It takes a lot of reps to become good at something. How you set yourself up to practice, determines how good you become at doing those reps.
- Make a commitment. Then show up, every day.
- Loop in something you’re genuinely interested in. When you combine practice with something you’re deeply passionate about, it becomes easier to stay motivated. (For example, Jack Butcher of Visualize Value, combines his love of philosophy with his design exercises. His goal is to become a better communicator.)
- Add extreme constraints. Make most of your decisions up front (how long, how much, what medium). Spare yourself from the overwhelm of decision-fatigue later.
- Be willing to change your rules (and expectations). Just because you’ve set up a system, doesn’t mean it will always serve your growth throughout the process. Adapt, adjust, and bend the rules to make your practice more effective for your progress.
- Practice in public. Or any environment that allows for criticism and accountability. Practicing in private is too vulnerable to the excuses you can invent.
- Reflect. Refine. Repeat. What did you learn? What can you do better? Then…
- Fix it on the next one (or you’ll be stuck on the first one). Every step should be in a direction. No progress is made if you’re walking in place.
- Consume to fuel production. Intake of inspiration should be converted into energy for your production. Otherwise you’re wasting time on empty calories.
- Don’t push deadlines. Or your progress will push back.
- Don’t take it too seriously. It’s only practice.
Practice is how we get better. How we learn. How we grow. But sometimes practice sucks. It gets boring. You lose motivation. And you stop before you’ve made any noticeable progress.
I’ve tried to pick up many new skills over the years, and the ones that stuck with me are the ones I could stick to. The best periods of growth for me, involved the above ten points.
Whether it’s practicing on the job, or in your free time, your growth is determined by your passion, patience, and persistence.
Go and practice with purpose.
HT to Jack Butcher, who sat down with me to share his insights (especially 1, 3, and 8), and helped me gain clarity on what makes for effective practice.
About the Author
Matthew Encina is the chief content officer at The Futur, where he teaches about creativity, productivity, and how to have a sustained career doing what you love. He’s also creative director at Blind, and occasionally makes content on his personal channel.
Follow him everywhere @matthewencina
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