Balancing Academics and Passion – The Power of Sports

– Arika Sharma | Student, 3 national golds: 2 in Taekwondo and 1 in Basketball

“Without passion, you don’t have energy; without energy, you have nothing.” – Warren Buffett

Passion is when you love doing something so much that you are ready to throw aside everything and do it all day long. Passion is that inner fuel that propels you forward with unwavering determination, day after day. Passion is the spark that turns dreams into goals and ambitions into achievements. Sometimes, passion is what you need just because it’s a fun escape from school.

The big question is: What are you passionate about?

For me, I fell in love with Taekwondo a year ago. Maybe it was the grueling pain or the taste of the win after hours and hours of practice. Beyond the obvious, my sport teaches me invaluable lessons and traits like self-control, persistence, and healthy competitiveness. Taekwondo for me is a driving force, and over and over, it has proven that absolute dedication is the key to triumph.

But, I remember how exceptionally tough it was to make enough time for practice and study for school. It was really challenging. Juggling practices, games, or matches with homework and exams was often too much for me to handle. My demanding academic schedule continuously competed with the desire to pour all of my time and energy into a passion, which just ended up making me stressed out and on the verge of burnout.

There were many rough patches, with a fight gone bad or a test done badly. Too many times to count, I was tempted to drop either my studies or the sport I loved. But it is important to understand that you don’t need to stop doing either. It may not seem so, but you really don’t need to.

You might be wondering why.

Well…Sports becomes a journey of self-discovery. It becomes a way to enhance self-esteem and self-discipline, serving as a holistic approach to personal development—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Through sports, you get to know your limits as you push your boundaries a little bit more every day. Sure, you’ll have your moments when you feel down, when everything is weighing too heavily, but there are times when your sport becomes that escape you desperately need. Taekwondo for me was my safe place, where I could run away whenever I needed to. And well, academics…academics is that one thing that will open doors to knowledge, critical thinking, and future opportunities, maybe as a backup plan, or maybe it’s just learning something you like- just like a passion.

Now that we’ve got that, the bigger question is:

How do you balance what you love and what you need to do?

The delicate balance between academics and your passion—be it whatever it is—is an art in itself. Creating a detailed schedule, prioritizing tasks, and effective time management are the brushes to paint this masterpiece. For me, maintaining open communication with coaches and teachers, setting boundaries, and, most importantly, learning to say no to unnecessary commitments was the key to being flexible, adjusting, and continuously improving my time management strategies and maybe yours!

Here are a few pointers to achieve this balance:

  1. Create a Detailed Schedule: Develop a weekly schedule that includes both academic and Taekwondo commitments. Allocate specific time blocks for classes, study sessions, training, and rest.
  2. Prioritize Tasks: Identify and prioritize tasks based on deadlines and importance. Focus on completing high-priority assignments first. Break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Effective Time Management Techniques: Utilize the Traffic Light Technique or other time management methods. Set a timer for focused study or training intervals, followed by short breaks. Adjust the duration based on personal concentration levels.
  4. Effective Use of Breaks: During breaks between classes or study sessions, engage in quick physical activities to stay energized. Incorporate short mindfulness exercises or stretches to relax the mind and body. Avoid unnecessary activities that may lead to fatigue.
  5. Communicate with Coaches and Teachers: Maintain open communication with both your Taekwondo coach and academic instructors. Inform them of your schedule and potential conflicts in advance. Seek their guidance on managing responsibilities and discuss any challenges you may face.
  6. Establish Boundaries: Set clear boundaries for dedicated study and training times. Communicate these boundaries to friends and family to ensure uninterrupted focus during these periods. Learn to say no to additional commitments that may strain your schedule.
  7. Regularly Review and Adjust: Be flexible and willing to adjust your plan based on changing academic and training requirements. Learn from your experiences to continuously improve your time management strategies.

Beyond the Game: The Transformative Power of Sports

Personally, Taekwondo taught me multiple life lessons and encouraged me when I was at my lowest. From patience and dedication to facing challenges head-on, the sport instills values that extend far beyond the mat. Quotes like “No pain, no gain” and “Don’t limit your challenges; challenge your limits” echo the philosophy of persistent improvement and were instilled in my academy. A unique experience was when my coach said a heart-touching quote: “You aren’t just fighting for yourself, but for everyone who is here for you and supporting you.” This was touching, as I always have this fear of disappointing the people who have helped me reach where I am right now.

In essence, engaging in sports is a broad journey that exceeds mere physical activity. Beyond the primary thrill of the game, it molds individuals into resilient, disciplined, and focused beings. The skills acquired—be it strategic thinking, teamwork, or composure under pressure—extend far beyond the confines of the field. Sports, in their entirety, serve as a transformative step, shaping individuals into well-rounded and adaptable contributors to various aspects of life. Whether it’s the precision of a calculated move or the grit to face challenges head-on, sports lay the foundation for a robust and well-equipped approach to life’s multifaceted demands.

This article was first published in ZNotes.

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