“Practice makes perfect” is a phrase I have heard many times through my life and in as much as I don’t believe in perfection, I believe in practice. I believe practice makes things easier and makes the quality of any output much better as time goes by. There is so many reasons to practice. Be it that you are practicing to be a better friend, practicing a certain skill you have interest in or just generally practicing how to be a human being / adult, the concept and the reasons to dedicate yourself are the same. This is what I will be writing about today, the why to practicing.
The dictionary defines practice as repetition of an action to improve a skill. There is a Japanese phrase “Kaizen” which could be directly translated to continuous improvement and is based on the idea that small, ongoing positive changes can reap significant improvements.
I also came across an interesting concept for a more dedicated form of improvement know as “deliberate practice” This concept is discussed by author and professor of psychology Angela Duckworth in her book “GRIT”. She teaches that we should go beyond simply dedicating more time to a task, rather we should strive to improve specific weaknesses.
There are obvious reasons why practice is important, for example at your work place, it would be hard to convince your employer to keep you around if after an year of working in the same position you are having the same degree of difficulty achieving the same goals. It would even be burdensome to you if you aren’t getting any better at something you do everyday. Practice also helps us feel better about ourselves when you look back and see that a certain challenge you couldn’t handle a few months ago is now done with so much ease.
Practice also ups your skill, this means you produce more valuable output as you continue your practice journey. You even get to a point where you can monetize the output and this is definitely an amazing place to be. Practice gives you more confidence as everyone of us inherently likes to be good at something. You also get to figure out faster and simpler ways to do things giving you more time to do other things.
How ever much practice is important, it is also quite hard to do. It requires dedication and commitment. Wishful thinking can never get you closer to your goals. You can’t turn your body to your dream body without putting in the work and effort. You know what they say, “if it was easy, everyone would have done it.” So if you have an interest you are trying to develop or are passionate about something, what stands between you and achieving it is dedication and practice.
As I see it, there are two options of how to dedicate yourself. You either learn to love the burn or enjoy the challenge. Enjoying the challenge is an interesting concept to me because all of us prefer to stay within our comfort zones. For me, I learn to love the burn, then with time I have noticed, I get to a place of enjoying the challenge.
A few months ago I decided to start working out to improve my flexibility, first I took measures to ensure I commit to it (I paid for a three month plan) then as I started off, I relied on the “new year’s energy”. With time, that faded off, when the muscles started to feel the stretch and I had to resist the couch and go to my workout spot every morning. So I learnt to love the burn, as I worked out and felt all those negatives, I pictured the wonderful results that were coming. Right now, I’m happy every time the work out takes a little more from me than it did the day before. When I rise from the mat all sweaty, or the lady in the video does something I can’t imagine myself doing, I’m actually excited. I have learnt to enjoy the challenge!
This doesn’t mean that I won’t get days that I still don’t feel like going to the mat or there won’t be any new challenges that will arise. All I have to do is continue to flourish in the discomfort, learn from what works and what doesn’t. That’s what practice is all about, it’s continuously striving to achieve and learning how to do it even through adversity.
Other than just practice, it is important to have a type of measurement of your practice and what you reap from each practice. That is the concept of deliberate practice. Here you break down your major goals into bite sized tasks and consistently work on finding ways to improve these areas. This is the kind of practice that gets you from one level of your expertise to the next. And to be an expert in any field, you have to continuously improve.
I gave an example that relates to fitness and maybe that’s not something you have interest in, but as I mentioned before, the concept is the same. I am also on this journey as a writer and this too requires practice and dedication. My aim is to continue improving the skill as time goes by. I keep pushing myself beyond what is comfortable for me. I write, I review, I share my work for criticism and I work on improving. I read to gain knowledge so I have something to share and work on building a blog that is engaging.
I know as you read through this post there is something that came to mind that you are interested or passionate about improving in your own life. I hope you have the courage to pursue it relentlessly. Join me next time as I will be sharing some tips on how to build a habit of “deliberate practice” that applies for any skill or interest you may have. I hope to see you then 🙂