Who hasn’t said this at one time or another? I am too old to do or take karate or some other sport.

I recall overhearing a friend saying words like that as she talked about her failed attempt at “water skiing”. Thinking that the fact that she was pushing 40 had everything to do with why she ended up in the water after each try. Listening to her I heard the echoes of the dojo and the same lament from a lot of adults. Sure your body wears out and your reflexes slow, but it’s not nearly as bad as you think.

Think back to my friend, what did she expect? The most “athletic” activities she has done in the past 22 years are jog and play bocce ball. Though these are noble endeavors, they are a far cry from skimming along the surface of water on pieces of wood. How much of a chance did she give herself? I mean, really.

When you are young, everything is new. You are used to learning new skills and being challenged ALL of the time. You have too. As an animal, your very survival depends on your ability to adapt and think. When you are young, you can’t be afraid to try new things because EVERYTHING in new!

Now as you age, you become more sedentary. Being good at baseball is not as important to you when your 40 as it is when your 10.

The problem is:

  1. We expect too much from ourselves
  2. We don’t feel that we can be the best
  3. We don’t give ourselves a chance to try and to learn
  4. We don’t want to feel foolish

The solution is:

  1. Be patient with yourself
  2. Set the bar a little lower initially
  3. Accept that you will be going slower
  4. Find alternative ways to achieve the same

We all want to be perfect, we all want to succeed. But no one can be and no one ever is. All you have to do is be a little better than the last time. You can succeed a little bit at a time, inch by inch, step by step. We may take a little longer to learn but you can learn and continue to learn and grow. And before you know it, you’ll be waking up those nerve endings and reflexes again.

Worry about the little victories, making it through warm ups, trying to do pushups and situps;  just take care of the little details and the big details will take care of themselves.

 

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Kevin O'Neill