my life I cannot be found making excuses for skipping out because of some mental or spiritual cramp. What is most important is that you suck it up, get out there and put in the work, even if you do not feel like it.

The work is nonnegotiable.

As always, thank you for reading. I am interested in hearing your feedback. Please use the contact form below!

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