Monday, November 28, 2011

It Gets Easier

If you would absolutely know just one thing, know this: It gets easier.

OK, there may be other one-things to know, but It gets easier is a really good one.


There's this curious thing we humans do almost without fail. No how many times you've overcome obstacles and challenges, whenever you face a new one, you estimate the amount of effort required based on your first try.

It doesn't matter whether you're eliminating sugar from your diet or starting an exercise program, whether you're learning to ski or taking up the piano. The first time you try something new and challenging, it's likely to be pretty hard and, if you're like most people, you'll be tempted to project just how hard it is into all future attempts.
I can't imagine going through this every time someone brings out a fresh baked dessert; I miss sugar so much.

I thought I was gonna die the last 100 yards. I barely made it a half mile and I feel terrible. How am ever gonna run four miles, let alone a marathon.

I don't see how do people enjoy skiing; all I do is fall and these bindings are killing me.

I tried and tried, but I just couldn't get my fingers to do what I wanted them to do. I want so badly to play piano, but I just don't have the coordination for it.

Not surprisingly the result of these projections is to quit. Who would want to continue an activity that's painful, that leaves you feeling terrible, that makes you feel like a klutz?

The thing is: It gets easier.

More than that, It gets a lot easier. What you perceived as painful, overwhelming or impossible becomes invigorating, inspirational and easy. That is, if you keep at it and believe it will.

Not only that, but the rate at which it gets easier increases. Sure, it gets easier, but it also gets easier faster as you go. At first, it's getting easier may be imperceptible. However, over time, you'll start to notice that it got easier, from month to month, then from week to week, then from day to day.

Just Do It!
Trite but true, there are times where you've got to stop thinking about it, get off the couch and just do it. You can read all day long. You can study and pass tests. Still, there are things to be learned that can only be learned by doing.

Further, if the things to be learned by doing are challenging, you'll be engaged in the process of trial and error. Remember: It gets easier.

Regression Towards the Mean
It's important to recognize that the path to easier is often one of two-steps forward, one step back. Day to day, it may get harder, but over time the average effort required is less (and less and less).

The statistical phenomenon is known as Regression Towards the Mean. It's important not to look at easier on a day-to-day or try-to-try basis. What matters is the average or mean effort over time. It's tricky because we tend to lock on to the most recent experience, sometimes to the exclusion of all others. Remember it's the average challenge/effort that gets easier.

In the end, if you stick with it (and pay attention), it gets easier.

Happy Monday,

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