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Ageless Mental Strategies-Part 3

There may be times when you encounter an individual who lives on past accomplishments. I have instructed martial arts for almost four decades and frequently meet people who tout the fact that they are black belts in various martial art forms. Unfortunately, the individuals who make this claim have sometimes not trained for many years. At one point in their lives, they had the capability to perform at a high level, but with a significant time lapse in training, they have become a shadow of their former athletic selves.
I have witnessed this happen many times, and it appears to be built into our culture. How many high school class reunions have you attended? How many of your former classmates are just as you remembered? Is the all-star athlete still in shape? Or has a lack of exercise and poor diet caused detriment to his or her physical well-being?
The loss of physical attributes typically occurs over time with any seasoned athlete, whether they were amateur or pro. It is essential that their past athletic achievements are not the focal point. This is not to minimize any of the accomplishments made by these individuals; it is only to suggest that to be Ageless/Timeless, one must focus on the present and future in order to move forward in this lifestyle. A competitive athlete may not be able to perform at the level he or she achieved during the peak of their athletic career, but there is no reason that a dramatic deterioration in their ability should occur.
An Ageless athlete needs to strive for improvement and seek challenges. Living in the past will not accomplish this. Athletes need to find their current performance level and strive to enhance it.
Perhaps you are a runner. What is your average pace for running a mile? Can you develop a plan to improve that time? Even if you are only improving the pace by a few seconds, you are still moving forward. This same data-driven strategy can be used for many endeavors, including biking, weight training, swimming, push-ups, and pull-ups. The goals and endeavors are endless, but the point is that the practitioner is striving for improvement and not resting on his or her laurels.
It is also important to get out of your comfort zone and attempt challenges that may cause you to learn a whole new skillset. For example, as a 5’11” and 215-pound man, I did not typically assume challenges that made me feel and/or look uncoordinated. Nevertheless, I was well into my fifties when I attempted to learn to perform a simple headstand. This was a counterintuitive skill to learn, differing from any requirement for any sport in which I participated. With diligence, many failures, and some embarrassment, I was finally able to achieve a headstand. For those of you who are the coordinated gymnast type, this would seem unremarkable and rudimentary. For me, it was a major challenge. Now I want to perform a handstand. This is one of many such challenges I have incorporated to enhance my skills, improve my physical well-being, and avoid stagnation.
You select the challenge. Ultimately, the Ageless athlete needs to compete with himself. It is vital to find something that makes you feel alive and provides you with an opportunity to progress, to learn, to grow.

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