Friday, June 15, 2018

Life Lessons and Wargaming: You Are Doing Better Than You Think

Hey Everyone!  Today I return to my ongoing series "Life Lessons and Wargaming".  The point of this article series is to look at the little lessons we learn throughout life and how we can apply these to our Wargaming hobby.  After my last article in the series, a commenter gave me the idea for today's post "You are Doing Better than you Know.  I had received this advice a while ago as I was beginning my journey in fitness with weightlifting daily.  When we set long-term goals it is easy to feel like we are not making any progress, but in reality, you are and it is something you need to always keep in your mind.

I was given the advice "You are doing better than you know, don't you dare stop now".  It was after a heavy workout where I felt good, but like I still hadn't gotten any stronger and keeping up with my friends as well.  The advice was what I needed both for my fitness, but for my wargaming as well.  I applied the sentiment to my painting and my competitive play.  I have been working for a long time to be a better hobbyist and a stronger lifter, but I wasn't seeing my own progress that was right in front of my face.  I was focused on where others where at a bit too much and where I felt I was without looking back at where I came from.  I had been making big improvements, but it took an outside view to really clue me into that fact.

The advice that you are doing better than you think is one we all hear often as we work toward our goals, but it is one often ignored.  The reason why we ignore it usually because we don't see improvement in ourselves be it model painting, being more competitive on the table, or putting on muscle.  Just as we are unable to see a glacier flowing we cannot see the subtle and slight changes going on with our hobby.  You need reference points to a previous stage to compare to, but a lot of the time outside views from friends or workout partners can better show us how far we have come and all of us, myself included, needs to pay more attention to these clues of how our journey is going.

Having a reference point from the early stages of your journey is key no matter what goal you are working toward.  If you are trying to improve your paint keep one of your earlier, or your very first painted model, on your hobby desk so you can always how far you came over the years.  You need more than just one though as you are always improving.  Personally, I plan to paint a one-off model every year just to keep in my small display box on my desk.  Some models will appear to have large levels of improvement while others more subtle improvements, but they will really help remind me of how my painting journey is going and where I am at.

Likewise, if you wish to improve your level of skill on the gaming table you need to keep a game journal.  Each game you can see what mistakes you have made or what you did well to help you win the game.  You need to find a nice format that you can quickly take notes for you to review later, but not so detailed that you will neglect the game and your opponent.  It is a fine balance, but once you get a system down you will have your reference points to see how you are improving and seeing more and more marks in the win column.

Probably the hardest journey to track is when you are working on improving your fitness and body.  I have been committed to weightlifting for an entire year now and I finally feel like there are improvements.  However, everyone around me sees much larger improvements because they are not living in my body.  It sounds obvious, but I am in my body every day so the changes don't appear as drastic.  My wife, family, and friends tell me regularly how much better I look and the best clue is when I bump into someone I might only see once every few months.  While I take pictures regularly to see how I am improving with my muscle gains and fat loss it is very much the outside perspectives that really let me know how I am doing.

The truth of it all is that no matter what journey you are on you are doing better than you know.  We measure ourselves against others who are farther along in their journey which isn't a bad thing at all, but we need to also measure against our past selves.  I see so many wonderful painters posting true works of art with their miniatures and I strive to become that good, but I am far from their skill level, but when I look at my models from last year I see that I have made progress toward my improvement.  Even with weightlifting I look toward goals of squatting 405lbs, deadlifting over 500lbs, or benching twice my body weight.  The truth is those goals while getting closer, are still far off, but if I look to a few months to a year ago I am stronger than I have ever been and feel great for it.  Sure there are a lot of people lifting heavier than me, but on the same coin, I am lifting heavier than a lot of others.  It doesn't matter where you are at on your journey just that you are still traveling.

Our journey toward achieving our goals is a marathon and not a sprint.  If you feel you hit a plateau with your hobby or lifting then listen for those outside clues that you are still making progress and keep working.  You might not see the progress, but it is there and you are doing much better than you realize.

Until next time, Happy Hobbying.

Chuck Moore