In order to become good at anything, you have to do it, and as you continue to practice, it becomes easier and your ability improves. Car driving is a good example. The first time I drove a car was my 17th birthday. I stalled the car again and again and again. I can actually remember each time and where it was. But eventually I managed to get back home again and the next time, I probably stalled the car once less. And in time, not stalling stopped being the primary focus of my lessons. Basic driving skills became a habit.
Dancing is another area close to our hearts, helped by having two girls who cannot actually remember a time before they danced. To begin with, we were relieved if they managed to go in the right direction on stage. And doing the swords dance in Highland dancing was something so far into the future that we didn’t even think about it. Now it’s something they did a few years ago and are now returning to in order to work on very specific technical aspects. They’ve been doing this for about ten years now and it shows, even if I am a biased Dad. Seeing Coppelia at the weekend, performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet (aka ‘BRB’ apparently), was all the better for seeing it through the eyes of two people who could recognise the different steps and routines.
The habit I’ve had to get into is writing every day. To begin with, it was a bit hit and miss. Then I started to write it down as a goal every day, and record how many words I’d written, where 1,000 was the goal every day (2,000 a day is a goal for the future, not right now). It took me about a month until it became a habit. I even wrote on Christmas Day (Stephen King does, so I figured I had no excuse). And looking back, I realised that was how I got into running as an ingrained habit. Just going and doing it when I didn’t feel like it, being glad I did, and finding the next time a bit easier until it was something I couldn’t imagine not doing. And in the same way, I now can’t imagine not writing every day. Just getting my 1,000 words done and stopping.
Getting out there with my camera and taking photos is the next habit I need to get into. I’m hoping a trip to London next weekend will help get that going.
As with many things, there is now a lot of research about habits and The Power of Habit is a great book if you want to know more about the science in a very accessible way, as well as how to get into good habits. Highly recommended, as it was to us.