Elisabeth Clay: Juggling Life: School, Jiu Jitsu and Time With Friends

I hear people talk a lot about how to balance school and other obligations with Jiu Jitsu training. I was actually asked this less than a week ago, so I thought I would address it.

Many say that since I was homeschooled, I really just trained and didn’t do a lot of schoolwork. This isn’t the case. Most of my high school courses were college textbooks. My mother has multiple degrees and has been a college professor. Me not being well learned was never an option. Let me say to all the Jiu Jitsu practitioners (or anyone), education is extremely important. Choose your passion to follow, but do not neglect being learned.

Always Plan Ahead

My advice is to look ahead and plan large projects and papers so that each extra minute you have, you work on these projects. Whether you have 10 minutes between classes or an hour lunch break, you can eat and work on the next assignment. Never wait until you have time to do the entire assignment because you will end up having to miss training to get it done, or you’ll be late getting assignments in.

You can also use summers to take correspondence or courses to lighten the school load during the school year. Remember that the time you take to “play” with friends always takes from either resting, eating, training or academics. I’m not saying don’t go have fun, because you do need some time to spend with friends or just relax. I would always look ahead to what I had to have done for school, then I would be able to set aside some time to just relax or hang out with friends. If becoming a champion, or at least striving for excellence, is one of your goals then mediocrity in any of the major areas of your life is not an option. You have to prioritize your time.

Prioritize What is Important to You

I start with my personal spirituality. My relationship with God is a large part of who I am. It’s not about the building or the socialization of religion. It’s quiet and internal for me.

Next is my commitment to training, which includes my plan and where am I trying to get over the next year. Create an outline of tournaments for the year, then plan your training and cross training. Remember that an integral part of this is diet, it takes the right food at the right time to fuel the body for long hours of training.

I then plan the coursework that needs to be done. My mom would plan the lessons and what needed to be done for either the year or the semester, depending on the subject. Then I would decide which courses I would work on and when. Obviously, some lent themselves to work around certain activities better than others. Reading and math were easy to carry and do on short breaks between training. Papers were often easier to do early in the morning or at night during quiet hours. I’m personally a night owl, so I did most of mine at night. Just make sure you don’t stay up late too often if you have training in the morning. A few late night sessions in a row will start to show in your training. Sleep is important, both for training and school.

Make a Schedule That Works For You

Schedule management was and continues to be the key to success for me. Never procrastinate, although this is much easier said than done. Procrastination is the way to keep from doing well at whatever becomes last minute. Something always comes up, and it’s better to have your work done early than having to miss an extra training session, social event or competition in order to avoid turning assignments in late.

My regular social events involve going to the fights once a month to watch my MMA teammates compete. It’s a great way to show my support for them and build camaraderie. But even by doing this, my tight training partners and I have plan extra training sessions to replace the classes we miss to attend the fights. We usually have an extra session earlier in the day so that nothing is put off. If you want to succeed, never skip something without completing a replacement session for whatever you miss.

Always Work to Improve in Every Area of Your Life

I get asked if I am particularly intelligent. I’m not. Also, I struggle with dyslexia. Learning to read as a child was very difficult, but I never gave up. I simply worked and struggled harder to learn how to read. I learned very young that I either could quit and never be able to do what I wanted to do or I could work hard, struggle and make it happen. The time is going to pass either way. I have applied this concept to most of my life. My mom teases me that if I am not chewing on an elephant, I am not happy. For the most part this is very true, I have learned to love being challenged. Maybe that is why I love Jiu Jitsu; there is always something new to get better at, to work at and to improve. I never get bored.

Moving Forward

elisabeth clay Recently, my school work has been replaced by creating blogs, vlogs and other social media posts. Meeting with sponsors is just a part of the “behind the scenes” part of being a professional athlete, and I love it! I am very grateful for time and priority management skills I developed while in school. Without them, this stage of my career would be much more difficult.

I hope that as you read these blogs they will inspire you to become your lion or lioness.

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