Over the last 18 years I figured I've spent around 3000 hours poolside.
Seriously, I did the math. My little swimmer started swim team at four years old and went year-round until she was seventeen years old. I tried to be really conservative when coming up with my figure so I didn’t even factor in swim meets, just practice.
I also didn’t add the hours spent on the soccer field sidelines with Brady, the year I suffered through cub scouts, and the two years I was a pee-wee cheer coach.
And I want to be very clear this is not a whiny post about wanting that time back for myself. No, I loved it and would do it all again…well, except that year of cub scouts. Eagle Scout moms are saints in my book. 😇
This is a post about practice.
Why is it that we believe our children need practice (soooo much practice), but we don’t allow ourselves to practice when we start new things?
I often have conversations with clients and have to remind them that starting a new routine, a new lifestyle, or a new class all takes practice. I try to have them lean into the flexibility of learning and not get ridged about rules and “doing it right,” but to allow themselves grace and time to learn and live into a new being. They nod politely and agree on the outside, but I feel the resistance. I sense them fighting what they want to be true and what they know to be true. They want to have it all mastered today. They know it will take time.
We don’t like practice.
I don’t care for practice either, if I’m being honest with you.
But here’s the “ah-ha!” moment I had recently that I hope helps you.
We practice all the time, every day.
The problem is we are practicing old habits, old thinking, old emotional loops from our past experiences.
Think about it! What do you think about most? Most of us spend literally HOURS a day replaying, reciting, and “practicing” past habits, identities, or even conversations. Maybe it was a conversation with a person that didn’t go well. Maybe that conversation was yesterday, and we’re still swirling, maybe that conversation was years ago.
I know for years I practiced telling myself I wasn’t smart. And guess what? I went around looking for proof. Not consciously, but every time I would do something “wrong” my mind was looking for that proof and would use that "proof" to solidify my belief that I was not smart. After practicing that for years I found proof every day. You always find what you're looking for.
What changed, or is changing? I realized that it was nothing more than practice in a wrong direction.
When you know you’re going a wrong direction it’s up to you, in this case meaning me, to change that direction. New destinations need new maps, new roads, new practices.
I’m spending time each day cultivating the feeling of being smart. I’m getting quiet and feeling what it feels like to be smart. I’m spending time thinking back on the markers in my life that prove to me that I can and have made smart decisions. And guess what? I’m noticing them more often. It’s also building my confidence. You make better decisions when you feel you can depend on yourself to make smart decisions.
What’s happening? My practice is making progress. It’s not making perfect and it never will - that's just a saying. I’m ok with that. I am not perfect. But I am capable of limitless progress! Oh!!!! Just made that up….love that. This is why writing is so therapeutic to me.
Let me say that again…for both of us. We are not capable of perfection. Not in a sense of perfection being something we achieve. I DO, however, believe that we are perfection…we just don’t know it or believe it, most of us.
But in the sense of achievement – I am not capable of perfection, but I am capable of LIMITLESS PROGRESS!
But guess what you've got to do to progress? You got it. You’ve got to PRACTICE! I’ve got to practice. And just like all of those hours Chloe spent pushing against the water to condition her muscles to be a great swimmer, I have to condition my mind to be a great practitioner of progress. We practice, and practice, and practice, and nothing. Then we practice, and practice, and practice, and then breakthrough. And that cycle repeats itself.
We have to begin to believe that practice always leads to better. We would tell our kids that if they had a bad practice. If your child got in the car after practice upset about their performance that day, what would we say? We’d tell them they will do better next time and assure them that they CAN do better. We would tell them that’s why it’s called practice.
So here is what I want you to do – join me in practicing. Some days practice will rock. Some days practice will suck. Both of those days practice will do the work of progress as long as you don’t stop.
What do you need to practice? I’d love to hear from you, comment below and tell me.
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Jen Mulford is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and champion for personal freedom.