As I progress in my never ending quest of self improvement, I am realizing how important it is to practice skills. It’s not only the development in getting better at a particular task but it’s also the discipline of keeping at doing something long enough to get better at it.

From my time as an athlete (in my past I was a decently competitive race walker and coach) I know that you have to work at things and keep a focus on something in order to get more proficient at it. That’s served me from playing the hammered dulcimer, competing in national level competitions in race walking, and also in my career development work.

One of the great values of this practice is screwing up. It’s usually from a time when I’ve done something I didn’t mean to (i.e. wrong) that I’ve learned from it and it’s dug itself into my mind that I should never do that again. Those horrors usually come back to me when I’m about to do the same dumb thing again and screams at me not to. I’ve been saved many times by that scream!  I’ve heard this referred to as an AFGE (Another F***ing Growth Experience).

I like to tell people that you have to make about 100 mistakes before you can do it right. Go put and talk to people about your dreams, hopes and desires. You’ll get it wrong the first few times, but you’ll get better at it.

Also, the more we practice, the more focused and centered we become. Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie at Arlington Street Church in Boston said that flossing is one of her spiritual practices. Washing dishes is the same for Thich Nhat Hahn. A spiritual practice is just another phrase for a habit. Some are good for you, and some are not. I’m trying to choose which habits will add spirit to my life and trying to cultivate them.

Through the GTD Virtual Study Group, I learned about Habitforge, a great website to support you in developing good habits. Here are mine:

  • Flossing daily
  • Going to bed before midnight
  • Getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night
  • Writing down all the food I eat each day nu4you
  • Exercising each day
  • Working on this blog

Studies show that it takes between 3 to 6 weeks for an action to become a habit.

What life giving habits are you practicing?