Practice is not about reaching a destination. I heard “practice makes perfect” early on, when I was taking piano lessons back in my teenage years. Practice was a means to an end; practice a music piece until it was known. Then I wouldn’t need to practice it anymore, except to perform it or refresh it in my memory. I was thinking in terms of destinations, not process.
Think in terms of milestones, not destinations. As I got older, “good enough” trumped “impossible perfection” as a goal. I learned enough of a skill to get a thing done, but no more. Process was ignored, and reaching the destination was still everything. For a lot of tasks, that’s all that’s needed, but I wasn’t mastering anything. Mastery was for people with true talent, I thought, which left me out.
Growth vs. fixed mindset. I’ve spent most of my life in that fixed mindset; a mindset that says we are as talented or smart as we’ll ever be. But that’s a lie. We are finite beings, but we can expand our knowledge and skills beyond what they are now. We can learn and master new things. We can grow. Generally speaking, we can all master something. This is a growth mindset; we can all learn, grow, and improve.
A new definition of practice. So practice has a new meaning for me: to regularly perform a skill or activity, especially with the goal of improving. It’s about process now, and milestones, but not destinations. It’s about the doing, the done, checking progress, and doing the next thing. That’s how we grow. That’s how we build mastery.
And that’s how I’ll build mastery in the new year. In my business, my writing, my woodturning, my life. What will you be practicing?