Call It What You Will, It Takes Practice (So You Have to Have a Practice)

Call It What You Will, It Takes Practice (So You Have to Have a Practice)

Concepts are great, knowledge is good, trying things out is helpful; however, for lasting change, we need to incorporate and integrate our new beliefs and behaviors through practice. Yoga, sports, meditation, music, and many other categories benefit from the commitment to consistency. Ideally, we practice not out of obligation or drudgery, but out of the set of enhanced feelings and experiences, we get as a result of our dedication and diligence.

Sample scenario #1: When Alison gets stressed at work, she knows she has a choice. One is to head home for her favorite combo of junk food and junk TV. The other is to hit the dance movement class that she loves. Recently, she enlisted the help of a friend as an ally—when Alison goes to “junkville” (which she still may do from time to time), she gives $20 to her friend, who sends it to their favorite charity. More often, when she goes to dance class, she calls her friend later for an attagirl.

Sample scenario #2: Carlos has recently taken up aikido, and at first his coworkers made jokes about him coming in and throwing them down on the conference room floor. Soon, they realized that he is less reactive during meetings, more thoughtful in his responses, and more lighthearted. When they ask, Carlos says that his powers of concentration and compassion have improved as a result of this new endeavor.

Why will this help me at work? Having a healthy life skill that brings us balance, perspective, and joy can only be beneficial. Another aspect is that most of us tend to be much less self-critical when we are engaged in a dedicated practice—does it really work to judge yourself harshly during yoga class? With any sort of practice, we hopefully increase our capacity for mindfulness, always a useful tool in the chaos of work.

Why is this so difficult at times? First, if you haven’t noticed, we are still living in an instant-gratification culture. Second, technology can keep us flitting from input to input, with no real depth or value. Lastly, it takes faith that if we apply ourselves over time and persevere, we will obtain greater benefits than we might imagine.

Your frank self-assessment:

  • What happens when you look at your commitment to a practice—do you see ongoing opportunity, or do you see “failure”?
  • Where do you see a path that will bring you true benefits if you increase your dedication?
  • What would a greater commitment look like for you, and how can you “make it so”?

My tips:

  • Find an individual or group who shares your practice. While many practices can be done alone, it is almost always a richer experience if we are able to give support to others and receive it in return.
  • If you want a useful tool to reduce the internal chatter that keeps us from doing what is truly important (and not just urgent), try a meditation practice.
  • Do something physical. There should be some practice that involves the healthy movement of the body, particularly if your butt is parked most of the day, like mine is.

Action for traction:

  • Make six consecutive weekly appointments with yourself to “do your thing” (whatever it is). Do not allow yourself to cancel or no-show except in the case of a true emergency.
  • Explain to your partner or family how important this practice is to you, and that you’d like their active support. Ask them what positive and negative trade-offs they would experience from you making a more significant effort in this way.
  • Write up the job description of being a practitioner of your chosen method, and then list the benefits that come with the job.

Baked-in benefits:

  • You’ll have a greater sense of earned accomplishment.
  • A better internal experience from day to day is certainly worth having.
  • Virtually everyone reports increased balance and deeper satisfaction.

Excerpt From: Flip Brown. “Balanced Effectiveness at Work. How to Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor without Driving Yourself Nuts.”  Published by: Starr Farm Press