Learn how to apply the principles of deliberate practice to achieve your goals.

If you’re a tennis player or striving to achieve any goal, you’ll be able to relate to this story. One of my goal last year was to become a 4.0 tennis player. There was no reason for it other than I thought it would a good challenge and keep me interested in the game. However, the process of working towards the goal did more for me than expected. It allowed me to experience the joy of being an athlete again.  

1/ Getting Started: Change starts with establishing new behaviors.  

At the beginning of the year, I hired the instructor who inspired me to set the goal. That meant early morning lessons on the weekends. Saturday we worked on my footwork, unit turn and compression. Sunday we put it to the test in a small group lesson with a couple who both played much better than me.

Sundays were challenging for all of us but I remember one in particular. We were doing some overhead drills that demanded good footwork. I don’t know exactly what happened but I ended up smacking myself so hard that the strings of my racquet imprinted on my thigh. My coach didn’t say anything nor did he let up. In fact, he may have even pushed me harder. 

I remember the day so well because it made me question whether I had set the goal too high and whether I was committed to doing the work to achieve it. Pain can make you doubt yourself.

There was nothing obvious to gain from pursuing the goal and some in my life questioned it. For some reason, I felt compelled to continue the journey. I’ve never asked my coach about that day but knowing him the way I do now, I have to believe that he was testing my commitment.

2/ Making Progress: Progress makes people happy.  

I remember the day when my instructor became my coach because it was the first sign of real progress. He told me that he was going to start treating me like an athlete rather than a student and that he was going to push me to my limit. That might seem scary for some but finding my limit seemed exciting to me.

Each week we started my lesson by talking about how I played during the week. I loved reporting my progress and telling him about my games. He loved it too and it helped him tailor my lesson. During our sessions he routinely stopped me to ask how something felt or to ask what I was saying to myself to fix a problem. By asking me those kinds of questions, I developed the vocabulary and mindset needed to succeed as a player.  

3/ Earning Support: Tell people your goal and they will show their support.

Having people rally around you in support of your goal is one of the most inspiring and rewarding experiences. 

I remember the day when one of the guys at the club asked me how my practice went and all I could say with a huge smile was…“I am going to be good.”  I had a breakthrough on the court that day but the biggest breakthrough of the week is that my beliefs were finally in sync with my behaviors. When you believe you can do it, you will achieve it.

Our Yoga Lesson of the Day

Let every breath take you close to your goal. ~ Nicole Cronin


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