We get good at what we practice

Last summer, I shared with you my desire to improve my golf game. (Read the post here.) I made a commitment to devote time, energy, and resources toward improving my skills by enrolling in golf lessons.

One year later, it is time to assess my progress. My game has improved, but I have not yet achieved the personal goal I set for myself—to break 90 in a round.

The instructor provided me with the tools to take my game to the next level. So why was my improvement less than expected?

The answer came to me in an “aha” moment as I watched a TEDxTalk by Willoughby Britton titled, “Why A Neuroscientist Would Study Meditation.”  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR8TjCncvIw)

Britton explained that the neuroplasticity of our brains allows it to change with our experiences. The takeaway: “We get good at what we practice.”

Aha! That was the missing ingredient to my progress!

Our desire to develop a new skill requires that we replace old habits with new habits. To develop the neural networks necessary for a new skill to become natural and effortless, repetitive exercises are required.

Intermittent attention is not enough. Regular, mindful, and focused time to train the brain is a must!

Like golf, our speaking habits can be modified and changed by allowing our brain the opportunity and time to learn something new.

Start a New Habit Today

How can you fit this type of training or practice into your daily schedule? Here are some suggestions:
Choose a specific time to practice each day. Schedule your practice as you would any other appointment. Set a daily reminder or alert and make the appointment with yourself a priority, but be flexible. If you have to adjust the time to accommodate other commitments, do so.

  1. Schedule short blocks of time.
    Just 15-20 minutes will allow you to maintain awareness and attention as you train. If your schedule allows, schedule two or three blocks of time throughout the day.
  2. Select a goal or focus for your practice each day.
    Choose a specific sound or speaking skill that you are developing and devote all your attention and effort to creating the change you desire.
  3. Maintain your awareness of the selected skill throughout that day.
    With this focus you will begin to utilize the new skills in real-time speaking situations as you form new habits.
  4. Keep a practice log or journal.
    Monitor your attention to training, goals, and impressions. Set your intentions for the next day or the week ahead.
  5. Be patient!
    Change happens over time. Acknowledge your daily positive changes as you develop new habits.

Make time for yourself. 
Learn something new.