Six Steps to Mastering Your New Passion

Image of girl practicing violin.If you’ve been thinking about picking up a new skill or mastering a new game, don’t write yourself off. According to Anders Ericsson, a researcher obsessed with understanding the habits behind high-performers, there are approaches you can take that will enhance your capacity to work hard and master a new skill.

Contrary to the saying, no dog is too old to learn a new trick. Mostly it’s a question of how hard the dog wants to practice in order to learn the trick.

Below are some distilled ideas based on Ericsson’s findings on how you can become adept at a new pursuit.

1. Chase what you desire: Don’t pick something new because you think it makes sense. Pick something you actually want to do. When the going gets tough, a substantial passion for the pursuit will help you push through the pain of practice.

2. Work hard early: If you’re making this pursuit a priority, don’t put it off until the end of the day. Put it up front and first-thing in the day when you’re fresh and free of distractions.

3. Intensity, not duration: Maximum focus is only really available to you in 90-minute chunks of time. Work intensely, then take a break. Did you know that many of the world’s champions only practice for 4.5 hours per day on average?

4. Get a little feedback… not a lot: Once and a while, you’ll want an established expert to weigh-in on your work. So seek out a little coaching when you’ve been at it a while. Too much, though, and you’ll be plagued with anxiety, which will decrease the quality of your practice.

5. Rest is best: Taking breaks to refresh your brain and body will also help what you’re learning sink in. If you deny yourself the time to process your practice, you’ll short your new skill-set in the long run.

6. Schedule sacred time: Getting ad hoc about when you’ll practice is a sure way to never master your passion. Schedule it. Make it a ritual. Make it unbreakable. Don’t worry if it seems selfish. If you’re serious, you have to pay yourself first, and in all likelihood your discipline will inspire others.

Have you recently started building a new skill? Are you already incorporating these six tips in your practice?

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