Have you ever really, really tried hard with something and only ever felt stuck in a rut??
Something I’ve always had trouble with in learning anything is hitting a plateau, or a wall, where my level of competence doesn’t seem to improve even though I’m still following the same study / practice / review habits that took me so far in the first place.
No matter what you do, it seems you are doomed to being “average” at something, and you are surrounded by people who seem to be progressing past you and leaving you in the dust. As a result, you quit, and over time your previously “average” skills get rusty and become less-competent, and you start seeing the time you spent as wasted, even though you really enjoyed it to start with.
Sound familiar? If that’s the case, you’re not alone! However, why did we “fail”? What happened to discourage us, and what were we doing “wrong” that other people were doing “right”? How did they achieve their goals? It’s easy and romantic to picture such people as “gifted” but the truth is that they are building on a foundation built from experiences when they were younger. Eventually, those experiences paid off massively when they chose the things to spend their time doing when they got older.
I just do it to “relax”, though…
Even in the case of hobbies, a lot of motivation and enjoyment comes from the progression from practice. When that progression peaks, or in some cases regresses, a hobby can become a reminder that you are doomed to suck.
Does this mean that have to languish with our sense of medicority? To feel bitter and demotivated, and the only option is to accept it and “netflix and chill” the pain away with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s by our side?
What you and I can do is learn from such people on their methods, and see how you can apply it to your own efforts.
So this leads to the aims and objectives of this blog. I will set out to see how I can improve a specific skill over the course of one year, every year (me and you are in this for the long haul, yo!) and over that time blog about:
- New, specific things I have learned about a subject, and write blog posts teaching you what I learned.
- Methods and frameworks of learning that could be potentially applied to any subject – maths, foreign languages, musical instruments, sports, crafts and trades – you name it!
- Interviews with people who have achieved a level of mastery of something to talk about their methods and struggle to reach their level
- Experts in the psychology of learning and motivation to help us understand the “why” of how learning works and how to keep on track to reach our goals.
I was a little reluctant to name this blog “Reach for Mastery”, as it just sounds like some cheesy blog focussed on a meritocratic way of gauging ability. The kind written by some guy in a button-up shirt buttoned all the way up to the collar, grinning with his perfect white teeth telling readers “If you listen to me, you’ll definitely succeed!”. Nah. Me and you are going to have a lot of fun, but there definitely will be some deep dives into the nitty-gritty, no simplistic memes nor phrases that look good shared on facebook. This also means that we will be discouraged at times, and that is an inevitable part of practicing and learning about anything.
In the next post, I will be detailing what the goal for the first year will be and set some benchmarks for what hopefully will happen. Until next time, stay keen, stay curious!