My New Year BJJ Resolutions

Are you making New Years resolutions?

It seems like most people claim to hate resolutions. I, personally, love them. 

In fact, every few months or so, I sit down with pen and paper and write out my aspirations for the next while. I've done this for several years, and the effectiveness of putting words on paper in helping me realize goals has shocked me. The process of actually sitting down and intentionally listing what I would like my life to look like over the following months has proven quite fruitful. There is power in setting aside time for reflection and planning.

So, I like resolutions. But not the self-shaming kind of resolutions. I'm not into relentless self-improvement just for the sake of it. If it doesn't feel right, it's not right.

Click here to read a post about how I learned I was setting the wrong goals for myself in BJJ!

I think resolutions verge on problematic when they are borne out of a "this year, if I just try hard enough, I'll measure up" kind of attitude. E.g., this is the year I'll get abs, this is the year I'll somehow make more money, this is the year I'll become THE GREATEST WHITE BELT ON THE PLANET!! (lol).

Here are what my 2016 jiu jitsu resolutions were going to look like...

  1. Stop being nervous in class
  2. Get at least one more stripe
  3. Try to not be so tired after just a couple of rounds 
  4. Try to not get injured so frequently
  5. Stop getting frustrated in class
  6. Actually remember stuff that I'm taught
  7. Focus more on my own learning and less on what others are doing

After reading the following quote from an article about turning our resolutions into revolutions, my BJJ resolutions are going to look different than what I've listed above:

This year, instead of focusing on being less, let’s focus on being more. Resolve to have more gratitude for everything your body does for you. Take up more space in the world. Speak up more about things that are important to you. Do more joyful movement. This year, instead of trying to create a ‘new you,’ resolve to take the old you out for a spin. I think you’ll find that she’s pretty spectacular.
— Ragen Chastain

Now does that feel good or what? :)

So, let's flip it. Here's how I'm going to alter my 2016 BJJ resolutions from a perspective where I was focusing on being less of something I don't want, to focusing on being more of what I love and appreciate:

  1. Focus on the much-loved mantra: You either win, or you learn. Being horrible at jiu jitsu just means that I have tremendous opportunities to learn. Putting in the work to gain competence in a skill confers dignity. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
  2. Get at least one more stripe, but don't make it about the stripe. The stripe only has meaning because we say it does. Appreciate the work I've put in to get the stripes I have now, and understand it's going to take more blood, sweat, and tears to get the next ones. Appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears as they come, because they are just as easily markers of the journey as any stripe on a belt may be.
  3. Remain cognizant of the fact that the amount that I exert myself is under my control. Focus on efficiency during sparring, and that trying to push a two hundred pound guy off of me is a waste of my time and energy. I never move my opponent; I only move myself. 
  4. Sometimes injuries are out of my control. I may get flack for this, but: if I know a fellow white belt tends to get spazzy and has injured me in the past, perhaps steer clear of them until I can see that they've chilled out. It is not worth another concussion. I only have one brain, and hopefully many rounds left ahead of me. 
  5. I'm a type A person who has always been an overachiever. This does not necessarily work well when it comes to jiu jitsu. I HATE failure more than anything. If I'm frustrated in class, it's because I'm not doing something perfectly, and likely haven't yet grasped how to do it with any semblance of remote competence. Refer to resolution #1. Being crappy at something is the first step to being less crappy. Frustration ruins it for everyone. Focus on picking up even one tip that will help me out the next time.
  6. Dust off my trusty BJJ notebook that I haven't touched in months to start taking notes again. Realize that during sparring I don't have time to go through my mental file cabinet of 'sweet jiu jitsu moves I learned once upon a time'. I often blank out and feel like it's the first time I've stepped on the mats. Once it's go-time and we're sparring, just breathe and let my body figure it out. Breathe breathe breathe. 
  7. Yes some people progress faster than me. Yes some people seem like they were born to do BJJ. Who. Cares. I have no idea what areas of their lives these natural BJJ talents may have challenges with. They probably need to work just as hard at something else in their life as I do at attempting to gain some kind of skill in BJJ. A year ago I didn't even know what a RNC was. I had no idea how in the hell you would tie a belt.
    Never forget the first class. The difference between then and now is astounding. 
    Remember that we are all running a race, and in the end, it is only with ourselves. 
I want women to see the new year as an opportunity not to become some new person but instead to become more deeply in love with who they are today. We stop waiting to become as soon as we realize we already are.
— Sonya Renee Taylor

Maybe we don't need to make resolutions to become better versions of ourselves over the coming year. Maybe our task is to realize how much we've developed over the past year, and to commit to continue loving and appreciating our journeys - no matter how imperfect - as we move forward into the next 365 days.

If you are a resolution person like me I highly encourage you to do the same kind of work that I've done above. It's actually really enlightening and empowering to experiment with the power of perspective.

So, what are you resolutions?  we'd love to hear them in the comments below, or on Facebook!