Practice Makes Perfect

As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” This timeless piece of advice is the heart of mastery and success. It is the path of all masters. Even after mastery is reached, practice still retains its importance as it sharpens and maintains the skills of the practitioner. Practice is harder than it sounds. It requires fortitude, consistency and fortitude on the individual’s part. However, I assure you that you will find the pain well worth it many years later. It’s similar to going to the gym. Most of us don’t like going to the gym, but we’ll be glad later that we went. The hardest part of practice is getting yourself to do it. In this article, we will discuss the importance of practice and how you should go about doing it. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter!

The Importance of Practice

#1: Practice Sharpens Your Existing Skills

If there is one thing that your brain is good at, it’s forgetting. The mind, an efficient machine as it is, gradually deletes memories that have been unused for a certain period of time. On the other hand, the brain strengthens retrieval pathways that have been used repeatedly. When retrieval pathways are triggered repeatedly, they become more efficient and stable. These neural pathways can become so efficient that they can be triggered without thought. In other words, these memories become part of your subconscious mind. This is exactly how famous chess masters like Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen are able to execute perfect moves with blinding speed while staying calm. This is the end goal of practice – to develop the ability to execute a series of specified actions perfectly and with minimal effort. This also prevents you from forgetting what you have learned.

#2: Practice Is An Unavoidable Part Of Learning

It is in my humble opinion that not a single human being was and will be able to ride a bike fluently on the very first try. In fact, many of us actually fell down. This is similar to learning other skills. We may not get it on the very first attempt, but with repeated practice we gradually become familiar with the subject matter at hand. We may even be able to spot and learn from our mistakes in the process. Gradually the neural pathways involved are slowly refined and performance increases.

Staying Motivated

Failure is inevitable during the process of practice. There will be times when you feel completely demotivated due to a temporary setback. Here, it is of paramount importance that you push through. There is no other way. When faced with failure, keep going. Of course, if you feel tired, do take a break. Just remember to continue practicing the next day. However, if you feel that the skill you are currently learning is not for you, you have the option to drop it. It’s better to learn something that makes you happy. Below are some tips to keep yourself motivated.

  • Give yourself a break if you feel tired! After all, humans are not machines. Practicing for too long will lead to burnout and fatigue.
  • Practice mindfulness and be aware of your thoughts. When faced with setbacks, try to avoid grumbling or throwing tantrums. Instead, think rationally and find out what went wrong. Then figure out how you can stop making the same mistakes.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day. Many professionals of different arts and fields had to go through years and years of practice to attain the level of mastery they possess today. You will not see improvement overnight. Instead of focusing on the short term, focus on the big picture. Ask yourself what you want to achieve in the end and draw up a plan to work on it.
  • Stay consistent. Memories will fade if not utilised. Come up with a plan to practice in regular intervals. Always make sure that you make it for each and every practice session, regardless of how you are feeling on that particular day. It may not feel great now, but you will be rewarded handsomely in the future.

Conclusion

While practice is hard, its rewards are plenty and bountiful. I hope that this short article gave you an idea of why you should practice and how you should go about doing so. If you did enjoy this article, do consider giving it a like! Comment your thoughts down below! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more articles.

Solving Boredom

Ironically, let’s start off with the boring meaning of “bored”. According to Google, it is “feeling weary and impatient because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.” There you have it. Boredom comes from a lack of interest or enjoyment. It certainly feels dreadful when we’re doing something we don’t like or when we have nothing fun to do. Sometimes, boredom can even give birth to a form of laziness. By far, boredom is the worst enemy of productivity. So how do we address this void? In this article, we will discuss how we can solve boredom and bring purpose to whatever we do. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter!

#1: Take A Break

Most often, we find ourselves focused on something for long periods of time because we tell ourselves we must complete a certain objective as soon as possible. The problem is that the mind will get bored of something pretty quickly when it is not given a break. When you were a kid, did you find yourself munching on chocolates only to find yourself absolutely tired of it after a couple of chocolate bars? It’s the same logic. The brain craves variety and excitement. For that reason, it is extremely beneficial to take breaks from time to time. If you have already read for an hour, reward yourself with a television show. Yes, you could read on for hours to come, but doing so would be counterproductive as your mind would get tired and gradually lose interest in the subject matter at hand. However, if breaks are not an option, you can also choose to alternate between tasks. For example, you may want to read for 1 hour, then do household chores for 30 minutes, before going back to reading again.

#2: Find Something You Enjoy

This step requires some reflection on your part. There is no definitive answer to this. Say, perhaps you like jogging in the park. You could choose to go jogging whenever you feel bored. The key is to find something that would lighten your heart and mind and allow you to relax. Just remember not to go overboard with this. Often, many spend too much time “relaxing” and less time on necessary tasks. For this reason, I recommend that you create a timetable to organise your day to day schedules. However, it is even better if you can integrate it with your work. In other words, this means that you can do that thing you enjoy at the same time as you work. For instance, you could listen to music while you complete your homework or sip some coffee while cleaning up your email.

#3: Make Boring Stuff Fun!

Sometimes, all it takes is some little tweaks to the way we do or view something. To make something more interesting and engaging, you could either choose to “gamify” the activity or make it visually appealing. These are just some suggestions – there are no rules to dictate how you should go about doing this! Since the brain gets bored of something relatively quickly, you can change the way in which something is presented every session. For instance, you could create mind-maps for your school notes today and utilise flashcards tomorrow! This mix and match creates something new for your mind every session, thus removing the element of predictability and monotony. Likewise, if you find running boring, you can motivate yourself by buying a smart watch (don’t splurge on this) which tracks your calorie burn count and distance travelled. In fact, some apps award you points for running a certain distance or burning a certain amount of calories. Meanwhile, if you would like to know how you can create habits effectively, check out my article here: https://bestofwrite.com/2020/11/30/how-to-build-a-habit-effectively/

Conclusion

Boredom is something that we experience quite regularly, and I hope that this article will be useful in your quest to eradicate it. If you have not followed me yet, do consider doing so now and subscribe to my newsletter too! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more articles!

Further Reading

Keys To Attaining Success

As the famous contemporary author John C. Maxwell states, “The secret to your success is determined by your daily agenda.” Our everyday choices and actions determine whether or not we will attain success in the future. Success is not something that falls from the sky, nor is it something that we can merely purchase with money. Success is a journey and it requires sacrifice – the sacrifice of one’s time, energy and mind to a cause. It requires consistency, motivation and most importantly, hard work. However, many give up in the middle of their journeys to success, citing numerous reasons and excuses such as “I don’t have time!” or “It’s too difficult! I simply lack the talent to succeed.” With this in mind, is it possible for us, mere mortals from different walks of life, to ever obtain success? The answer is a resounding “YES!!” In this article, I will discuss how each and everyone one of us can achieve success, even though it may seem impossible for many of us. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter!

#1: Discover and Follow Your Passion

What is it that brings you the most joy and satisfaction? Solving problems? Playing Chess? Writing? The point is, you must discover this passion and feed it. Of course, life is not as simple as it seems. For many adults and teenagers, with so many responsibilities and little time, chasing this passion may seem a rather daunting task. As a result, they will find their passions waning with time and eventually, these inner flames will die out, never to be found again. Meanwhile, many are not willing to give up their current jobs and careers, which they have taken up solely for the sake of financial sustenance, clinging to the belief that their passions will never be profitable or appreciated. The truth is, if you do not find and pursue your passion, you are doomed to suffer all your life. You will find life meaningless and find yourself bombarded by perpetual boredom, and when you finally realise, in hindsight, that you should have followed your passion from the beginning, it would be too late. So, I implore you, unearth your passion and follow it to the end. Learn to give up the limiting beliefs that plaque your mind day and night. Success and money will come in due time, as long as you dedicate your time and effort consistently. However, do note that this necessitates a degree of sacrifice. To illustrate this, let us study what Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, did to pursue his passion and achieve success. When Bill was a teenager, he found himself to love software and programming. He dreamt of a future where every home would have a computer and wanted to be at the forefront of this revolution. When he was 18 years old, he enrolled in Harvard University. However, he realised that it would only hold him back – he wanted very much to start a company of his own. Consequently, he made the most remarkable and astonishing decision of his life, and that was to drop out of Harvard, which in retrospect, would be the pivotal moment of Bill’s life. Now at this point you might be thinking, “Is Bill crazy or something? Harvard is so hard to get in and he’s just throwing it away like that?” First things first, this isn’t telling you to drop out randomly and spontaneously from university. In Bill’s case, he considered and concluded that his passion had to take precedence and that enrolling at Harvard would only hinder his path to success. What I am trying to say is that, you must be ready to make the bold decision to give up everything you have planned to make way for your inner calling. Do not let external factors and fear dictate what you should or should not do. Remember, the willingness to sacrifice anything and everything for one’s passion is what sets successful people apart. I assure you, only by doing so will you be free and contented.

#2: Work Hard And Be Consistent

Once you have identified and locked on to your passion, you must work on it day and night. There is simply no other way. This part of the journey is the hardest and many give up in the middle of this phase. Here, you might not see big improvements and every practice session may feel mundane. You must be careful not to think that you aren’t getting anywhere. The truth is, you are improving everyday, it’s just that you can’t see it! Let’s say everyday you improve by 1%. 1% might not feel a lot, but after 365 days, you would have improved 365%! Of course, your improvements cannot be calculated and even estimated by such crude numbers and percentages, but you get the idea. Everything will seem slow at first, but after much consistent practice, the law of accelerating returns kick in and you will soon find yourself improving much faster. Let me explain what this “law of accelerating returns” means here. In the early stages of learning a skill, your skill level is, of course, low. Due to a lack of knowledge and familiarity with the field, more time is spent on trying to understand the subject at hand and the durations of your practice sessions are limited. At this point in time, trying to practice for a few hours at a time will only result in you becoming burnt out and more confused. However, with daily practice and learning, your knowledge and skill increases and thus you are able to practice for longer durations and with much more focus. With this increased practice, your skill level and knowledge increases much further, and the quality of your practice sessions increases as well. This in turn gives birth to a never ending, exponential cycle of learning and improvement. Now, the aim of this phase is to reach the point where even hours of practice would seem inadequate and effortless. Reaching this sweet spot will allow your creativity to flow in ways you’ve never seen before and it is at this point that you will find mastery. (If you would like to know why you should never give up easily, check out my article here: https://bestofwrite.com/2021/01/14/never-give-up-easily/)

#3: Replacing Negative Perspectives With Positive Ones

Yes, hard work is important and all, but how do you sustain yourself through this journey? How do you control your emotions? It’s all about your perspective. Ask yourself what failure means to you. Is it the end? Does it mean that you are incapable? The answer to all these questions is a stark NO. Failure just means that you have to work harder. All you have to do is to switch your perspective. Robots and machines do not whine when they experience failure. Failure to them is just a sign that their database is not wide enough and that much more data is needed to increase their success rate. Even machines experience failure on a daily basis, let alone human beings. The only difference is that machines do not attach any emotional significance to failure – they just move on and become better with time. The cycle of learning and failure is the very foundation of learning, even in artificial intelligence. But of course, we are not machines and we are vulnerable to the negative thoughts that come from our very own minds. To overcome this, you have to change your mentality towards the field you are working on. For instance, instead of seeing a Chess match as a battle between two parties, a better way to view it is that Chess is a puzzle battle – the player which solves it the most accurately wins. Failure would not mean that you are better or worse than the other player. It just means that you did not solve the “puzzle” accurately enough! Whether it is you are a Chess player, an athlete, a writer or mathematician, it is essential to learn to work like a machine, celebrate like a human.

Conclusion

Success is no doubt a long journey that requires much sacrifice, hard work and grit. However, it is not impossible to attain. Whenever you experience failure, just be like a clock. Just keep moving.

Meanwhile, are there any other factors of success that I have not mentioned in this article? Do comment your thoughts below!

Further Reading