May 20, 2021

Habits vs Practices

Every day, you do things. Some of those things are habitual. You brush your teeth, you shower in the morning, you check your email, etc. It’s nearly automatic—you don’t even know you’re doing them.

There are several books written about habits. But lately, I’ve been wondering more about practice. Maybe it’s because one of my pandemic pleasures has been geeking out on the lovable Ted Lasso (can’t wait for season 2). Or my late nights of preparing for my first-ever piano recital.

Practice is something you do with intention. You set out to get better at playing, writing, performing, leading, building. More importantly, your intention is rooted in a new way of seeing yourself. You want your identity to be associated with whatever you’re practicing—I am healthy, a good leader, self-aware, etc.

Practice entails repeating certain actions in stages. When you clear that stage, you begin the next stage.

Along the way, practice requires feedback. Sometimes, that feedback is given by an expert (ie: coach, instructor, etc), and sometimes it’s shared by someone else who’s practicing the same thing. It can even be you reviewing your own work.

Finally, the outcome of your practice is revealed through some event. A game, a show, a presentation. You apply what you’ve learned through a moment that challenges you to put it all together. That event isn’t the end, but it is a milestone. From there, you’ll know what to continue working towards.

The Intersection of Practice and Habits

You’re doing things out of habit everyday. But you’re not necessarily practicing everyday. These two principles intersect when you choose where you need to grow, decide what to practice, and then set a habit cycle.

This makes growth more noticeable and measurable. Imagine a piano recital for you being a better manager, or the Olympics of solving problems, or the Final Four of storytelling.

What do you want to practice next? And who can guide you there?

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