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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Power of Practice

Have you ever had moments where you wished to be like someone, perhaps there are some things in your life you wish you could do?

Well, I've had plenty of those.

Let's take a minute here and do a little self-reflection. Take some mental notes. What are some of the things you wish you could do? (It doesn't matter if it sounds silly).

Here are some (perhaps far-fetched) ambitions of mine.

I wished I could read Japanese and French.
I wished I could play the piano proficiently.
I wished I had a more elegant style in personal presentation.
I wished I could dance ballet at semi-professional level.
I wished I could be a proficient writer!
I wished I could cook healthy meals every day under 20 minutes.
I wished I could sew and design my own clothes.
I wished I could braid my hair beautifully.
I wished I could learn to put make up like a pro.
I wished I had a toned body.
I wished I were more flexible.
I wished I had better handwriting.
I wished I could do my own professional looking manicure.

No matter how big or small the goal is, you can achieve it with certain degree of success if you would just put in some practice!

A small effort daily goes a long way

The powerful thing about this is that even the least amount of effort goes a really long way if it is applied consistently, even if it is for about 5 minutes a day.

You just have to keep at it, and it does get better and better. You have to be patient with yourself.

Of course, the amount of success you may have depends on how much you put into it. The more you put into it, the quicker you'll get there.

But hey, don't let that discourage you. If you enjoy it, just do it (or practice) clumsily and don't think about how long it takes to acquire the skill. In fact, there are some things that you can't rush...or rather, there might not make much of a difference. Consistency and to always persist is key.

For instance, I wasn't very good at memorizing long dance combinations in my ballet class. I struggled with it tremendously. However, I simply kept at it. I kept turning up for class, regardless of whether I could do it. Out of the blue, I suddenly realized it wasn't such a big deal anymore.

Practice again, and again, and again, like me in the ballet studio! :)


Do not give in to self-doubt

I believe we are all naturally resistant to change or difficulty, some more than others. So sometimes, our minds will make up excuses.

"What's the point? I'll never learn how to read musical notes."
"I'm too old."
"I'm too busy. I can't afford the time."

I'm not asking you to make a huge commitment either. If you can, find an easy way to put five minutes of practice time into your daily routine.

For instance, I've long admired beautiful french braids and I've always wanted to wear them in my hair. However, I can only do a very simple one. Or rather, I could barely do a simple braid. It was messy, loose, uneven and downright a disaster for my hair.

I've always resorted to getting them professionally done at the salon, especially for important events.

However, recently I decided that I should get better at doing them. I would make myself to do a braid everyday. It only takes a few minutes. I'm not there yet, but I feel with every braid that I do, I am in greater command of my skill. It might take months for me to be able to do complicated and gorgeous braids but I'm getting there. I'm closer to my dream of wearing beautiful braids in my hair!

Another instance is playing the piano. I take a 45 minutes piano lesson every week. I told the teacher that it was my personal me-time, and I'm there to enjoy myself, and not put myself under the pressure to achieve anything. I just wanted to commit time to enjoy learning music.

I have a rather full schedule, working, completing (yet another) a teaching certification course, plus family, dancing (working out) and all that. I told my piano teacher that I may not be like her regular piano students who may put in an hour practice daily.

So on less busy months, I manage to do a 5-10 minutes practice every day or every other day, and on busy seasons, I don't get to touch my piano at all. During that 5-10 minutes of practice, I will just run through quickly and play the new piece I'm working on at least three times. I won't beat up myself for making mistakes or not getting it perfect. As day 2, day 3, day 4 goes by until I meet my teacher, I'm surprised at how much progress I make within a week, just practicing a song for 3 times each day.

During those seasons when I'm too busy and not touch the piano at all, I'm even surprised myself, at how I'm still progressing. It may not be as much as when I put in that tiny amount of practice, but the amazing thing is that I'm still progressing. I would play each song with my teacher a few times each session and by the end of the month, I am able to play 3 or 4 new songs. And the best part is as time goes on, your skills are compounded. They sometimes go through a 'growth spurt'!

That applies to every little goal, that seemed big goals at that time... such as obtaining flexibility like doing splits (when I'm a stiff adult - seemed impossible!). I didn't push myself really hard but practiced them imperfectly for 30 seconds a few times a week. It took me a year to get them. It sounds long but I wasn't counting. That was because I kind of gave up and thought that I will never get there but did them anyway. But to my amazement, I did manage to do what I thought was impossible.

Another little unexpected goal...applying eye-liner evenly (though I still feel there is room for improvement). I'm still practicing that everyday!

Harness the power of practice

I find tremendous power in this....in the simple act of practicing.

It doesn't matter if you don't have much time, just a little bit goes a long way!

And come to think about it, there are some things you can't rush. If I added all the little 2 minutes I took to practice my splits, maybe it will be equivalent to spending 12 hours to achieving them. (I calculated 2 minutes x 365 days in a year). Even if I took a day off work and spent 12 hours trying to achieve my splits, most probably I could not achieve them. Similarly, I believe it is the same with the piano. I could not achieve learning to sight-read well if I crashed-practiced it for 10 hours each day for a week.

There's something about consistent practice. It is as though your body needs some downtime, during sleep, and something processes in your body and brain.

THUS.....

knowing that there is tremendous power in practice just opens up the possibility of dreams, of what I may achieve.

I then ask myself, what do I want to get good at? I'll put in a few minutes a day doing just that, and maybe in a month, or a year or 5-10 years, I'll have that in the bag!

Now just imagine, that over a x period of time, you'll be able to have a polished accent, good posture, dress elegantly, walk gracefully, cook gourmet meals, be well-read, write in Spanish, understand Mandarin, become fit and toned, knit a sweater, do your own nails...what else would you like to be able to do?

So, what would you like to get good at?

Get started practicing it! Even if it is only for 1 minute. Do it once or twice daily...and report back! :)

Have a great week!

Love, Eunice xoxo

15 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Great article, thank you, very helpful.

      Rachel

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  2. This completely makes sense. I did it with my calligraphy....duh....I will apply the same mojo to my nails!!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I feel motivated now. Thank you ♡

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  4. Loved this post! It was very inspiring!

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  5. I always love your posts Eunice. Thanks so much for this one today, just what I needed to read! You are always so spot on with your comments, I look forward to them, and they brighten the week. Enjoy the next few weeks with your learning and curious mind. Nina...

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  6. Your newsletters and articles are such a delight to read. Take some time for yourself during the holidays. Your subscribers will wait to hear from you next time whenever that is. Thank you for today's advice about practice. I am making my list of things I want to learn or change and devoting at least five minutes to each one on a daily basis.

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  7. Yep great reminder! Practice makes perfect!

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  8. Good encouragement for me. I know what I want to accomplish, but I drag my feet in doing it. Practice in small increments can make a difference.

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  9. Thanks for this great article Eunice.

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  10. I absolutely love your article, Eunice! These days self-doubt has become a real issue for me and giving up, a very tempting option, but this article has inspired me and has encouraged me to keep going! Thank you so much!

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  11. This is a very nice reminder for us all. I will commit to practicing my French again.

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  12. Such an encouraging article, Eunice; thank you for sharing this. It is so much less overwhelming to step back and look at the big picture of accomplishing a major goal one small step at a time!

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  13. Thanks Eunice! It's great to know that I can master any skill of my desire with each little practice :)

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