BOOM! My balance slipped and the sound of the laptop hitting the floor made my heart fall at 100 miles an hour through the floor…How could I have managed to do that? I can remember with a sickening kind of clarity the moment that I pulled my boss’s laptop off the desk. I had caught my foot through the cord and when I stepped back, the laptop had come too. I can still picture it, screen bent inside out, lying on the restaurant floor.
It didn’t work after that… and I could never look him in the eyes again.
That was the day that I decided to drastically improve my coordination. I knew that I was capable of not knocking multiple things over a day, of staying on two feet and of taking better care of my boss’s possessions. I was confident that I had it in me! So I brainstormed ways to improve my balance and over the course of about 5 months, I lost count of the “guaranteed success” methods that I tried. All of which proved to be hoaxes or simply too different from what my body and mind needed. But, before finally resigning myself to a life of broken objects, I decided to give it another shot and this time take the first option that I found. Funnily enough, the first option appeared before I had even started researching. A friend came for dinner less than a week after my resolution. He told me that he had just discovered slack-lining. All evening he wouldn’t stop raving about it.
For those of you who are saying, “what in the world is that?“, slack-lining is an adventure hobby. It involves securing a line of woven fabric between two points (in my case, usually trees) and walking along it. I know what you might be thinking. Why would anyone do that?
But, as I said, I had promised myself I would try the first thing that came up. So I shelled out $200 for a long piece of fabric, watched excessive amounts of YouTube, and finally got the line between the trees… The hard part, as I quickly learned, was actually walking along the line upright. This was where my balance got the better of me. I spent months trying out the line for an hour or so every few days, determined to teach myself, to get myself to take even a few little steps. In the months in which I practiced, it took everything I had to keep going. To not give up when things weren’t progressing.
What finally got me there were two things: one was the fact that I had written down my goal before I started, including the part about taking the first option. I had made a page in my journal explaining why I was doing this, how I planned to do it and what my end goal was. This was something that I would come to reflect on countless times throughout my journey. The second thing was committing to giving it my all. Now in a way, I was doing this already by practicing for an hour every few days… But for me, that didn’t work. It just wasn’t enough concentrated practice. What worked was deciding one day that I wasn’t going inside until I had walked the length of the line. The. Whole. Thing… and I didn’t go inside for 7 hours. But it was those single 7 hours which was the turning point for me in over 3 months of practice.
So for those of you who also struggle with coordination, balance or just getting things done without breaking anything… Here is my advice for improving your balance without going through months of trial and error.
1. Write down your goals: I believe that this probably the most important thing you can do to make sure that you stick to your goal. It keeps you accountable, serves as a reminder and can be that motivation you desperately need when practicing doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere… which is unfortunately inevitable. Make a page in a journal or notebook while you make the decision, or just afterwards and put down everything that is part of your goal or will help you get there. It can be an incredible encouragement.
2. Find an activity which encourages balance: There are so many methods you can use and so many suggestions to make your body more in balance… Especially in the literal way. But not all of them are going to benefit your balance, and not all are going to be fun for you. So my advice is go out and find one that works for you. It doesn’t have to be the first thing that comes up. Just make sure it is something you do indeed want to learn about and can see yourself putting time and effort into it. Personally, I will obviously always recommend slack-lining, for the benefit to your balance, your concentration, and the connections it can bring to similar people in this relative niche community.
3. Sometimes a little more than just steady practice is needed: Yes, I know that banning myself from entering the house until I had the whole thing down might have been a bit extreme. But in the end, it was only this extremity which got me to my goal. Now for you, it might be that you’re able to reach your goal by putting in only a short amount of time regularly. But for me, I found that dedicating a day to it helped because I wasn’t having to warm up with simply standing for 10 minutes before each practice… I could just keep trying. Of course, this advice is very dependent on the type of activity you have chosen. For some hobbies, this is not feasible or may not work so well. But for hobbies like slack-lining, putting in a whole day, was definitely what helped me make it over the hurdle that was holding me back!
So give these little tips a go. I wish you all a steady and fun-filled journey!
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Photo: Calab Woods via Unsplash; Jesse Bowser via Unsplash; Aine Barton; Joao Silas via Unsplash