How to Get Better

First, choose to do something about “it.”

For me, 6 months ago, it was to learn to play the piano. But it could be anything from learning a new skill to addressing a fear of confrontation. Step one is to admit that there is something you want/need to do and then to decide to do it.

Second, hold a clear picture of what a preferred future looks like.

My goal for piano this year is to be able to play and sing a song by December. For the fear of confrontation it might be to address situations sooner, or to feel more composed than anxious during a difficult interaction.

Third, find a tangible way to show up every day to practice.

Even though I have a piano in my house there are days it feels miles away. As in, the choice to sit there is weighted down by pounds of resistance. Even so, minus some travel days, I sit at the piano and stumble along.

With something like confrontation, you can check in with a trusted partner, read the next chapter in a good book on the subject, tackle some lower stakes interactions to practice, etc. There’s plenty to do each day when we are willing, despite the resistance, to engage. 

Fourth, recognize your progress.

There are days when it is obvious that I am playing a certain exercise or a passage with more ease and fluency. I can feel it and it feels good. Better still, a family member chimes in with, “Hey, that sounds nice!”

With confrontation, you can take time to notice your tension going into a conversation. Is it higher or lower than normal? You can assess your application of a skill, the time it takes you to address something, the kind of questions that come to mind, or the reaction of the other person. All of these are potential markers for progress. 

Fifth, celebrate “better than before” as you humbly, not dejectedly, recognize that there is still a long way to go. Because there will always be a long way to go.

I’m not thinking about “mastering” the piano. I am thinking about building a repertoire of songs I love that both feed my soul and bring more music into my home. A fear of confrontation is a legitimate and challenging development opportunity that might not get “solved” but that can certainly be managed with deliberate attention.

This is not about “arrival” or “completion” but it is about building the resilience needed to keep making progress.

Sixth, however close to or far from the desired state, keep showing up.

Show up because you’re curious to find out what you’re made of. Show up because you’ve already come this far. Show up because how it was before is no longer enough for you. 

Show up because you can and because on many days that will be more than enough.


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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

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