My husband bought this crazy exercise program with the brainstorm I’d try it with him. I’m more athletically challenged than anything else, and I laughed at him when he suggested it. There was no way.
Practice Makes You Better
He bought the DVD set anyway, along with weights, yoga mat, resistance bands and chin-up bar – the whole set up. I sat back as he started the program, sweating, huffing and puffing.
“It’s so much fun,” he told me. I thought he was crazy. “Just try it one day,” he said. “If you don’t feel better, you don’t have to do.”
“Fine,” I said. This will last like five minutes.
I got my workout clothes on, pulled my hair back, not really thinking I would work up a sweat. After all, I’d only be out there for a few minutes.
But an hour passed before I realized it. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done – trying to do weights and crazy exercises. Afterward, I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be, and I felt really good. So I kept at it. Everyday. By the next week, I was able to do push-ups (small ones of course – does a few inches count?). And I could reach my toes without pulling my muscles. I hadn’t done that since college. Yikes.
By the end of those three months, I could run further than I’d ever run before, do more sit-ups than ever before. When we push through the hard parts, we grow into people we never knew we could be. We become stronger than we ever thought possible. And we achieve the dreams we thought were beyond our grasp.
The Myth About Practice
Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. I know. Figuring out the things you need to do to make you better is a hard task. But you’ve got mentors and friends to help you. So, ask them, what do I need to do to get better?
There’s this crazy myth about practice floating around out there. It says you have to spend hours every day, repeating boring stuff to learn it. To get good at it.
For the first decade of my musical life, I adhered to this myth. I know, sadly I admit it. No one ever told me that practice could be fun. And that it didn’t have to be so hard. I’d spend hours rehearsing music, starting at the beginning and fudging my way through difficult passages. Then I’d do it all over again. And again. And again.
Sure, I got better and improved as a musician. But it took forever! Who really has hours to waste, hoping they’ll get better?
Practice Smarter, Not Harder
Then my college professor taught me the secret to efficient practice: Practice Smarter, Not Harder.
She showed me how to work on the parts that were difficult. She gave me specific steps to take during the limited time I had. How to work on smaller chunks of music. How to plan my practice time for maximum results. And how a few minutes of fundamental practice each day would build my skills.
As I pursue my dream of writing, I find this same rule is true. You have to hone your craft and practice it everyday…but it doesn’t have to be boring or hard.
So what does that look like? For me, it means setting aside writing time everyday, keeping a writing log. I practice free-writing. Blog weekly and journal. I also practice some form of writing technique regularly, such as working on better dialogue and improved plotting. There are hundreds of great writing books with tons of helpful exercises.
I also make sure to include time to write fun things – the stuff that keeps my brain awake at night, the stuff that made me fall in love with writing. Oh, and I read a lot.
We’re always practicing for something. Even right now, in this moment. The question is, are you practicing things that will move you closer to your dream? Or are you practicing a legacy of waiting and wishing your dream would come to you?
If you’re truly passionate about your dream, why not give it a try? You might find once you start practicing, you won’t want to stop. And it may be more fun than you think.
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing that makes you good.”~Malcolm Gladwell
What ways have you found practice to help you in pursuing your dream?
Check out the rest of the series, Catch Your Dream: