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I’ve Been Practicing

By January 6, 2021January 7th, 2021MJV Living

Last July I decided to make better use of all my newly acquired quarantine downtime. I added two new daily activities, hip hop dancing, and guitar playing. I’ve wanted to work on both these things for a long time do but never actually got around to it because “I didn’t have the time”. Well, I’ve got the time now. I’ve got so much stupid time!

I committed to each activity for at least 60 minutes a day. I printed out some calendars. I mark an X on each day I complete the activity, and O on the days that I don’t. This way I don’t need to focus on being super good at the thing, I just need to focus on putting the time in. Each day I’m a little bit better than the day before. After a while, the days add up and almost suddenly I’m waaaaaaaay better than when I started.

If you haven’t tried this approach yourself you are missing out. I’ve found it to be a fun and motivating way to keep myself committed to a habit.

See! Look at what a fun mess this is!

The whole point of practice is not to be better now, it’s to better in the future. And the process of getting better at anything is an endless cycle. I got this from Austin Kleon. He created this handy diagram that I’ve adopted as my daily practice mantra.

I even made my own sign and hung it up on my studio wall.

I think it’s crappy looking. I didn’t size it correctly. The matte covers up some of the image. Despite this, it still manages to get the job done. Reminding me that I suck and I will always suck, but if I put in the work I will suck a little bit less.

I started my new activities on July 16th, 2020. Here are my final results for 2020:

  • Dancing: completed 126 out of 169 days
  • Guitar playing: completed 129 out of 169 days

I am still a beginner level dancer. I find my moves to be quite embarrassing at times. I am improving each day, and that’s what I’ll continue to focus on.

Here’s a video of a dance practice session from a few days ago. Look at those sweet moves!

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A post shared by Mike Votava (@mikevotava)

For guitar, my playing is notably better. The improvement is quite noticeable. One of my widely known dirty little secrets is that, despite being in awesome bands and writing a bunch of songs and playing music for 25 years, I’m a really crappy guitar player. I can say now with full confidence that I’ve moved up from beginner to the intermediate level.

That’s pretty cool.

I am continuing to practice dancing and guitar in 2021. So far I have yet to miss a day.