Practice Makes Progress

When you first start a new endeavor, those early successes can seem frequent and large. That’s natural, as the early days will be filled with plucking the low-hanging fruit, and it’s easy to double your skill level when you’re starting with almost none. Then, as you reach the intermediate levels, the progress can seem to slow down. You might be learning just as quickly – maybe quicker! – but in comparison to what you already know, it doesn’t seem as rapid. That can be demoralizing.

Some people hit that plateau and then quit because of it. They don’t feel as excited because they don’t perceive the learning as really happening in the same way.

If you want to avoid that and reinvigorate your desire, here’s a way to do so: for just a little bit, stop tracking your progress at all.

Keep practicing, keep doing. But if you used to have weekly evaluations, skip them for 3 months. Keep up your work, but don’t observe the outcome directly for a while.

When you come back in three months, the changes will seem huge. As you improve, you simply need longer stretches between evaluations to really capture the growth. By extending them, you can keep up their intensity.

When my daughter first started karate, I used to go to every single practice as well as every test. As she improved (and got older), going to the practices became less vital – and she needed to grow, do more things without the watchful eye of her father. So now I only go to the tests. And wow! I get to be blown away every time as her skill level jumps. Then I tell her so, and she gets reminded that while her progress can seem slow to her, comparing each lesson to the last one only a few days prior, she’s actually improving considerably each time.

So take a step back from evaluations (with a commitment on a day in the future to do the next one), and let yourself amaze yourself all over.

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