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3 Simple Ways To Learn to Swim Faster (Or Learn Nearly Any Other Skill)

3 Simple Ways To Learn to Swim Faster (Or Learn Nearly Any Other Skill)

Because I had never seriously done anything athletic before, I really wanted to join a sports team in high school. I went down the list of all the sports at my school. Every time I played a sport with a ball, the ball consistently found its way to my face. So, nothing with a ball. Then, the list got very short: running, wrestling, or swimming. I took some swimming lessons when I was in elementary school, so I decided that I’d found my sport. I asked my swim team friend how I could join. I needed to make the team by swimming faster and learning butterfly. In doing so, I learned not only how to swim faster but how to build any new skill, like writing or dancing.

1. Get someone/something to keep you accountable

Nothing feels better than starting a new activity like that new yoga class or that new diet. But reflect back on all the times you have tried to change your life. You will find a lot more beginnings than endings. Why? Because starting is actually a lot of fun. It isn’t too hard to try something new when it feels exciting and different. The hard part is what happens between the beginning and the end- and a swim instructor or workout partner, for example, can help you with just that. Think of those moments when you feel as if your body cannot lift itself out of bed; when absolutely anything sounds better than going swimming or going to the gym; when cleaning your desk suddenly jumps to the top of your priority list.

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Your mind will give you every excuse possible not to improve, but having an instructor you have paid for will make your consistency a lot easier to maintain. Instructors are not the only options either. Joining a club, team, or even a competition can all help you to push yourself by providing an imaginary gun to your head- with social pressure as the ammo.

2. Do not talk about your new goal

Think about your very successful friend, the one that is going to Harvard or has a nice job. There are usually two options: 1) That person brags about their accomplishments, not what they plan to do, or (the more pleasant, common option), 2) Everyone talks about that person’s accomplishments for them.

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In both these examples, the successful person doesn’t prioritize talking about what they plan to do.

Here’s another way to see this in action: say out loud: “I’m going to lose weight. Tomorrow, I’m going to meticulously plan out my calories for each meal by writing it in the Notes App on my phone. Then, at 8:00pm everyday I’m going to jog for 3.576 miles.”

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Feels good, doesn’t it? Imagining yourself putting on your running shoes. Imagining yourself eating some kale. But learning new skills requires getting your happiness from actually carrying out your plans, not just the satisfaction of verbalizing them.

3. Recognize that failures are bound to interrupt you

I remember periods in my swim career where I had a really tough workout and then my times got faster. So, as long as I pushed harder, I should have kept continuously improving, right? Nope. Sadly, there will be periods where you push harder, but you just can’t make your times faster. Or you can’t understand that math problem. Or you get an injury that prevents you from achieving your goal. And that’s okay.

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Point #1 is great for getting you through those hard times. Perceive obstacles as something else to work on, like a new drill that will better your form or improve your breathing. Then, when you are able to, you can go back to your regular approach. Switching up your regime can keep things fresh and less stressful.

By working with the YMCA instructor, I improved my times enough to join the swim team. Then, the swim team helped me to improve my times and form with grueling morning practices. Now, it has been two years since I have been on a team. But one of the best feelings you get from acquiring a new skill, is its lingering control over you. Every so often, I seriously feel like I need to strip off and get into a pool and complete some laps. These thoughts belong to the same guy who once dreaded taking a 30-minute lesson to learn butterfly. Follow these tips and soon enough, you won’t need to push yourself: your new hobby will push you.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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