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Keeping a Disciplined Practice

by Kristen Andersen | Feb 26 | #practicemakesperfect

 

I don’t believe anyone is born with talent. Maybe one can be born with inclination, but talent is something one strives for. Talent is something achieved, not given.  Renowned psychologist and professor from Florida State University, K. Anders Ericsson, pioneered the concept that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. Here are four tips to help encourage a consistent practice:

 

1. Routine

Routine is critical to a sustainable schedule. If you cannot carve out a set time to practice your skill, create a “ritual”, an action or habit that will separate “regular time” from “practice time”. Maybe wear special slippers while you paint, or take a bath before every session, maybe play a special musical playlist dedicated specifically for your practice. Anything to help your brain make the connection “Now is the time to focus on my practice”.

 

2. A place for everything and everything in its place

An organized work space is a productive workspace, a messy room is a messy mind! These are some of my favorite mantras to keep me motivated to keep a tidy environment. The best way to keep a place organized is to literally have a designated place for everything so that you know when something is out of place. For example, before I had my coin jar, all of my loose change was just spattered all over my room. In old purses, pockets, drawers, dressers, etc. Now that I have a designated place for my coins, anytime I see a coin, I instinctively place it in the jar. If you are an artist, an organized work space will lead for a productive practice. You don’t have to waste 15 minutes finding your pencils when you know where they are. Also, it will be easier to clean up after your practice because you also know where to place all of your pencils. 

 

3. Accountability

Have a system in place to hold yourself accountable for your practice. Find a buddy who will help keep you motivated. Whether it’s for working out, practicing an instrument, learning a new language– having a buddy helps keep the flames alive. Maybe tell your friend that every Friday you two will meet to discuss the progress you’ve independently made during the week. Perhaps even a little competition can even be healthy!

4. Passion

Find your passion by asking yourself “Why?”; why is it important to you to master this particular skill? When you lose sight of the “why”, the practice becomes a chore– and chores are no fun! Perhaps upon asking yourself “why?”,  you may find that what you once did for enjoyment no longer brings you joy. And that’s okay! If it doesn’t bring you joy anymore, then why keep doing it? Knowing when to quit is also part of succeeding. One of my favorite C. S. Lewis quote is “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

 

I hope this helps whoever needs a little bit of encouragement… you are not “untalented”, you just need more practice! 

 

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