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How to Get Good at Anything

Is there something you´ve been wanting to do but just haven´t gotten around to making it happen?

One of the reasons we have not followed through might be rooted in what science refers to as affective forecasting. Affective forecasting is the process of predicting one´s emotional state in the future. The problem is that we are not very good at predicting our future emotional states with any accuracy. We have a tendency to overestimate our feelings about future events.

What we tend to overestimate is the negative and we underestimate the benefits. “Therefore, we have a tendency to avoid things that we think will make us feel bad and pursue things that we think will make us feel good.” Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz, The Good Life and How to Live it: lessons from the World´s Longest Study on Happiness.

So often, we find ourselves talking about what it is we want to do but never do it because we are not sure how it´s all going to play out, and we worry about how we will feel in the end.

What if I´m not any good? What if it´s hard? What if I fail?

What if I can show you that you can be good. That despite the challenges, you can excel and that failure can be removed from the equation with a simple reframe.

What I want you to see is that you can get good at anything. Here are ten things you´ll need to get it done.

1. Choose what it is you want to do. Obvious right? But not so simple. It needs to be something that produces some level of excitement in you. It needs to be something that you are passionate about. The greater the positive emotion attached to it, the better. You´re more likely to put in the time and effort required for mastery if you are excited about it.

2. Set Clear and Concise Goals: In order to get good at anything you will need to define clear and concise goals. Having specific measurable objectives provides direction and motivation. Seeing the big picture is great but it can be overwhelming. Break your large goals into smaller manageable milestones to track your progress. Take time to celebrate each milestone before moving on towards the next.

3. Trust the Process: If your goal is the target, then the process is the means through which you achieve the target. The process is the scope and sequence. It´s the best steps, laid out in the right order, that leads you towards the achievement of your goal.

“We don´t rise to the level of out goals, we fall to the level of our systems.” James Clear, Atomic Habits

4. Consistent and Deliberate Practice: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer, “Practice, practice, practice!” This goes without saying. In order to get good at anything, one needs to practice. The question then is how much practice is necessary to achieve one´s goal? The answer varies depending on the goal, one´s aptitude, natural skills, and focus. If your goal is to learn to play twinkle, twinkle little star on the piano, the time and amount of practice will be different than a concert pianist with aspirations to play at Carnegie Hall. If you have a natural talent for music it may take less time. In other words, there are a variety of factors to be considered.

Before moving on, I´d like to address the myth of the 10,000 hours.

There is this idea known as the “10,000 Hour Rule” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “Outliers.” The rule is based on research done my psychologist K. Anders Ericsson. It basically says that to master anything, 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is necessary.

While the idea has merit there are factors to consider that alter the timeline.

Ericsson himself has argued that the 10,000 Hour Rule is a misinterpretation of his work. He emphasized that the number of hours required for mastery varies greatly depending on domain, the individual, and the quality of practice.

One of the factors that collapses the time is effective coaching. Working with a coach can provide guidance and feedback that can significantly accelerate the learning process.

5. Learn from the best: Study the greats. The masters. Technology has afforded us access to the greatest thinkers in history past and present, and it´s all just a click away. You can learn literally anything!! Choose your preferred method of instruction – books, videos, master classes, online retreats, podcasts – the list goes on. I´m learning how to play flamenco guitar through YouTube and an online course. Ole!!

Here is a link to a learning platform that I use often … … I´ve taken some great courses - for free!!! All from individuals who are leaders in their field. You are no longer limited to your location, or economic status.

Understand that getting good at anything is a journey. I hope that these five things listed above have given you opportunity to consider what it is you desire to do and perhaps the motivation to get started. Earlier in the post I mentioned ten things. You can learn about the remaining five in my next post.

Here´s to discovering a happier healthier you!

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