Time, Choices, and Our Pursuit of Mastery as an Adult

I was talking to a friend the other day about mastery and how different it is trying to master something as an adult compared to when we were kids. So much of it has to do with our concept of time. As kids, our sense of time is so strange. Months feel like years, and …

Read more

Devoting Yourself to a Craft

Next week will be my one-year anniversary of training jiu-jitsu. What a journey it’s been. I’ve been a “fitness person” most of my adult life—beginning after college, I started working out to counteract all the sugary drinks and pastries I’d been consuming as a Starbucks barista. Though I originally got into fitness for appearance reasons, …

Read more

Finding Moments of Flow

mind The bell rings, and my training partner and I fist bump to start the round. We circle, both of us in a fighting stance, right foot forward, bent over slightly. I fake grabbing his collar with my left hand, only to grab it with my right immediately. I switch my left grip to the …

Read more

When You Can’t Think Straight, Move Your Body

A few days ago, I was attempting to write an article, and my brain just wasn’t working. I sat staring at the screen for a good hour, repeatedly tweaking two sentences and liking neither until I finally declared my efforts were pointless and slammed my laptop shut. I grabbed my jump rope and boxing gloves, …

Read more

Seven Things I’ve Learned After Seven Months Training Jiu-Jitsu

I attended my first Brazilian jiu-jitsu class a little over seven months ago. If you don’t know much about it, jiu-jitsu is a martial art based on ground fighting and is one of the fastest-growing combat sports in the world. Jiu-jitsu attracts a passionate and dedicated community, which is one of the reasons I first …

Read more

Weights Vs. Bodyweight Training

Happy Monday, One of the things I get asked about the most is whether I train with weights. The answer is: kind of. I’ve been training using mostly my own bodyweight for over a decade now. I like bodyweight training for several reasons: It’s portable! I love the fact that I can work out anywhere, …

Read more

Trying Vs. Regrets: Part Two of My First Jiu-Jitsu Competition

“Welcome to the women’s jiu-jitsu rollathon,” Pete, the owner of the MMA gym announces, instructing us to line up by the wall by rank. Six months into training, I’m still a total newbie in the sport, so I head toward the back of the line. There are about fifteen of us — more women than …

Read more

Trying Vs. Regrets: Part One of My First Jiu-Jitsu Competition

I started crying on the way to my first jiu-jitsu tournament. It was the first time I was competing in the sport, and although it was an unofficial competition — a no-gi rollathon held at a local gym, nothing that will go on my record as a jiu-jitsu athlete — I was unbelievably nervous. While …

Read more

How to Shorten Your Learning Curve in Any Craft

  “Oof.” I let out an involuntary noise as my opponent, a nameless guy at least fifty pounds heavier than me, slams my legs down, baseball slides his hips to the opposite side, and pins me to the mat. The last of the air in my chest releases as he does so. Since starting jiu-jitsu …

Read more

The Surprising Truth About Reaching Your Goals (it’s Not About Big Gains)

Recently, at my jiu-jitsu academy, the instructor began the class like this:

“I know you all want to be great. You want to make progress, fast. But always aiming for big gains is a mistake. They’re not going to happen very often. Instead, aim to get one percent better — every single day.”

And he’s right. When working toward any goal, we rarely make big leaps overnight. Instead, we should expect our progress to add up little by little over time.

Of course, this is easy to tell others and hard to practice ourselves. Each time I step onto the jiu-jitsu mat, I’m secretly hoping for a breakthrough. Instead, I have to remind myself that pushing myself just a little harder every day will eventually result in significant long-term progress.

Whether your goal is to become a better artist, musician, writer, or jiu-jitsu athlete, your focus should be less on the big gains and more on small, daily, incremental progress. Here are three things to pay attention to when trying to get better at any craft:

Read more