The path to mastery is slow and arduous. You will find many reasons to give up, and everybody expects you to. After all, Malcolm Gladwell did say that you needed to practice 10,000 hours to reach mastery.
But, one of the worst feelings is to get stuck and to not know what to do to move forward… even if you keep practicing. This quote sums up why you can’t move forward:
“Insanity: Doing the same thing and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
If you have this feeling, use these scientifically proven techniques below to overcome your temporary plateau. Those techniques work for any type of topic, whether it is sport, music or academic subjects.
Practice less, practice better
If you are stuck, chances are that you are not using “deliberate practice”. Recent studies have proven that the quantity of practice does not matter as much as the quality.
What made the difference for piano players in the study, was there willingness to locate the source of their mistakes and relentlessly addressing them.
It’s not a “fun” method per say, as it puts you in a state of strain rather than a state of flow but it will pay off.
When you’re trying to learn something new, you need to exaggerate its distinctiveness in your mind. Your brain will remember it more easily. The use of caricatures in theoretical learning has proven to yield significant recall.
Another example is language learning. It is a very common issue for people to pick up a new accent. Every change feels so weird to them, that they don’t dare to exaggerate. That’s why, it is important to exaggerate willingly to know how much is too much. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck doing minor progress that feels huge only for you.
When you start learning something new, practicing is difficult. It’s quite disheartening. You see, that many people who are excellent at what you want to do, but somehow, you seem to continually suck at it.
A solution which is backed by science: Pretend to be them!
Pretend to be a superstar at what you’re trying to learn. Then the mental locks will go away and let you practice more serenely. Don’t hesitate to even mimic their ways of talking or walking, just so that your mind is completely fooled. You are the superstar.
Visualization and mental rehearsal are great ways of practicing to reach the next level.
As athletes are closing their eyes and “seeing” the vivid imagery of their success in the next game, their confidence level improves as “success” is already part of their reality.
Studies show that simply visualizing yourself training to do a specific move over and over helps to train the dedicated neural pathway… without the risk of physical exhaustion or straining your muscles.
Sometimes the best way of practicing is not to practice, shows science. Our body has limited stamina and even the best brain needs some time to consolidate new information.
Those breaks are a great time to reflect on the current state of your practice. If the breaks are disruptive and are dedicated to other non-related activities (social networks and other distractions), then those breaks won’t help you improve the results of your practice.
Do group practice
Practicing with other people is fantastic. Although it’s common in team sports, you have many benefits in organizing group practice:
- It’s a commitment device. If you tell other people to meet at the library to study, you will be a lot more likely to show up on time instead of watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones than if it would just be you.
- You can learn from other people’s experience and perspective. Multiple views of the same subject will make it more vivid for you.
- Teaching other people will force you to simplify and rethink what you thought you knew