Even after periods of great accomplishments, we constantly need to be reminded about what we can actually do. This is true because after long periods of inactivity we have igorned the development or continued practice of our greatest skills. For example, I’m an accomplished musician, and have engaged in years of consistent fitness. For me, taking time off from either of these activities shows a discernible decrease in those abilities, as well as the related confidence that develops with them, and I’m sure that this applies to many of you as well.
This has happened both with my guitar playing and writing music. I can’t tell you how frustrated I’ve been when I let these skills slip. It’s as if my mind starts telling me that I can’t do it anymore. My conception of music wanes, and even physically, my hands don’t have the same dexterity and endurance that they once did. I even lose the calluses on my finger tips which means that resumption of playing can be painful for weeks.
In addition to playing guitar less, I’ve also seen myself lose physical strength and confidence when I don’t exercise regularly. The longer the period of inaction, the more my mind starts disbelieving that I can really do it. My confidence actually starts to atrophy! So we have to be mindful of this when this loss in ability occurs so that we can more confidently reclaim our personal or professional greatness with any given task.
This diminished confidence has been especially observable with my personal fitness. It only takes me a few days without exercise for my mind to start developing a narrative that I may not be able to do certain things anymore. Yet the more regularly I engage in exercise, the more my mind and body fall into a confident sync again.
The same is true with many different types of skills practiced by many people. If you fall away from your productive routines, the sharpness of the skill that you were working on will become diminished. I’m sure that I’m stating the obvious, but we should still try to cultivate a mindful approach to resuming activities that matter to us. Because we’ve fallen short for a period, it doesn’t mean that we can get back to what we were doing. The time off can even mean an enhanced learning curve after consistent is resumed.
Fortunately, any truly developed skill can be reestablished without a great deal of time and effort.
Have you ever plateaued with a skill? Meaning, have you reached point where you felt that you just weren’t learning or growing anymore? Everyone experiences this. We spend most of our lives in a plateau, and one of the tricks to dealing with it is learning to deliberately love the plateau instead. Seriously, if you’re bored by a plateau, decide to make a conscious choice to love it!
I’ve had periods of my life when my skills were razor sharp and I exuded confidence. Other times, after consistent periods of inaction, I could clearly sense the waning of my skill and the related confidence with those skills.
So I tend to look at consistent greatness as though it’s like training a muscle. You work the muscle and it grows. Then when you discontinue working the muscle, it atrophies. This is the perfect metaphor for so many things in life.
So to summarize, it’s natural to lose skill and confidence when we become inactive with a previously developed pastime. It naturally follows that we must be acutely mindful of this reality. The greatest individuals will be able to rally self discipline to get back to the path of mastery with anything. We can do this, and when we realize that it happens, definitely returning to good habits must be as well developed as our commitment to mastery of the skill in the first place.
I hope these thoughts have been helpful in your life!
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