Purposeful practice lessons and tips
If you read my previous post on purposeful practice you’ll know that I decided to try exercising every day for a month to improve my fitness. The month is now over and I’ve been reflecting on how I found it. Like many of our clients who have tried to implement change, I soon realised it wasn’t easy.
I actually surprised myself that I managed to stick to doing some form of exercise every day for the whole month. This part for me was fairly easy most of the time because I got into the routine of doing it early in the evening, straight after getting home from work. I admit that I often lacked creativity and would refer to the internet to find workouts to follow, but I was doing it.
Getting into the routine stopped me from making excuses. Whenever I felt unmotivated I reminded myself of why I wanted to do it in the first place and told myself that once I’d done my bit for that day I could do something I really enjoy, like reading or watching TV.
Was my practice purposeful? Ish. Throughout the month I went on several runs – something I never expected would happen. The first one was horrible. I quickly found myself out of breath and exhausted and had to walk. Then a couple of regular runners I know advised me to go slower next time. So I did and it worked – I managed to keep going for longer and travelled a further distance. Perhaps most importantly, I didn’t find it too bad at all. The next time I did it, I chose a different route that was slightly hilly in parts and my legs could feel the challenge. So in that sense, yes, I was seeing improvement.
When I was doing the indoor workouts I tried to continue for slightly longer each week throughout the month. In hindsight this is not good enough to count as ‘purposeful practice’ because some days I just wasn’t putting in as much effort, despite spending more time. This was especially the case whenever I got in late in the evening (a few times each week) and that’s because my habit of doing it immediately after work was interrupted.
I think the challenge did improve my fitness somewhat but I know that I could’ve achieved better results had I been more focused on achieving specific goals along the way that I could monitor and improve on. My biggest mistake was that my challenge to ‘become fitter’ was too vague.
What I’ve learned is actually simple and something that we often tell our clients. Goals should be SMART – that’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. It’s been a great learning experience for me and I’m glad I did it. I can now continue practicing the SMART way and I’d encourage you to try it too. Choose something you’d like to change in your life and get setting goals!