by Niall Doherty

“We talkin’ ’bout practice.” – Allen Iverson

I’ve been apartment hunting the past few days, seen a few different places and met several landlords. I used to always hate the part where I had to ask about the rent. I wasn’t comfortable talking money and was afraid to negotiate.

This week though I’ve found myself feeling at ease with the rent speak. I believe the reason why is simple: I’ve been through this dozens of times now, with many different people in several different countries. It’s not new and uncomfortable anymore. I’ve had lots of practice.

I could say the same about flirting, traveling and being self-employed. All things that once scared the bejesus out of me, but not so much anymore.

To state the obvious: Whatever we spend time practicing, we inevitably get better at, we inevitably get comfortable with.

But this can be dangerous. Because many of us spend time practicing things we’d rather not get better at or comfortable with. A few examples:

  • Working an unfulfilling job
  • Being a push over
  • Running away from challenges
  • Procrastinating
  • Being in an unfulfilling relationship
  • Watching television
  • Complaining
  • Passing the buck
  • Keeping your opinion to yourself
  • Being shy

The more time we spend doing such things, the better we get at them, the more they feel like the norm, and the harder it is to break out and make a change.

Take the unfulfilling job as an example. By staying there long-term, you’re effectively giving yourself lots of time to practice complacency. You get used to the steady paycheck, the office gossip, the daily commute, the endless meetings where no real decisions are made… before you know it you’ve gotten really good at sleepwalking through 2,000 waking hours of your life each year.

Take procrastination as another example. When you keep putting off things you know you should do, that becomes a habit, your default way of handling things. Practice makes perfect.

You get where I’m going with this: Consider the things you’re practicing, the things you’re regularly devoting time and energy to, and make sure those are the things you want to become good at.

If not, stop practicing and go do something else.