We’re talking about practice. Practice makes what? If you answered perfect, then unfortunately you and I disagree. Think about this for a second - if you’ve practiced a particular skill one thousand times with terrible technique, how will that skill look after the one thousandth repetition? Chances are terrible, right? I’m a believer in the theory that practice makes permanent. Only deliberate and focused practice done with repeated precision can get you close to perfect. Anything else is just a shot in the dark, working aimlessly and hoping for something good to happen. Here are a few ways to steadily work toward improvement in any venture that you decide to take on.
Like most people entering a new year, we’ve identified a few goals in particular that we’d like to tackle. But first, you must realize that it will take a significant amount of effort to start. Bad habits are extremely tough to break and will require a large amount of willpower. Whether it’s getting up earlier, dropping a few pounds, or learning a new move, all these things are unfamiliar to you. Because of this, your body will more than likely say no. It’s not used to the demand of what you’re now asking it to do, and it may not immediately respond. But if it’s important to you, stick with it. Decide at this very moment -- how much do you really want to make this change. Sacrifice is necessary, that means both doing more and doing less, sometimes unwillingly.
The one thing you can always control in any situation is your attitude. Attitude is defined as a way of thinking or feeling about something, typically reflected in a person's behavior. Try to remain positive despite circumstance. Bringing an upbeat outlook to an otherwise mundane activity can be critical to development. Remember, you’re not always going to feel excited about what you do, but the attitude you bring is a personal choice. Choose to be pleasant to be around, easily coachable and encouraging to others trying to reach their goals.
There are no shortcuts on the road to success. Be sure to stay focused to prevent yourself from becoming distracted from the task at hand. Each day you’ll find that there will be plenty of excuses readily available for why you should quit, how it’s too hard, and why you’re not worthy of achieving your goals. Ignore them, and steer clear of anything or anyone that isn’t helping you progress. It can be a lonely road attempting to live an exceptional life. It takes courage, discipline, and the willingness to stand apart from the norm. Steady your aim at your goal, and don’t take your eyes off the target.
Only you are responsible for your success. If you’re counting on some sort of external factor to keep you motivated, chances are you’ll fall short of your goals. On tough days, your commitment to attaining greatness has to compensate for your lack of desire. Are you willing to stay committed long after the initial fire flickers? Take a moment to realize it's not going to be fun every day. Living an exceptional life is difficult and sometimes very lonely. Are you willing to stay true to the course when nobody's watching? No one should have to babysit you toward your goals. Pursue your dreams intently even when you’re not getting recognition for it.
Win the day. Anything wonderful and worthwhile takes time to create. Sometimes looking ahead to the “big picture” can be overwhelming and cause individuals to think that the task ahead is just too great for them to achieve. As the old adage goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Each day offers a brand new bundle of unique opportunities to improve on the previous one. Make your next meal a healthy one, put your phone down during your next dinner, stay after practice to work on new technique. Then repeat. Forever. Focus on doing your best at your very next chance. The longer the amount of days in a row that this happens, the better chance you will have to replace your old habits with new ones.
You must believe wholeheartedly that everything you’re doing is helping you get closer to your dreams, that all of the effort is working, or someday will. We live in a results-driven society -- one that thrives on immediate results. You could be on the brink of a breakthrough, but just not on your schedule. How long are you willing to work and sacrifice before you see the results of your labor? Stay the course and rely on your faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Success isn’t always guaranteed, but improvement is.
By Jordan Burroughs
NCAA Champion, World Champion, Olympic Champion