Journalling 013 -- Kaizen and Handstands

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Goals are nice. Goals are inspiring, and they can often form the motivation to get you to perform that first set of push-ups, or write that first 1000 words of a thing, or begin Googling how to learn a skill. For me, I have a tendency to visualise myself at the end point of a journey having achieved everything that I want to achieve in that sphere. I breath it, I think about it before going to bed, I fantasise about it at work. Then, usually, after three or four days, nothing has changed and I’ve taken no steps towards the thing.

Of course, I blather on about growth and how I’ve developed all the gorram’ time - so how can both things be true for me? The goals that I’ve achieved, and areas that I’ve developed in, have consistently been due to their nature as progressive journeys that are undertook and not a ‘state’ of being. The prime example for me is my strength training. Another would be my forays into crafting and making, or journeys into philosophy, socialism, and feminism(s). In each of these areas, I have managed to develop a strong habit of ‘doing’ or at least achieving what needs achieving to grow in them (usually reading or performing an action). The Japanese have a word for this; Kaizen (Edit 20/10/2017, due to the events described in this post, I have decided to include another reference to Kaizen. If you require a more accessible site than Wikipedia, please use this link for your definition of Kaizen). Continuous improvement. Usually westernised as the ‘get 1% better every day’ approach to improvement. In my language; making a goal into a journey. Today’s prompt is to take something that I want to achieve in my life and speculate on a Kaizen approach to making headway towards that goal.

For a while now, I’ve been trying to motivate myself to get into doing handstands. The context for this is that Handstand Push-ups (HSPUs) are the final movement in my strength training system that I need to incorporate in my routine to give me a strong basis in most human movements. It’s obvious to me that it’s time now, and has been time for a while, to begin my handstand journey. To look at me, I have a relatively developed musculature around my upper torso and arms; however the muscles associated with vertical pressing (ie handstands and HSPUs) are under-developed compared to the rest. My shoulders are tiny compared to my triceps. More importantly, I can feel this with the movements I perform on an everyday basis and during training; I’m weaker pressing than I am pushing, or even pulling now.

So how to proceed? Kaizen would teach that I need to do three things:

  1. Start doing the thing
  2. Keep doing the thing
  3. Get a little better at the thing each time.

The issue I’d normally have with training a new movement is finding the time to slot it into my strength routine, but since the first level of HSPUs is simply learning the headstand; I think I can get around this by making it an everyday practice to drill home the motor skills. Little and often.

Starting today here’s my plan:

  • Perform a headstand every day, working towards the goals set out in Convict Conditioning
  • Attempt to perform the headstand in the evening, scheduled for 1800.
  • Once intermediate level has been achieved (defined in Convict Conditioning as holding position for 1minute), begin performing two headstands a day, morning and night.

I’ll probably check in with my training partner-in-spirit D, to keep me accountable.