My question to you for today is, what do you practice? Relationships, a sport, an instrument or anything of the sort perhaps it’s a skill, a value, or something else. There are lots of things you can practice, and I think it’s important to practice. Personally find it deeply satisfying to have a practice, and what do I mean by that? I mean something you do just to do and try and get a little better.
I was first introduced to this idea unknowingly by The Simpsons, Principal Skinner, makes an offhand remark about playing a game only to try and beat your previous score. This did not resonate with me for quite some time. Until I started taking yoga class and was introduced to the idea of a daily practice. Now in day-to-day life, my exercises, and fitness routines I try and push for that one more. To get a little bit better each time you train. Anyways, it’s important to have a practice for a variety of reasons, and I will focus on a few which are key to success on the daily:
- Practice bleeds over into other areas of life.
- Recognition of achievement for oneself.
- Practice creates discipline.
These are just three examples of the benefits of practice and as I go into more details. Think about how in your own life you have employed practice to overcome a challenge. Perhaps this has been public speaking, or swimming or anything else. Practice is a key to succeeding, and we may not always be aware that we are practicing. Thus it is also important to be mindful, but I will write more on that later. Practice keeps us moving forward and one of the best benefits to practicing is the acquiring of cross-translational skills.
Everything is connected one of the greatest illusion of this world is that of separation. Thinks we think are separate are not. What this means for practice is that improvement in one area of life is going to lead to improvement in other areas, and although we may not always be cognizant of that fact. For my practices of gymnastics and piano some of the skills for each are cross applicable. My piano playing has allowed me to keep a “count” in gymnastics, 1-2-3-4 and equal ready-set-go-tuck on the trampoline. Gymnastics teaches flexibility and relaxation I order to make strong muscles. My piano playing improved by relaxing my shoulders and letting my muscles feel the music. This is only one example of cross applicable skills. There are an infinite amount of them I’m sure, and again we may not realize it but improvement in one area of life improves other areas too. Nothing is an island to itself. You may have many practices too; so I would encourage you to try and be mindful of how your struggle to learn in one area of life can lead you to success in another area.
For me personally, my practices include journaling my thoughts, practicing gratitude, working out, playing piano, yoga cooking, and a number of other things. Practice allows you to break through stagnation in life by having a tangible goal/achievement after practicing. Recognizing your achievements through practice can be a rewarding use of time.
Since I journal my thoughts most days I thought I’d include an example of my journal entry is below dated 11/30/15. For this I was practicing recognizing my achievements, because sometimes I can be too fixated on the next achievement rather than letting myself enjoy the fruits of my labors. This has been a huge test of my patience, as I want more for myself now, but I must be patient with myself and practices. I would encourage people to think of their successes in the last year, month, or week and make a list. You can practice being grateful for your body, mind and spirit for carrying you on an arduous journey. Of course a more focused practice is going to yield strong results; we have to start our journeys where we start them, not where we intend to be. This again ties back to being mindful of the present moment. I for one know I tend to live in future moments and the anxiety caused by this is unprecedented. Journaling my thoughts and continually practicing brings me back to center and the present moment.
As I look forward to 2016, I want to take some time to reflect on 2015 so I can understand my history and where I have been, and decide where I would like that to take me.
2015 was an incredible year moving past Chadron, but even then that experience helped me realize that I need to consider what it I want to do, and why that is. My experience leads me to understand that I shouldn’t sign up for anything just because it’s available. If it doesn’t fit into my plan then why do it?
I want to list some of my accomplishments for 2015:
-Started practicing Taekwondo
– Did a back flip on the trampoline
– did a back handspring
– I have been sober!!!!! For all of 2014 and soon all of 2015!!!
– nearly at a round off back handspring
– I have met some incredible people that have positively inspired me
– Acquired a new professional job that allows me a huge amount of flexibility and job security
– Continued practicing the piano mostly for fun, but even in my own self practice I have been making progress.
– I learned more about myself and what I want out of a relationship.
– I created a budget that has helped me stay, mostly, on track towards some of my financial goals.
– Currently have over $1,000 saved up!!!
– I read a couple of books
– Started a business plan, and will actively work towards developing it.
– I further understood my relationship with my parents, and sisters.
– I purchased a car, I have paid all my bills, I have debt but am actively managing it.
– I have impressed my coworkers and current boss, and am a respected member of the team!!!
– I went rock climbing, and overcame my fear of it at the same time!
– I have conquered a lot of my fears, and have developed a more confident personality as a result.
Fears included: rock climbing, back flip, back handspring, asking someone out on a date,
– I have made new friends with similar interest, and kept old friendships in tact.
– I have made my parents proud of me
– My inner voice is stronger and I have adopted a mind over matter mentality.
– I am working towards quitting smoking, although this itself is not an accomplishment, I have failed and tried again and soon I will achieve.
– I have learned a lot about my industry and am quite insightful on business practices.
– I have impressed myself with my tenacity even in the face of adversity.
– Adopting a positive attitude has lead me to a lot of great things.
– I am thankful that I consistently try, I try to inspire people, I try to make the most of any situation.
– I have expanded my professional network
– I have lost weight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
– I have gotten super fit!!! People are seriously impressed by you Kyle, and you are personally impressed by you.
– My fitversary is December 31st!!!
– Moved back to Colorado.
– Learned how to better handle conflicting relationships
– Became more patient with myself and as a result everything comes a lot easier for me.
– Inspired people to do better!!!
Wrote out this list
– More to come!
The list is of course somewhat long, but it serves me as a reminder of all that I am capable of, which is a lot, although it takes time and patience to achieve your goals.
The last point I’d like to make is that practice creates discipline for you; as a child learns that plants need food, water, sunshine, and care each day. Our goals and dreams need to be fed and nourished, too. If we aren’t touching them each day; then are we really trying to achieve? Doing something daily turns it into our habits and from our habits we continue to sculpt ourselves. Practicing something specific each day is going to yield its rewards, but just as a flower does not grow and bloom overnight. Neither do our dreams and goals it takes time and discipline. Discipline is perhaps the most important aspect of practicing something. Discipline means we strive to continue even when we do not want to. Certainly, I myself have had days where I do not want to go to the gym, but I begrudgingly drag myself – sometimes crying. Because I know that if let myself slip out of the discipline in which I have built, then my goals will never come to fruition. You, yourself, are actually disciplined and you may not know it. You probably do something every day, the same way, even though you may not want to. This is discipline. And if we circle back to cross translational skills acquired by practice. We can utilize our discipline in one area of life to improve in another area. We know that when we start something new we will struggle, but we have struggled before, is this time so different? No, probably not, daunting – yes of course, but we know we can succeed. We have done it before probably 1,000s of time without actually being aware of it.
To tie all of this together, practice is what you do when you want to get better at something. This article understates the benefits of practice, but highlights some key-points that I myself have experienced in developing my practice. Practice something improves all areas of your life even if you are not aware of it. Practice allows you to recognize the hard work you have put into something by providing tangible achievements or milestones. Lastly, practice will drive you to develop discipline in order to get better. All in all, it’s important to practice, but what you choose to practice is up to you.
Thanks for reading.