Monday Motivation: Keeping a Habit

Happy Monday, practice pals! It’s our final Monday Motivation! Today’s is short and sweet, inspired by Atomic Habits by James Clear

As I write this on the final Monday of our practice challenge, our students are on the precipice of a huge achievement – practicing daily for a full month. That’s no small feat! The dedication and hard work it takes to complete a full month of anything is worth validating. I’m sure there have been days where you weren’t feeling it, but you did it anyway. Congratulations – you’re almost there!

Now it’s time for the obligatory “don’t lose all the momentum you just built up” talk. How can we keep this progress going? I can’t exactly dangle the metaphorical carrot of a pizza party every single month (though that’d be fun).

Here’s a tip from Atomic Habits: Don’t let the “I don’t notice a difference” mindset take over.

Early on in the book, Clear notes that “outcomes are lagging measures of habits.” In an instant gratification society, so many of us give up on something because we don’t feel/see/hear results as quickly as we want to. We tend to underestimate the effect that small changes can have. But anyone who is highly skilled didn’t acquire all that skill in one sitting – they made tiny improvements day after day after day. It’s the 1% rule:

“If you can get 1% better each day for one year, you’ll end up 37 times by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.”

What can you do to help your child continue their 1% daily gains? Here are a few of our tried and true tips:

  • Have a consistent routine. I enjoyed hearing about newfound practice routines from many of you over the course of the challenge. Part of building a habit is deciding when, where, and how something is going to happen. If you put practice time on your family calendar – good – keep it there!
  • Reinforce progress made. We can’t see the forest for the trees sometimes. As practicers, we are so entrenched in the work of making progress that sometimes we lose sight of how far we’ve already come. Remind your child of that! Something as simple as “wow, do you remember when that felt hard?” is huge.
  • Find motivators. Having a determined end goal for something – perhaps, a recital and a pizza party – can help the hamster wheel of practice and improvement feel a little bit more tangible. We can work together to create these goals, but, in case you didn’t know, there’s only 63 days between our February recital and our May recital. Might as well keep the momentum going!

You can hear a summary of Clear’s book straight from him by clicking here.

And, if you’re interested, here’s a reading list of the books referenced over the course of this month:

  • Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear

Happy practicing!