Day 21

Video transcription

Some days, and maybe even weeks, your practice will just go out the window. Of course it will; you’re not a machine, you’re a human being, and its not a habit, it’s a practice.

There are similarities between building a practice and learning a musical instrument or song; rhythm is implicit in both of them. When you first start out with an instrument or a new song the learning curve is steep. There’s so much to take in that getting tripped up is inevitable, and you lose your rhythm.

The rhythm itself is simply an outcome of having developed a degree of mastery, and it comes with practice. But before the mastery, we are in that uncomfortable period where we keep on falling over, and the reward-to-cost ratio doesn’t feel very satisfying. It’s yet another example of the Tangibility bias in action.

We have to learn how to keep pushing through the discomfort of developing mastery before we can get its rewards. And even discomfort itself becomes easier as we practice. The key is obviously to come back to the beat after you have dropped it. Chickaboom chickaboom, remember.

Restablishing your rhythm and momentum has a little bit of extra challenge. For instance it doesn’t have the glow of newness that it had at the start. This is a great job to employ your “Working on” team to help with, and especially your Hacker hero. “What can we use to pull ourselves up again?” he or she asks.

Here are some tips your Hacker might consider;

  1. First of all, be gentle with yourself. Building a practice is not easy, and losing your rhythm is a natural part of the process
  2. Reconnect with why you want to do this again. Remember, the “why” is the motivation that fuels your practice journey. Imagine your future self basking in the rewards of the fruits of your efforts
  3. Set a goal for how often you want to do your practice each week. I personally set most of my own practice frequency goals so there’s room for me to be less than perfect. And when I’m first starting out, or when I getting back up again I reduce this to make it feel accessible but still provide a sense of accomplishment when I achieve it
  4. When I have fallen off I often restart my practices at the beginning of the week. This makes use of a cognitive bias called the “Fresh start effect” which is the benefit of starting with a clean slate.

You will no doubt have lots of previous experience in your own life of having fallen off the rhythm of a practice, and got back on again. What has worked for you in the past?

I have found that these moments of establishing a practice after losing rhythm are some of the most useful and powerful in the life of my practice. Every time I get back up I reaffirm my belief in myself and my ability to do what I say I am going to do. There are few things more generous that you can do for yourself than that.