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Taking 1 step back to take 2 steps forward. (The line between failure to act, and failure to prepare)

Sometimes we have to move backwards in life before we can move forward.  It may seem counterintuitive, and this is certainly a concept I have difficulty with at times myself.  To the special few that actually dedicate their lives to progressing forward towards their dreams it can be agonizing to realize that sometimes when we press forward without a solid foundation underneath us, our footing can give way and refuse to push us forward.


When I was 17 years old I decided I wanted to be professional MMA fighter.  I didn’t have access to a BJJ school, but I took boxing, kick boxing, and even karate: I did whatever I could possibly do to train and improve my fighting skills.  After highschool, I went straight into factory work.  In order to pay my bills I had to work a minimum of 40 hours a week, but I often was required to work 44-50 hours per week by my job.  At 11 dollars an hour 40 hours of work doesn’t get you much, but I needed this income to survive.  After 1.5 years of working 10 hour days, driving home and getting in 1-2 hours of training and weightlifting then going to bed, I got laid off from my job.  I had a choice… I could train full time for 1 year and collect unemployment, or I could go to school.


Despite the allure of training MMA full time and collecting unemployment I knew that I would eventually have to go back to work again at some point, so I decided to go into nursing.  I worked hard to get accepted to a program, and through a stroke of luck I was able to get into a program within 1 month of being laid off.  I was so busy with school I was only able to do cardio workouts in the morning before class while I studied for exams.  I had to stop training MMA almost completely because of the demands of my classes, sometimes I would get to train 2 classes in a good week.


When it was all over, I got my nursing license and started working as an LPN.  I made 21 dollars an hour at my first job and I worked two 16 hour shifts on saturdays and sundays with Monday- Friday off.  Because of my highly flexible schedule, I was able to train 2 times a day and do strength and conditioning five days a week.  Eventually I decided to pursue BJJ full time instead of MMA, and I decided to move across country to Atlanta Georgia, to train at one of the top gyms in the country.  If I had never taken a step back I would have never gotten to where I am today.  I wouldn’t have a decent paying job, or a flexible schedule, and who knows if I would still be doing MMA or not.


Sometimes making the best long term choice for your life is as simple as choosing a salad over a cheeseburger, but sometimes we have to actually be willing to put our dreams on hold while we build up the assets we need to pursue our dreams more fully.  It isn’t an excuse to wait around, it does not equate to saying “I just need to take care of this one thing” over and over again, it’s not choosing the path of comfort instead of the road of adversity: it is the ability to see the big picture and realize that you need something else before you move on.


Let us say you want to start a restaurant, but you have never cooked, never managed, and you don’t know anything about the food industry.  If you take the 20 thousand out of your savings and start a business with no knowledge and no skills you are most likely going to fail pretty hard.  Its great to take action, but sometimes we must take the action to build ourselves, our knowledge, and our skills BEFORE we are ready to tackle a task. No matter how much you believe in yourself, if you are 300lbs and horribly out of shape you aren’t going to run outside this instant and run a sub 4 minute mile, but if you train hard enough and lose the weight, its possible.


You have to be honest with yourself and ask “What can I do that will make me better prepared to capture my dreams, what skills and experiences can I develop that will better prepare me for my life?”.  If you can honestly observe and consider what you need to do before you do it, you will be much better prepared for success down the road.


Follow your heart, take risks, be a decision maker, but do so with a focus on preparing yourself for the journey.  Just like the body builder must take adequate time to rest and repair his muscles so they can grow, we must sometimes take care in performing the actions that will strengthen us.


Have an inspiring story of your own to tell?  Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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