Practice, Practice, Practice

Psychologists studying expert and exceptional performance found that it's not really about talent; it's about practice. The athletes and chess players we admire have practiced for around 10,000 hours over a span of 10 years.

That's just three hours of practice a day. So if you want to be exceptional, just start practicing. Step out of your comfort zone and deliberately improve your skills.

(Right. You knew that already.)

You can add a monthly calendar to your Hipster PDA to help you keep track of your progress. Use the blank template from the Franklin virtue chart. Write down your goal along the top of the card, and write a few activity suggestions on the back of the card. Then, depending on your style, you can either:

  • Fill in boxes when you've finished at least 3 hours of work. This results in lots of filled boxes, and can give you quite a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Better yet, fill in boxes only when you miss 3 hours of work. This results in feeling slightly guilty about not working toward your goal when you have to fill in the box, and a feeling of accomplishment when you survive the week/month/year without any crosses. This is how Benjamin Franklin used his virtue chart.

For example, my goal is to finish grad school. On the back of the card, I've written down some of the things I need to do for grad school: read academic papers, write, read textbooks. On the front of the card, I've... err... filled in far too many boxes, including yesterday's! Time to get back to work!

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