How to Keep Disciplined in the Circus

By Lyra Gross

There is a riddle that reminds me of how I achieve goals “How do you eat an elephant? . . . One bite at a time.” When I started training in the circus I would set big goals for myself and always feel so lost when I was trying to achieve them. Then I realized that maybe aiming only for the goal was not the best option. The trick was to stay disciplined and keep consistent

Now the big question is how do you stay consistent? Well, the first step is to have the right mentality. You have to keep in mind that you’re making progress when you’re training, even if you don’t have the skill yet. For example, when I was learning a new skill on straps at first I wanted to just go for it without any small steps in between. This caused me to dread training and sometimes skip a day of practice because I knew I would be unhappy with the outcome of my achievements. This caused me to actually get worse because I wasn’t training as often. Then my coach told me something that changed my perspective. He said, “Even if you only get 1% better every day that still means that by 100 days you will get the trick. You just gotta keep training,” After I heard that I managed to get the skill in 2 weeks when before I was trying to get it for months on end! This shows that if you acknowledge the little progressions you make instead of just thinking about getting the skill, it will overall help you stay consistent and get the skill faster.

The next step to staying consistent is not to demand too much of yourself every day. Set a small goal to achieve instead of aiming for something that may be too demanding. If it feels simple and achievable it will help motivate you to get out there and start. For example, instead of telling yourself you need to work a trick for a half hour each day, set an easy minimum goal of five minutes. Anyone can find five minutes out of their day and once you start, you will most often go longer anyway. This will help you maintain consistency and discipline when achieving your goals.

If you’ve learned everything from this . . . don’t try and eat an elephant all at once or you’ll get sick and give up. And adding a little humor never hurts:)

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