The Art of Practice

Smart, intelligent, friendly, likable portrait of an executive business woman manager, advisor, agent, representative with glasses“Remember,” says my music coach, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent.”

She says this as I play a wrong note – for the third time. She corrects me and has me practice with her until the exercise results in better rendition of the song.

Practicing Incorrectly

We practice incorrectly all the time. Often this is the result of learned behavior from childhood and adolescence. We were rewarded for the way we practiced, but we were rewarded for practicing incorrectly.

We practice self-sabotage. When we practice self-sabotage it is because we were rewarded for this behavior when we were young. At the time, we didn’t understand it was self-sabotage. We just knew that if we put the reward giver’s needs before our own we would be praised. So we practice negative self-talk, we practice giving until we’re drained, we practice listening to other’s voices instead of our own.

As we find our own voice, as we listen and understand how our childhood has affected our practice, we develop an understanding of the wrong notes we are playing. When we know where our mistakes live, we can correct them.

Correcting negative behaviors is a time consuming task. However, correcting those practices is a necessary task. We must diligently practice correctly until we have a better rendition of ourselves.

Practice the following positive self talk. You can do it in your mind, whisper it quietly to yourself, or say it outloud, “I am empowered to practice corrective behaviors.”

Practicing Instead of Achieving

If practice makes permanent, then our art of practice will help us permanently set up positive habits and behaviors. That permanence only remains as long as we continue to practice. We are not setting ourselves up for perfection, perfection is a myth. We are setting ourselves up to play a better version of our song – our life.

It’s hard to stop a negative behavior cold, instead finding a new practice to replace the old brings mindfulness to our lives. Some practices we have found helpful in creating newer versions of our songs are pep talks, finding joy, and understanding our energy limits.

One way to practice pep talks is to follow inspirational speakers on social media. Interact with the message by reposting it with your own thoughts. Ask a question and have a conversation with a friend about those inspirational words. Cement them into today’s practice. Practice for permanency not perfection.

Practice finding moments of joy. One app we recommend is Presently. Each day a notification pops up asking you what you are grateful for that day. A simple sentence of gratitude helps us reflect upon the joyous moments of the day and captures over time all of the people and things we are grateful for. When we are having moments of sadness, we can look at our journal entries and reframe negative thinking.

Our energy, just like the amount of time we have in a day, is limited. As our energy is used, we become drained, tired, cranky, and this can affect our ability to maintain our positive self talk practice. Being mindful of our energy limits sets us up for a practice of success. We recommend taking a moment every morning to assess your energy levels. If they are a bit low at the start of the day you can build into your schedule breaks, and energy regenerating practices. If they are high at the beginning of the day, be sure to check in with yourself at lunch time and adjust your schedule as needed in recognition of your energy.

Practicing new positive behaviors is an art. Some days you will squeak out a wrong note. That’s OK! It happens to everyone. But when it happens, take a moment to check in with yourself. Is there a corrective practice that will empower you to finish out the day with a stronger version of your song?