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What a Karate Weapon Taught Me About Achieving Big Goals

What a Karate Weapon Taught Me About Achieving Big Goals
    Photo credit: T4LLBERG (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    When I used to watch martial artists with various weaponry, I was always amazed with their skills. The way they spun and manipulated their weapons was nothing short of magical to my eyes. It wasn’t long before I started training with martial arts weaponry myself.

    One of these weapons was the bo staff, which is like a long stick. Although perhaps one of the more basic weapons (since it really is only a stick), the bo staff can be manipulated in all sorts of impressive ways. But when I first started to use a bo staff, it was absolutely brutal.

    I was so clumsy with it; I often ended up hitting myself on the head, my elbows, knees and shins. And since the bo staff is a long weapon, I needed to have ample room to train with it. Initially when I tried to use it indoors, I ended up poking holes in the ceiling and walls. And this is when the lessons began.

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    Lesson 1: Big Goals, Too Distant

    Because of the lack of room indoors, I had to take my bo staff training outdoors. I was still at my clumsy stage as mastery of this karate weapon seemed like something that was too far off in the distance.

    Sometimes my neighbors would be watching me as I tried to work on various techniques outside with my bo staff. I could just imagine them shaking their heads as they wondered why I was going through such torture beating myself up with this long stick. But despite my difficulties, I didn’t give up.

    Indeed, many of our big goals in life are like this. They seem to be so distant that we wonder if achieving them would ever become possible at all. But we don’t give up with the hopes that we can reach them.

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    Lesson 2: Expand Comfort Zones Little By Little

    I started out with some of the more easy and basic moves. Then as I got better, I added more technical and difficult moves with my bo staff. I was expanding my own comfort zone little by little with each training day. I slowly worked on the techniques I was not very comfortable with. Over time, something magical happened.

    In essence, the bo staff, my body, mind and spirit all started to merge together into one unit, much like the martial artists I had admired for their weaponry skills. I started to get good enough with the bo staff that I was able to perform a routine (or martial arts weapons form) that started to win in competitions.

    Since I was originally not skilled with the bo staff, my comfort zone with it was pretty well just standing there holding it without doing anything too fancy. I was only able to learn how to use it with more complex maneuvers when I slowly expanded my comfort zone each day with it.

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    Lesson 3: Big Goals, Same Approach

    What this karate weapon taught me was that this same approach could be used for all big goals in life.  They could be goals related to business, career, school, health or even martial arts weaponry (like in my case). It didn’t matter how remote it seemed, but by slowly expanding your comfort zone in the process, big goals can be achieved.

    All big goals require the mastery of different skills, which are outside of your comfort zone at first. By slowly expanding your comfort zone a bit each day to work on these skills, you will eventually accomplish what you had hoped for.

    Conclusion

    The bo staff has since become part of my motivation and diversity keynote presentations as it sets me apart from other professional speakers. So even though I’m retired from martial arts competition, the bo staff is still very much a part of my life. It helps me demonstrate the important principle of expanding comfort zones for any big goals that people may have.

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    It is truly a great weapon to have in my arsenal.

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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