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Consistent Effort Can Help You Reach New Heights

The beauty of consistently putting time and effort into developing your skills is often overlooked. However, it can just be what you need to enhance the quality of your work and achieve your goals. During this time, you are constantly being challenged to overcome your weaknesses by getting out of your comfort zone. Balancing this hard work ethic and getting an accurate rest can propel you further in life.

A well-known proverb states, “you reap what you sow,” which means that any outcome you get is a by-product of your actions. For example, if you plant a garden, some vegetables might grow from it. If you study for a test, you are more likely to pass the exam. This also applies to the total number of attempts or time one spends on a project and how it affects your ability to achieve a desired result.

Malcolm Gladwell's book, “Outliers: The Story Of Success,” provides critical factors of why specific individuals obtain more tremendous success than others. One of them being the infamous 10,00-Hour Rule. The 10,000 Hour Rule states that a person can master a skill only after practicing the correct way for around 10,000 hours. Gladwell uses Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and the English rock group, The Beatles as an example.

What sets Gates’ success apart from others is his unique access to a computer when he was younger. In 1968, Gates gained access to a high school computer and could log 10,000 hours of programming. While The Beatles’ musical talents result from them honing their craft. From 1960 to 1964, The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany, over 1,200 times, which equates to more than 10,000 hours of playing time. This goes hand in hand with a well-known debate topic of talent versus hard work.

Talent refers to a person’s natural ability or a skill that one is naturally gifted with. At the same time, hard work refers to putting in a great deal of effort. This subject matter is explored in a study by K. Anders Ericsson called “The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance.” It explains how expert performance results from an individual’s constant strive to improve their performance and how many characteristics perceived as innate talent result from intense practice extended for over ten years. This fierce practice is coined as ‘deliberate’ practice.

Deliberate practice is defined as a practice that focuses on tasks that are beyond your current level of competence and comfort. It is effortful, but the main goal is self-improvement. Within this practice, an individual completes specific tasks designed to overcome weaknesses. Afterward, they monitor their actual performance and find ways to improve. Unlike regular practice, where a person works on a skill until it becomes second nature, deliberate practice requires metrics for measuring performance. These metrics are then used to determine if there are any signs of improvement. It is an excellent way of preventing plateaus and increasing the speed of improving at a particular skill, which leads to the implementation of ‘deliberate’ practice or consistent effort into your life.

The first step to implementing regular and deliberate practices into your life is to identify the skill you want to improve on and break it down into its minor components. For example, if you're going to boost your writing skills, then you need to pinpoint the essential elements of the writing process, which are planning, organizing, writing, editing, and revising.

After pinpointing the smaller components, you create a plan to work on the skill in logical order. It means you start from the fundamentals and build upon them.

As you are working on these smaller components, you need to keep the goal in mind, which is a continual improvement by taking on new challenges. This stems from the idea that deliberate practice requires you to target your weakness to make progress. An example of pushing oneself out of their comfort zone is adjusting the intensity of the rules into  ‘sprints’ rather than longer sessions. By setting goals that are slightly out of your comfort zone, you will not become complacent and can guarantee a sense of ongoing movement. That tiny bit of progress will accumulate into more significant chunks of progress.

Benjamin Franklin is an excellent example of using deliberate practice to become the great writer he is known for today. At age 16, Franklin considered himself a lousy writer. To improve his writing, he would rewrite an article from one of his favorite magazines, The Spectators. Afterward, Franklin would compare his work to the original to see where he was lacking and correct them. Franklin would use this method to improve other areas of his writing, like article structure and vocabulary.

Since constant effort and deliberate practice requires a certain intensity, it also needs rest and recovery time. It is often hard to sustain the mental energy to do deliberate practice for an entire day, so many practitioners only spend around three to five hours per day on deliberate practice. Plus, getting an adequate amount of rest is also recommended to prevent burnout and sustain motivation. It’s not that often that you will see immediate results, so resting and taking much-needed breaks will give you enough energy to practice until your efforts pay off.

Overall, constant effort and the deliberate practice method are great principles to put yourself in the best position to improve any skill or area in your life.

Edited By: Whitney Edna Ibe

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