We’ve all been here.
First, we think about something we want to accomplish. Let’s say, starting a martial art.
Then, we furiously research the topic and start to plan it out.
Finally, we get so overwhelmed by all the information that we get stuck in a cycle of trying to plan out the best way to actually start. Because if our approach isn’t perfect, we’ll be wasting our time, right??
Weeks go by and we still haven’t started, because we are still planning and researching the best way to go about it. Or we’re obsessing over the small barriers to entry, and distracting ourselves with the potential problems we’ll encounter along the way.
Well, you’re not alone. This is actually super common! And in an age of nearly unlimited information (and not all of it accurate or good), it’s increasingly easier and easier to get lost in the planning stages and never get your project off the ground.
As such, we have to become comfortable with the idea of imperfect action.
Imperfect actions are meaningful, but not necessarily optimized, steps in the right direction.
The truth is, we can’t really understand what perfect action is without the process of trial and error. Almost any action, at the beginning, is better than no action. Through the process of acting, we will learn to optimize our time and energy. We will develop more efficient ways to plan and operate. We will develop strong habits and begin to wean ourselves off bursts of motivation.
I deal with students all the time who ask a ton of questions over e-mail or text, but have less than stellar attendance records. While I am happy to correspond and work through some ideas, it’s important to remember that you can only accomplish your goals through action.
In Jiu Jitsu, for example, the path to black belt will not always be defined. You may not always have a plan or see the next step laid out before you. But if you show up to training on a regular basis, you will improve, and you will progress. Your imperfect actions will add up.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t orient ourselves with well defined goals, or research and chart out our path to the fullest extent we are able. Of course you should! Just don’t paralyze yourself with the planning at the expense of the doing.
There is literally not one example of a jiu-jitsu student who, through putting in the work, would not be able to achieve the rank of black belt. Not one.
Jiu Jitsu students–or any martial artist, for that matter–really only have two options: earn their black belt, or quit first.
Training doesn’t always have to be perfect. It just has to be.