I was sitting around this weekend thinking about practice. I had just read an article that said that to get good at something one had to spend ten years practicing. Studies show that practicing is the one strong predictor of success in nearly any field.
Then I thought, "what am I practicing?". I'm practicing eating healthy. That's good. I'm practicing rapping. Good too. After a nice long pat on the back I thought of a more important question. What am I not practicing?
I realized that every time I practice a bad habit, I'm enforcing it and making it harder to break. I guess that's obvious, but for some reason it hit me like a ton of bricks. I see myself, down the road, being someone who keeps his living space really clean, pays bills as soon as they come in, gets ready fast in the morning, and doesn't procrastinate. Every day I continue to not do those things I'm making it harder to start doing them.
And what about this mystical 10 years? I'm sure that's accurate for things like sports, being experts on topics, ninja fighting, etc., but some things don't need to take that long. When people talk about personal development they talk about slow and gradual change. Why? I can be a proactive tidy person for one day - anyone can. And if I do something one day, I can do it the next day too. It's like when I started eating healthy, or when I went vegan. I just changed my beliefs on the matter, and that changed my actions.
In a second my beliefs changed to be repulsed by my previous behavior. Having a messy house wasn't about having a messy house - it was about clinging to old habits that detract from my life.
I got up, and did 6 loads of laundry - enough to wash every article of clothing I have. I cleaned up the boxes of stuff that I brought over when I moved in. I did all the dishes and scrubbed the sink. I went into my bathroom and scrubbed the counter and sink. I (with the assistance of the lovely Evan) hung some prints I had bought three years ago. I vacuumed everywhere, including the floor of the closet. I went through my computer and deleted old files, combined iterations of backups, and uploaded 4gb of important files to my online backup.
The weird part is that I was enjoying it. Every load of laundry made me happier. Organizing my closet made me feel good. Getting on the computer didn't appeal to me - I wanted to do all these things that I normally hated doing.
My new approach is to instantly develop new practices. When you decide that it's ok for a change to take years it WILL take years, or it may never get done at all. It becomes too easy to put it off. When you institute a new practice and demand that you stick to it from day one you feel empowered, excited, and immediately accountable. Try it!
Awesome post. I did a bunch of cleaning this morning before finding your blog. I have recently been re-examining why I like being a polyphasic sleeper and what I want to do with all the extra time. Thanks for getting me thinking about what I *want* to be practicing!
I think this is called "flow"...it is some sort of emotional state whereby you are so immersed in a task that it becomes pleasurable, even liberating.
If this practice thing realy works then I'm going to practice making babies with my girlfriend more! In 10 years we can probably make 10 to 12 babies. This is gonna be FUN!!!
I'd also love a forum! I'm eating healthy today because of you Tynan. It's Halloween and I was planning on eating all sorts of sweets, but I realized (even though it's just one day out of the year) I'd still be happier with myself if I kept on my diet instead.
It's awesome to hear that you guys are trying this out too. Please keep me updated with your progress. Sometimes I feel like I should start a forum so that we can all do this stuff together.
Wow, Tynan. I almost did not read this post.
Thanks, man. Well said. I'd type more, but I gotta get shit done. ;)
Wow, that was a really busy week. I'm not used to being busy at all - back in the day I had all the free time I could possibly imagine. Maybe it's about time to revisit polyphasic sleep? Here are some things that made me busy :
Work, of course. I've been waiting for weeks for a company to send us a new computer for our data center that lets me do fancy things. Last week it seemed like every day was going to be the day that it would be ready, so I would just wait all day for it to be set up. Then there would be some problem, and the process would repeat itself the next day. Finally this week it got all set up, so now I have more to do than I have time for. Yes! I love having things to do. It just so happens that this particular task is really fun too.
My car broke AGAIN. I have a 1994 S600, which is known to be one of the hardest (read : most expensive) cars to maintain. The reason is that it's a V12. Since it's basically two V6 engines stuck together, it also has two of a lot of components. Twice as many things to be broken. It also has a hydraulic suspension, which is what broke on mine. Of course this time I didn't take the car to the dealership.
A makeup post for yesterday, the seventeenth day of Overcoming Negativity.
It was a good day overall. Not too much went on, and I was dead tired. Things ended up panning out so that bedtime was at 8pm and I slept until this morning (the morning of Wednesday June 26)!
I'm starting to let things go. My room is getting messy, laundry needs to be done, my desk is piling up with papers and things that need to be attended to.
Probably a sign that I'm letting my mental faculties go. I'm just so burnt out right now. Damn.