When I was a kid, I took Tae Kwon Do. At the test for my yellow belt, I was told I’d have to break a board with my bare hands by chopping it. I was scared and pretty convinced that I was only going to break my hand. Back then, my only knowledge of that feat was Bruce Lee blurrily chopping his way through several boards screaming at the top of his lungs and flexing every muscle known to man (was it just me, or was the image quality on those movies terrible?). There was no YouTube with countless videos of people whacking boards with their hands that I could study. I just had to suck it up and give it my best shot.
The best piece of advice I got was “Make sure you follow through. If you only focus on hitting the board, that’s all you’ll do. Your hand will bounce off the board and you’ll be jumping up and down in pain. If you focus on going through the board, that’s just what you’ll do. There will be less pain and you’ll have passed your test. It will be over before you know it.”
Follow through. It’s important in almost every scenario imaginable. You’re making a sale? Follow up with the potential client and close the deal. Swinging a baseball bat? Swing through the path of the ball and watch your home run go over the back fence. Decided to create a new punishment/reward system for your kids? Make the chart, explain the system, but fail to follow through on enacting the plan you put in place and it’s useless. Frankly, it was a waste of time unless you decide to finish what you started.
It’s the same with making a change in your personal life. Let’s say you have a change you’d like to make. You make the plan, learn tools, devise strategies, and practice putting them in place. But what if that’s as far as you get? You get to the board, get scared, and walk away. You are just sure that you won’t be able to come through the other side of that 1×6 piece of pine. You don’t even try what you’ve learned, afraid to fail. Even after weeks of training, you turn away from something you were initially excited about. Something you put time, effort, and money into preparing for. Now you feel like it was all a waste. You start to tell yourself you shouldn’t have bothered in the first place.
What if your attitude was different? What if you looked past the board you have to break? What if you looked at where you could be if you got through? If you focused on and practiced follow through of what you’ve learned? Sure, you’d see that you still have more work to do to get to the next level up. After all, we’re always improving as individuals. We’re always trying to become the best versions of ourselves. But you’d also see that on the other side of that board, you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. You’ve used the skills you learned. You enacted the strategies you devised. Now you see where you need improvement more readily than you did before. You’re ready for the next step.
Do you know what you feel on the other side of the board? Empowerment. Freedom. Exhilaration. Self-Confidence. Relief. Determination. Before I chopped that piece of wood, I felt dread, trepidation, fear, and anxiety. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I didn’t follow through? Sound familiar? They said I could try again or I could stay at the same level. I didn’t want either of those. I wanted success now. I decided I was going to make this happen. So I listened. I picked a point a foot below the board and focused my eyes there. I didn’t look at the board. I didn’t focus on how hard, solid, and splintery it was. I didn’t look at my hand. I didn’t think about how small, delicate, and soft it was. I readied my stance and kept my eyes below the board. As I screamed like Bruce Lee I brought my hand down to the point where I had my eyes focused. When I looked up at the board, it was in two pieces.
Where do you need to practice follow through in your life? Ever make plans to do something and then just drop it? Learn strategies to overcome something and then not use them? It’s about time you followed through. The good news is, you can still choose to follow through now. If you need help with that, come talk to me. I’m offering $50 off your next session for the month of April and prepaid savings plans to help you commit to following through all summer. Let’s make a difference and get you into action mode!