If you want to read an inspirational story about how I worked hard and eventually, finally, reached my goal, while fireworks burst forth in the sky, and clapping unicorns looked on – this isn’t the article for you.
But if you want to read about how I suck at achieving a particular goal, settle in!
So, what’s my goal?
Although my goal doesn’t relate to business, it’s a good example of why some goals, business or personal, are sometimes hard to attain.
Around three years ago I set a goal to do a handstand (not to be confused with being a hat stand.) By handstand, I’m referring to standing on my hands while upside down. (Again, not for the purpose of holding hats.)
I can do a handstand against a wall reasonably well, but I thought it would be AMAZING to do a freestanding one. Imagine just bending down, putting my hands to the floor, throwing my legs up in the air, and balancing. Wow, how much fun would that be?!
I really wanted to achieve that.
Three years on, here I am, solely plodding along in a homosapien-type fashion, feet firmly on the ground.
There are many reasons why I’ve sucked at reaching my handstand goal, here are three of them.
I can’t sugarcoat this. More than anything else, I didn’t achieve my goal because I was afraid.
Afraid of cracking my head open.
Afraid of doing a spine-splitting, ab-ripping tumble.
Afraid of every bang, fall, splat!
Lack of practice
I wasn’t practicing enough. Sporadically, yes. Regularly, and to any clear schedule, no.
I gave up too quickly
Back then I actually hired a calisthenics trainer who wrote me a program that included strength exercises and progression drills. It was an excellent program. Excellent, like, when something is healthy but tastes like cardboard. His program was excellent, like that. It was good for me, but hard to swallow. It involved all sorts of difficult push ups and crushing core exercises. I followed the program for a few weeks, but it was punishing.
I gave up.
In hindsight, if that program wasn’t ideal for me, I could have modified it or found a different approach. I didn’t. I just gave up.
I’ve embraced my goal again, but this time…
I manage my fear
A couple of months ago I looked into my backyard, and the weirdest feeling came over me. I just felt I didn’t need to do handstands against the wall anymore. I felt I could fall out of handstands safely, in order to practice freestanding ones.
I went outside, put my hands to the ground, threw my legs up in the air, and when I (of course) couldn’t find my balance, I cartwheeled out of the pose – which is the standard falling-out technique, a technique I was too afraid to even try three years ago.
This was a breakthrough.
If I could fall safely, I could now continually practice away from the wall.
My general learning: One way to manage fear is to reduce the risks in order to keep moving forward.
I practice within my limitations
Nowadays I practice regularly, but not daily. At 47 I have learnt (the hard way!) that I can no longer do such movements unless my body is completely warm and stretched, so I only practice after a workout. I practice with short sessions consistently, rather than long sessions sporadically.
My general learning: With all goals, I need to be consistent. I need to work WITH limitations rather than allowing them to hold me back.
I’m constantly learning
I now watch all sorts of YouTube videos on handstands by a whole range of people. Watching the videos supplement my practice, not replace it. I take little bits of information from each video to help me improve.
My general learning: Be open to learning from others but don’t let the process of learning take the place of action, they can happily co-exist.
Whenever I can, I try to visualise myself doing a handstand. I say ‘try’ because even in my mind it’s hard not to see myself fumbling and falling out of the handstand. But I give it my best shot.
My general learning: Visualisation helps to achieve goals.
I cut myself some slack
Although many millions of people can do a handstand, I find it really hard. Despite the titles of the YouTube videos, I’ve stopped thinking I can do a handstand within 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 weeks or even 5 months. It might take me years, and that’s okay. (I’ve set a deadline though, emphasis not on ‘dead’!)
My general learning: Don’t compare. Everyone’s journey and circumstances are different. If I’m doing my best, I’ll get there when the time is right.
Aside from the odd breakthrough, most days I kick up and just fall out of the handstand over and over and over again. But this time I believe it’s going to happen. One day, some day, I’m going to find that sweet spot of balance and strength. And when I do, it will be very sweet indeed, because it will have been so hard-fought.
My general learning: Belief is half the battle, and yet one of the reasons I’ll eventually achieve my goal.
I’m off to do a handstand now
As you can see, although initially I sucked at trying to achieve my goal, I’m doing things differently this time around. Who knows, maybe a few years down the track I can share some good news? But if you don’t hear from me, I’ll still be kicking up, falling down, and having a whole lot of fun in the process. It beats being a hat stand!
What are your thoughts on this article? Got some tips on how to achieve goals?