The Secret to Achieving Your Fitness Goals: Aim High and Break it Down

There’s no question that the health and fitness community is abuzz with goal setting, especially around New Year’s. Yet, a staggering 80% of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions within 30 days, and only 8% achieve them. The key issue? Many don’t know how to set and stick to attainable goals. At 12 Minute Athlete, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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:

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5 Universal Life Lessons from Jiu-Jitsu

Three months ago, after years of not understanding what the hype was about, I turned up at my first Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. I quickly became hooked. I’m not alone in my experience — people who train jiu-jitsu often become fanatics about it. Many end up training for years, decades even, — a feat that’s nearly …

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The Five Stages of Learning and How to Apply Them to Any Skill

  “A certain naïveté is prerequisite to all learning. A certain optimism is prerequisite to all action.” — George Leonard Beginning a new learning journey can be exciting. Beginnings are full of hope and possibilities. Starting something new can give us a glimpse of what could be if we stick with something long enough to see it through. …

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When it Comes to Exercise, More Isn’t Always Better

The other day, I posted a screenshot of my Oura ring data on social media. I do this sometimes to be transparent and show that as a fitness coach, I follow my own advice. I’d had a reasonably active day, skateboarding, playing basketball, and running sprints, not to mention taking my dog on several walks. …

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How Your Mindset Can Impact Your Fitness Journey

How Your Mindset Can Impact Your Fitness Journey

Think about the last time you tried something new on your health and fitness journey and struggled with it.

Did the struggle make you feel hopeless? Did you consider giving up (“I’ll never be good at this, so I might as well not even try”)?

Or did encountering the struggle give you a boost of motivation (“I won’t let this thing beat me. I’ll keep trying until I get it”)?

If you responded the first way, you most likely have what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success calls a fixed mindset. In this way of thinking, effort is seen as a bad thing. If you have to put effort into something, that means you’re imperfect. Having to work hard is a defect. If you don’t succeed, or you’re not the very best, everything feels pointless — your efforts wasted. ⁣

The alternative, a growth mindset, means that you’re focused on overall growth, not just one specific outcome. ⁣

You run to get better at running, not just to win a single race. You train to become stronger and more well-rounded, not just to get one PR. You challenge yourself to try new things and grow as an athlete over time.

With a growth mindset, your effort is never wasted because you’re never focused solely on results. Effort is worthwhile regardless of the outcome. Putting in effort is meaningful because in trying, you allow yourself to take a chance and go all-in, even if you don’t end up where you expected you would.

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