A conversation with my 12-yo daughter on human performance

Impromptu jump!

Key takeaways:

  • time is limited, so make sure you do key things first; prioritise.
  • fun time is nice but don’t pay a big price for yesterday’s fun time; you pay sooner or later.
  • sleep is essential and key to your performance; sleep and recovery matters a lot (for a dancer).
  • know who you are and don’t flow with the crowd; you matter.

My daughter just started Year 7 this year with excitement and of course, a bit nerve. After a couple of weeks into Year 7, I spent a Sunday afternoon with her over a lovely afternoon tea. We talked about new things at school, new friends, new subjects and how she was coping with all these.

Different from other high school students is that my daughter goes to a college that blends performing arts, music and elite sports into a high school programme. My daughter is a ballet dancer so she spends on average three hours on dancing each day on top of regular high school academic subjects. Quite tough for a 12-yo girl.

With all the technology gadgets around her, she is able to get her e-textbooks online, and does a lot of things on her nice MacBook Air I bought her; if not on her iPhone. The conversation over our afternoon tea was on the coping strategy she could use because I was quite concerned how she had been coping with all the learning and dancing stuff mixed together.

She admitted that it was a bit tough to do everything. She was into learning, into dancing (with nice-looking ballet pointe shoes) and meanwhile, also into the Internet space with her own MacBook Air! She has got some influence from her new friend who is a big fan of Anime so she had spent some time on watching interesting Anime stuff when she was allowed to do so and of course, even when not allow. Not surprising.

She quickly learned a new lesson after starting Year 7: she couldn’t do everything! She needed to learn to let go of things that she wanted to do but were not high on the priority list. Watching Anime is one of them! I asked her “what’s your priority list?”. She said: “Of course, homework and dancing.” I told her: “You may re-consider that.”

“Why?”, she thought. “Well, for you as a 12-yo with such an academic and performing art programme, your first priority is sleeping!”, I said. “Really?”, she was amazed. Then I explained why good sleep is so important for a 12-yo because it re-energises her body during her rapid growing period in the early teens. “If you could have enough sleep with good quality, then you could learn more quickly and effectively. “This will make your performance better, leaving you more time to watch your favourite Anime.”, I said. “That sounds pretty nice, Dad! So, if I sleep well, then eventually I have more time to do my own stuff?”, my daughter happily said.

Yes, this is true. If one sleeps well, then she will be able to work more efficiently with high performance. Then eventually, she will spend less time on work and still enjoy doing other things that she loves. For my 12-yo, that’s watching Anime and doing her craft.

Knowing is sometimes different from doing; the same for my daughter and many of us! She struggled among all the things and quickly forgot the ‘priority’ things that were coming. Although we talked about it on Sunday, by the end of following week, she still couldn’t go to bed earlier, although she knew she should.

Time is limited for everyone, and time is the only thing that we can spend but can’t ‘earn’ it back. Fun time is essential for our lives but it’s not wise to pay a big price today for yesterday’s fun time. The reality is that we pay sooner or later, no matter what. While all scientific evidence points out that sleep quality is essential for human performance, most of people are aware of it but fail to follow properly.

Time to explore who you are, how your body performs and use that amazing body to achieve your goals in your life. Time is limited so prioritise wisely. We can’t do everything but certainly can do those things that matter the most. This skill does take time to shape up. Luckily, we shall still have time for this.

Dr. C. Richard Wu @ REEA Coaching

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