word of the year: practice

Archery Target

There has been a movement lately toward focusing on a particular word each year that sums up what you would like to achieve or have more of in your life.  In a sense, it is like boiling down all your New Year’s resolutions into one.

Last year, I tried to focus on a specific Bible verse (Numbers 6:24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!). I did a really good job of keeping it in mind through January and into February, but then I let it slip, along with the books I was going to read daily, the journals I was going to keep, and the letters I was going to write.

But THIS year, I was ready. I had a word: BALANCE. I figured I needed more of that in my life in order to get out of bed and start living. I’ve been focused on it for six days and had a blog post going about it… and now I’ve completely thrown it out.

Riding home from the doctor’s office today, I was listening to the Blazers pregame show. Antonio Harvey, a former Blazer, was talking about how coach Tim Grgurich taught him to shoot free throws. He insisted that it was all about muscle memory, so he made the players make seven two-foot shots from a single spot on the court, then move slightly and make seven more two-foot shots. After a bunch of these, Grgurich had them take a step backwards and repeat the process with the same technique (just adding a little more power in the legs to shoot a little farther).

I started thinking about how this was like my cottage idea; once I got good at taking care of my little cottage, I would add rooms to it.  It was also like my running plan, where incremental steps would help me run farther and farther, until I get to run first one mile, then two, then three.

I realize that what these plans have in common is PRACTICE. Practicing an easy skill until it becomes second nature and then adding on a bit more difficulty. Building up that muscle memory. Making those new habits stick.

I have spent my life in search of the next great scheme, the one that is going to make all the difference. This year, though, I’m not going to put my energy into figuring out a way to reinvent the wheel. I’m just going to get down to basics and practice.

Okay, I’ll probably hatch a new scheme or two. I just know myself, and I won’t be able to help it. But I’ll try to put most of my energy into practice.

After all, practice makes perfect.

practice, v.   To act, develop, engage in, put into use, prepare, rehearse, sharpen.

practice, n.   Method, process, repetition, routine, system, training, workout.

Archery Target” by Alan ParkinsonCC BY

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