On Learning to Jump Rope and Pretty Much Everything Else

My daughter came home from school this week with only 1 thing in mind, learning to jump rope.  She raced home from school, dropped her backpack in the middle of the driveway, grabbed the jump rope and proceeded to flail around for 10 frustrating minutes.  She smacked her rope on the car, the garage, the basketball goal and her bike in the process.   She finally fell into a teary heap onto the driveway sobbing.

Sister: “I will NEVER learn to jump rope!  EVERYONE in my class knows how to jump rope, except me.  EVERYONE jumps rope EVERYDAY on the playground except me, because I just can’t do it!”

How much does this sound like our grown up adventures?  I want to lose weight so I race home from the gym/seminar/lunch with a friend, toss all the junk food in the house, and flail around for quite some time waiting for the weight to fall off.  EVERYONE else can do it.  It’s easy for everyone else. I’ll never be able to do it!

I want to declutter my house.  So I go to the basement and throw piles and piles of stuff into the middle of the room, then proceed to flail around and bury myself in memories/paperwork/what do I do with this s*$%.  Finally, I lay down in the middle of my mess, cry a little and think, why can’t I do it!?  EVERYONE else can get rid of this stuff, I just can’t do it!

How to learn to Jump Rope.

Step 1:  Figure out why it’s important.
For my daughter, it was so that she could play on the playground with her friends, who will most likely be moving on tomorrow.  Instead of jumping rope, they will be leaping off the swings or playing pound puppies.  Her goal is obviously short lived.  But ours probably aren’t.  Why do WE want to achieve this goal.

Step 2: What does it look like when it’s done?
Finally, my sweet child stopped flailing and crying.  We sat down on the driveway and imagined what it looked like to be the best rope jumper in all the world? Where would you jump rope? What would the rope look like? Do you do it barefoot or wear shoes? It’s a big job mastering any skill.  How do you know when “it is good?”

Step 3: How do you begin?
After we imagined what jumping rope feels and looks like, we had this conversation.
Me:  So how do we start?
Her: I just do this.  Then she proceeded to flail and jump and lose her patience again.
Me:  But what is the first thing you need?
Her: (lightbulb) A rope!!
Poor kid couldn’t see the steps because she was so overwhelmed with the complexity of the situation.  Jumping Rope, losing weight, decluttering, making dinner or exercising is complex and overwhelming because we have no idea where to start.  The truth is she just needed a rope.  When I started trying to lose weight, I just needed a glass of water.  Start somewhere, start simple and start successful.

Step 4: Survey your environment.
Once she had her rope she had to figure out where to put it.  Obviously the kitchen isn’t the best place to learn to jump rope.  McDonalds isn’t the best place to start losing weight, Target is MY worst place to start decluttering the house, and maybe the couch isn’t the best place to begin your exercise routine.  Sister picked a nice piece of property close to the road but not too close.  It was away from the house, the car and brother’s flying basketball.

And she did it… one step at a time and about an hour later… she had it mastered.   She is not a world class Jump Rope Master, but she’ll do.  She can hang with the girls on the playground and she can run up and down the block spinning her rope with confidence.

Maybe I should take a little lesson from this little person’s book of wisdom.  Why is my goal so important? What does success look like? What do I need to begin? Start in a good place.

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