The Importance of Practice: Use it or Lose it

Yoga Practice Pincha Mayurasana

“A genius! For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” —Pablo Sarasate (Spanish violinist)

Give Practice some Glory

Practice deserves a lot more glory around here, frankly. It is far too often the unpopular accompaniment to success and stardom. It is the unworthy servant next to Gods of fame and fortune. Practice hardly makes cocktail conversation, much less a serious topic of every day discussion and attention.

Today, I am going to put practice up on a pedestal, shower it with glory and worship it all over again. Today, I am choosing to remember the importance of practice and the essence of true growth and improvement.

Practice can be the one gap you have to close between yourself and your goals (Choose to close it). It can be the one impediment that can hold you back and leave you wondering why others are so much better at that something for which you pine (Don’t allow it). It can make the difference between good and great, mediocre and magnificent (Go for the latter). It can define your skills by different scales altogether (Up the ante) It can be your breakaway strategy and your true path to your very own authentic success or the lack thereof (Seriously, practice is that good and almighty.)

Practice is the brutally honest friend, dropping rude awakening on your path on an idle Tuesday. Unsolicited, unwanted, unasked for but nonetheless, it shows up, telling you quite frankly why you are not good enough at something just yet. A (big!) part of you wants to kick him out of your life and the other part — the smart part — knows the layers of truth hidden in the message.

The Difference between Hard Work and Practice

All practice takes hard work but not all-hard work is practice.

Hard work is the sweat and tears you put toward a single task, be it a challenging, intellectually stimulating, complex task or a boring, dull and repetitive task.

Hard work is going through college, medical school, or a certification program.

Hard work is also shoveling snow, cleaning your boat, washing your dog, and chasing after your kids. Hard work is exertion of the body and the mind regardless of the task.

When hard work trains and refines your body or your mind to perform a single task beautifully, effortlessly, strongly and gracefully, then it is called a practice.

This can be the practice of your abilities and skills at something that greatly interests you, be it your writing, your dance, your art, your cooking, your communication skills, your yoga, your running, your photography, your meditation, your fill-in-these-blanks passion.

Hard work can be wasteful and show no results beyond the immediate. I bet you can think of examples and spare me the trouble to reflect on the wasted hours of my life at menial, ridiculous tasks and jobs. (Please nod yes and let us move on.)

Practice, on the other hand, never goes unnoticed for long. When you practice consistently at something, it shows — whether you like it or not. Lo and behold, the fruits of all practice resurface and subtle that they may be, they gently nudge you forward on your particular path.

Practice is the beginning of beautiful miracles waiting to unfold. For me. For you. For anyone – and I mean anyone – willing to put in the practice to build a skill and develop a talent.

What Happens When You Practice?

When you practice, you use your skills and you build on them. You start to break boundaries, the ones you swore you’d “never be able to do”; you push past your old edge and start playing around new ones. Simply put, you get better with practice. Oh and you look like a genius on the side. (See my favorite quote at the opening).

Practice is intoxicating, brilliantly simple and simply brilliant and truly the best antidote for a dip in motivation. It empowers and enables. It reminds you that building a skill is difficult but not impossible. Practice makes things possible. Practice opens doors but only — and not a minute sooner than — when you are ready for it.

Consistent and regular practice has more of an exponential than a linear effect. If you practice your dance weekly, you advance very slowly over time but if you practice it daily, the jump is not linear. It is exponential — in other words, it’s a big jump, a huge jump, the kind of jump that makes the difference between good and great, mediocre and magnificent.

And practice rewards handsomely in all instances. It does not care about the state of economy, your business or even your relationships. When you practice something — anything — you improve, you grow, you advance, you gain a skill and heaps of confidence to boot.

On the scale of good to great, I have stumbled on these moments of progress in my yoga journey  — things I thought I’d never be able to do are now part of my regular practice. What beautiful proof to believe that practice pays in abundance.

What Happens When You Don’t Practice?

When you don’t practice, you lose your skills, not all at once — now that would be obvious enough to terrify you back into practice — but instead, one subtle muscle and brain memory at a time. At first, it is frustrating but hardly bad enough to sound a loud alarm. Then you notice that what seemed so effortless at the height of your practice now takes so much more time and energy.

You slip here and there. You lose your refinement and agility. You notice that the skills you once held at the palm of your hands are now slipping through your fingers and you wake up to reality. You have slowly lost your sharp skills for that which you swore you loved more than anything else.

Without practice and use, you lose what you built. The less you practice, the faster it fades and it is a terrible thing to witness so stop the insanity early on!

Beware of the impending effect on your beloved skills. I have noticed this bitter effect many times. When we lived in Turkey, I had mastered Turkish like a native. I would ace geography and history in 8th grade, gossip with the best of them in school, and once successfully translated a car-buying negotiation between my dad and the dealer from Farsi to Turkish. Today I remember a few words and harbor some regret in losing my skill for not using it.

Fall in Love with Your Practice

Practice is tangible. Motivation and inspiration are sometimes fleeting but practice, you can hold on to it. You can count on it. You can schedule it. You can plan it. You can commit to it. You can return to it anytime so long as you believe in its power and its rewards.

So whatever your goals, your desirable skills, your artistic aspirations and dreams of creativity, build a consistent, unshakable practice around it. Stay the course, detach from the end-goal and delve into the world and wonder of your practice.

Fall in love with the slow, the steady, and after a while, the significant progress which awaits you. Fall in love with your practice and compromise it for nothing in exchange on your path to greatness.

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  • Sandi Amorim

    Practice is the road to mastery. Whatever the activity, if I think of it as ‘a practice’ vs. practicing, I am much more likely to stay true to my path. I love the idea of falling in love with your practice!

    • Jaky Astik

      I believe that practice takes you towards perfection. Like you say ‘a practice’ is much more glorifying than practicing. It somewhat like doing something and just falling in love with it. Kind of habit, but a bit different.

      Recently, I read a book called ‘the Power’ by Rhonda Byrne. Wonderful ideas on practice and love.

      • Farnoosh

        Hi Jaky, it takes us “towards” perfection but I don’t know if we ever get there – maybe in certain moments in time, we do but it is all about the journey – and yes, “a practice” sounds on a different scale than the “act of practicing” – you know, the only thing I read by Rhonda Byrne was “the secret” – which the whole world has heard of and I’m afraid I was not that impressed. Maybe this is one of her better works? Thanks again for your thoughts here, Jaky!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Sandi, how nice to see you here – especially after reading your really fabulous post of Return of the Mojo. Yes, I love how you put it. Road to mastery. And thanks for making the distinction between practice & practicing. I think of all things as practice ever since I started the yoga practice but it’s important to note it nonetheless….! Thank you ever so much for your comment!!

  • Peter J

    Maybe it takes a genius to be able to practice? So Pablo was right because he was a genius for being able to get to his level.

    I think practice does deserve the glory, but we live in a society that is so focused on the now so it never really gets a chance because its over an extended period of time. I think it might always remain this way too :(

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Peter, welcome to prolific living. So funny – no it doesn’t take a genius to be able to practice … maybe a genius to keep it up as steadily and consistently as it really needs to be kept though….Pablo I am sure was a genius but he obviously has an issue with being called as such. And what can I say, indeed we are so focused on getting results NOW that waiting for something sounds preposterous but oh it’s so worth the wait! Thanks so much for your thoughts!

  • The Vizier

    Hi Farnoosh,

    I love your article on practice. Without practice, people cannot become proficient at what they do. In fact, I make it a point to practice everything that I want to gain proficiency at. I know that I may not be good at something today. But with practice, I can easily become better and blaze my own trail. Practice gives me a wealth of experience about what to do and what not to do. It’s good to look back once in awhile to appreciate how far we have come. And when we realize the distance we covered, we cannot fail to be amazed at how far we have come and how much we have improved compared to when we first started out.

    For example, I have been practicing my divination skills daily. I always divine at least once a day so that I can pick up events, something like Daredevil’s radar sense haha! Sometimes if I have other questions I divine them as they come or when I am helping my friends or clients. In fact when I don’t practice it, I feel very uneasy. And just yesterday, I was reviewing some of my divinations I did a few years ago. I was amazed at the things I have learned to look out for and noted the many errors that I had made or overlooked. Yet my skills are not miraculous. They are the result of consistent practice. Thankfully I enjoy divination and knowing things so I don’t even feel like I am practicing or that it is arduous. In fact, I look forward to it. When you do something that becomes such a natural part of your life, this is the best form of practice.

    Thank you for writing this needed post on practice dear Farnoosh! :)

    Irving aka the Vizier

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Irving, I am going to admit my ignorance and even though I did a short Google search, you have to tell me what divination is and what the practice of it involves in your own terms – and I am so happy you enjoyed this post and agree with the ideas here. I do love “blaze my own trail” – great phrase. Thanks for your comment!

      • The Vizier

        My apologies Farnoosh for assuming that you knew what I was talking about. Divination is basically trying to foresee the outcome of my actions before they happen. Some common divination tools include the Tarot or Oracle Cards. I happen to prefer I-Ching or Yijing divination which you can read more of in my upcoming blog posts.

        Imagine, if you knew what was going to happen beforehand, how would you use that knowledge? For example, if you see dark clouds in the sky, you know that it will rain soon. With this knowledge you have a few options. Carry an umbrella if you are outdoors, wait indoors until the rain has passed, or make a dash for it and hope you do not get too wet.

        I am sure you agree that we have many possible paths to take in life depending on the choices we make. The problem is most of the time, we make the best choices we can based on what we know and logical projections into the future. But logic can only take us so far. At any point in time, there are countless external factors which may affect our plans and which we cannot foresee based on logic alone. By using divination, we can enhance our intuition and gut feel to foresee events that we could not know otherwise. The following extract is part of a comment I left on Angela’s blog post “How Intuition Helped One Woman Un-Mask Her Lover’s True Identity.

        “I remember years ago when I started out using the I-Ching to divine events. My logical mind was always skeptical. How could I foretell events through divination? Is it right all the time? The Yijing has proven to be an invaluable companion for me. By enchancing my intuition it has saved me from making mistakes time and time again. Interestingly it has also increased my ability to detect signs. I remember how I used it to foresee how job interviews would turn out. It was very interesting knowing beforehand what to expect, how the interview would go and how I should conduct myself to get the job. And of course doing everything right I did get that job.

        My favourite story would have to be ordering a package of books from Amazon. It was my first time and I knew it would arrive on Friday but I did not know what time. But from my divination I managed to deduced the time as around 1-1.30pm. I knew that something bad would happen if I carried out my usual routine of going out to buy lunch during that time. My guess was I would miss my package. So even though it was raining heavily, I went out at 12.30pm to get my lunch and arrived back at 1pm to wait. Sure enough, the package arrived at 1.10pm. Had I been a hermit sitting at the top of a mountain, I would say to the delivery man, I have been waiting for you haha! Of course I can’t always pin point everything with such accuracy, but this is one of the most uncanny experiences that I have had which my logical mind alone could never have foreseen.”

        I firmly believe that we should balance intuition with logic. To rely on logic alone is to go through life with one hand tied behind your back. I hope that answers your question somewhat. :)

        • Farnoosh

          Dear Irving, no need to apologize especially when you come back with such an explanation. I think there is a difference between something going to happen before it does and predicting the future. Right? I get those feelings of intuition all the time – and read Angela’s post often as well! I just didn’t think it was called divination or that one could master one’s abilities or sharpen those skills. What if it’s all a coincidence? Although it happens to me often and I rarely call it that ;)! Thanks Irving. You have taught me something new!!

  • Patti Foy

    So true, Farnoosh! So good of you to raise public awareness about this… I hadn’t really thought about this before.

    But yes, practice does get a bad rap. Or rather, being born “gifted” is always held up as the ultimate. How disempowering is that?

    Thanks so much for pointing out we can choose where and how we want to excel. And okay, so we get to work at it. That’s half the fun, after all.

    Oh, and like Sandi, I loved your idea of falling in love with our practice. Nice.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Patti, welcome to prolific living and thank you for your thoughts here. I know what you mean – you always here people say someone is “gifted” – who are we to know how many thousands of hours of practice that person put into their talent and skills….And yes, fall in love with your practices and never stray from it…hope to see you here again!

  • Sandra Lee


    I’m so delighted that you are emphasizing the importance of practice. You paint such a clear portrait reflecting the lack of practice! Alas, consistency is not one of my greatest strengths. I need this kick in the pants, this timely reminder. Now, off to practice! As someone else said, practice is the road to mastery.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Sandra, it’s more like a nudge than a kick – well it is always a self-kick that’s for sure but I am learning to be softer on me. Here’s hoping for a much better consistent practice at our passions come 2011! Thanks so much for letting me hear from you before the new year rolls around, Sandi!

  • Galen Pearl

    An excellent reminder. I could relate to the loss of language skills. When I lived in Thailand I spoke at a conversational level. Now I only remember a few basics. Same with piano. I played when I was younger. Now I can’t do more than plunk around a bit. Use it or lose it. So true.

    But I am practicing something now. I have been practicing taekwondo for almost three years. I am now training for my black belt, which I hope to earn by the time I’m 60. I’ll be 59 next month, and I still have a long way to go to be ready, so I’m motivated!

    However, I have discovered that practice must be tempered with gentleness. When I earned my last belt and saw how far I still need to go to be ready for the black belt test, I started training so hard I was exhausted and got sick.

    I realized that I need to be mindful of what my not-so-young-anymore body is telling me. I need to practice in a way and at a pace that honors my body as well as my goal. I will be ready when I’m ready. Or not. The goal has become less the focus than the practice itself.

    So practice has become a balance between challenging myself to go further and listening to my body saying enough. A dance of delight.

    • The Vizier

      Wow Galen,

      You truly are an inspiration to be working hard to gain your black belt at taekwondo. I agree that practice should be tempered with gentleness. Burning ourselves out only hinders our progress in the long run. This is the first time you surprised me, but that is not surprising in itself. Haha! 😉

      • Galen Pearl


        Considering how many times you have surprised me, I’m dancing a little victory dance at having surprised you once!!


        • Farnoosh

          Not only do I wish I could see the victory dance, I love it when you guys start conversations here and support each other…..what a thriving community! And yes, Irving, Galen is quite the incredible example for us all!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Galen, you are so full of poetic prose here (and impressing The Vizier at the same time, seriously on top of your game today :))! – I must say that I have been waiting to take martial arts for a long time now but there is no way I can fit it into everything I am doing and I’ve already dropped some of my other hobbies to make more time for blogging and well, it’s – like you said so beautifully – a dance of delight. I am ever so proud of your amazing goal and I have no doubt you will meet this goal but you will probably look back and look with awe at all the loving practice that it took to bring you to this point. Thank so much for sharing this with us! We are here to cheer you on!

  • Lance

    In his book “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell asserts that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. While I don’t know if that number is a fully true statement, I do believe it ties in perfectly to what you are talking about here. What we do, over and over – and especially that which has deep meaning to us – this is how we become an expert at it.

    So, I am fully in agreement with you – practice deserves all that you’ve given to it here…and then some!

    • Farnoosh

      “Outliers” is still sitting on my shelf. I read his first two books but never finished this one but I did read enough to know that about Malcolm’s point, Lance and thank you for reminding me. That means, I think I am half way there with the blog – I swear I have put in 5000 hours into this thing the last 2 years 😉 but expertise is so far out there in our pursuits and sometimes I like it that way. Think of the pressures of being an expert. I just want to feel good about my pursuits and passions. Thank you so much for being here!

  • rob white

    Yes, great article Farnoosh.
    The way to have a breakthrough in life is to become wonderfully obsessed. When we are consumed with a passion we are compelled to practice, practice, practice. A funny thing happens when we are wonderfully obsessed… there is no more need for “discipline” … We are left with only that which must be done.

    • Farnoosh

      Thank you Rob, nice to see you here. Well-said and well-put. And you are so so right – I don’t need any discipline to make myself do my passions – the real ones just push me forward. And yet I never thought of it that way. Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts and for stopping by!!

  • Steve@Internet Lifestyle


    You had me interested in this article from the very first quote. (what a great one, both snarky and hitting the mark on the importance of practice over “genious”)

    Practice is not part of the equation it is the majority of the equation. I must say one thing that annoys the crap out of me is when people say something like, “well that is easy for you” for a reason why they cannot do something.

    I am not a “natural writer”, I am not a “natural” runner and I am not a “natural” marketer. Any skill I have in any of these has only been acquired from practice and effort. making tons of mistakes and learning from them.

    Heck, I think I have even mentioned not having an ear for poetry at all here before, but I even took a shot at one (linked below) for Christmas. -of course it is a lot easier to have a format like “night before xmas” to work off of-

    It is a little droll, but practice does make perfect, and it is the only way to get there. Some people will have a longer and harder time, and the leap from talented amateur to true professional may take some inborn skill, but there is no way to know if you have that skill until you have put 4-5,000 hours of practice in.

    Anyway great article! People need to get out there and practice, practice practice. It is the only way to ever get better.

    • Farnoosh

      Thank you Steve….and believe me, you are not alone in how you feel about people making those comments but it’s just hard for some people to imagine what can really be achieved after hours and hours – and then some more hours – of practice….because they simply have never done it. If I had never put myself through some of the rigorous practice, I would have never believed anyone telling me I can make the kind of progress that is possible. So in a way, practice amazes us and looks and sound and feels like magic but it’s a lot simpler even though it is not easy to achieve…..So very happy this post spoke to you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in such transparency with us, Steve!

  • Keith Davis

    Hi Farnoosh
    Great piece as usual – your writing just keeps getting better and better.

    A line that caught my eye…
    “Fall in Love with Your Practice”

    I would take that a step further and say, practise things that you are already in love with.

    For instance, when I wanted to lose weight I looked at dieting and I looked at exercise.
    I hate dieting but I love exercise… so I practise exercise and it keeps my weight down.
    Easy because I was already in love with exercise.

    Another line I liked…
    “All practice takes hard work but not all-hard work is practice”

    It’s a great line but if I were using that line in a speech, I would change the “takes” to “is” so the line would read…

    “All practice is hard work but not all-hard work is practice”

    That’s just me looking for good lines for speeches. LOL

    • Jamie Farrell

      Keith – I was glancing over this page and your reply caught my eye, “I would take that a step further and say, practise things that you are already in love with.

      For instance, when I wanted to lose weight I looked at dieting and I looked at exercise.
      I hate dieting but I love exercise… so I practise exercise and it keeps my weight down.
      Easy because I was already in love with exercise.”

      2 quick notes: 1) I love the quote you wrote – ‘practice what you love’ and would take it a step further and say, “love what you practice” -which I believe is a different connotation.

      In terms of exercise and weight, I have the same ‘issue’ and am working on training my mind to turn a “need” into a “want”. Oddly enough, I can do this in conversations with others – I can motivate teams of thousands of people to turn needs into wants – but cannot do so on my own. I’m wondering if I can somewhow incorporate your comment above to help do so.

      • Farnoosh

        Hi Jamie, just finished leaving you a comment at your blog after reading your latest post – and I have no doubt that if you find the right motivation -down to the right words the right promises and the right core reasons – then you can definitely get on your path to get in whatever shape you desire. I know there are things I do for others so much better than for me but I am closing the gap with a lot of awareness. We have to live what we preach and I am sure practice plays a key role there for all of us. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and I wish you the very best in your journey!!

      • Keith Davis

        Hi Jamie

        I thought that I was the only one who read the comments. LOL

        If there is one ting that I’ve learned in my considerably more than 30 years, it’s that if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing… you will eventually stop doing it.

        The exercise / losing weight thing worked really well for me but not everyone likes exercise.
        People tell me that I’ve done really well keeping the exercise going, but the truth is… I love it.

        The hard part is finding something that you already love in a particular situation.

        • Farnoosh

          Keith, so nice to see you jumping in here! I can attest to your big true statement – you don’t’ love it, you stop doing it! (The worst part about this – way off topic but anyway – is when you love something and your spouse doesn’t and you really love doing it together…quite the dynamics..but I digress). I love exercise too and Keith, you are lucky to love something so good for you and know it and respond to it…!

    • Farnoosh

      I love getting corrections and grammar advice from my readers, believe me, I do, Keith, because it means they are so comfortable and they are reading my stuff – and that makes me so happy. So nice of you to say that my writing is getting better – thank you!!! Thank you for the wonderful suggestions and for adding that we should identify that which we love….Yes it was implied but it’s better to say it explicitly. It’s so nice to see you back here, thanks so so much for your kind and useful comment….!!!

      • Keith Davis

        My apologies Farnoosh.

        If my comment came across as a correction… that was because of my own poor writing style.

        • Farnoosh

          Keith, if it were a correction or grammar, please do not apologize – please know that I appreciate it…..and on second read, I see that maybe you meant just a different way of saying it. Either way, I ban apologies altogether ;)….thank you!

  • RinatisDinoro@SmartAboutThings

    Thank you Farnoosh :) I was expecting a post like this

    • Farnoosh

      You are welcome, Rinatis.

  • Jessilicious

    Hi Farnoosh!

    Ahh yes, practice…. I have to agree that it does deserve the pedestal and worship… 😉 And thank you for this reminder of how important it is. I think it tends to get overlooked because it is so basic, so common sense… We think that it can’t possibly be that important, since it’s not a BIG, NEW concept that will rock our world… 😛

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Jessilicious, gosh I love that name! You are right, yes it IS basic, it IS common sense, it’s even simple – but not easy – and if we only just chip at things one tiny bite at a time, they will continue to grow and blow us away by their amazing progress. Practice, practice! Thanks dear Jessilicious for our thoughts here!

  • Jamie Farrell

    I loved this post, but I do think you forgot 1 thing: the importance of practicing the RIGHT way or you will learn bad habits. For example, if you want to learn to shoot a soccer ball and are practicing everyday for an hour – but striking the ball with the wrong part of your foot; you are teaching yourself to use the wrong part of your foot / kick incorrectly.

    To add to this post, perhaps there’s another post speaking to ‘before practicing something, here is what or who you should seek out’ – Just a thought ( ;

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Jamie, I am sure I left out many many aspects of practice – and that’s why I have brilliant readers leaving brilliant comments like you! And seriously, what you bring up is sooo true – I know that the wrong type of practice builds awful habits….And breaking those habits sometimes takes a Herculean act….thank you so much for this great addition and your thoughtful posts here!!

    • Keith Davis


      You are right, practicing the right weay is important.
      Once a fault becomes ingrained it is difficult to remove.

      BTW – With football / soccer knowledge like yours… you could be in line as the next England football team manager. LOL

      • Jamie Farrell

        Keith – Ages 5-8 – first years in football – trained exclusivly in the summer by the English. Ages 12-17 – Trainer over from England as personal coach ( ;

        2 torn ACLs and 3 surgeries later I discontinued playing “real” football, gave up my spot on the national championship team, etc. and when I was 21, ived in England for 6 months – playing football everyday…

        So yes – I agree – the English are the best when it comes to football ( ;

        • Keith Davis

          Sorry to hear about your injuries.

          Where did you live in the UK?
          And which football team did you support.

          Farnoosh – hope you don’t mind me using your bandwidth, it is Christmas after all. LOL

          • Farnoosh

            I’ll bill you for the bandwidth later, Keith. Right now I am just super impressed with Jamie’s football experience…..:)!

  • Aileen

    Farnoosh, I love this tribute to Practice! YES, it deserves the glory you shine upon it and YES it deserves to be on a pedestal.
    “When you practice consistently at something, it shows – whether you like it or not.” So very, very true. When I played instruments and sang I remember trying to lie to my teachers about practicing and they always knew when I wasn’t practicing. It became pretty clear that one can’t lie about practice – it shows.

    It’s often tedious and not exciting – and improvement often happens is small increments – it’s an easy thing to put of until “later” – and yet it’s the key ingredient to success and achieving goals.

    I truly love this tribute to Practice!

    – and your Yoga poses are incredibly inspiring – as well as your love of Yoga.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Aileen, it’s wonderful to see you so close to the Xmas break. So so nice of you to share my love of practice. Practice doesn’t put up with lies, yes – it’s brutal honesty with practice all the time. Thank you dear Aileen and we know well that your consistent practice with the nut cracker paid off big time. Many many thanks for being here and sharing these thoughts!

  • Armen Shirvanian

    Hi Farnoosh.

    It is me the amazing Armen. I am not flexible like you.

    Your point about practice is duly noted. I thought of a follow-up to this, in that anyone reading this post should then make a list of abilities they currently have that they are not willing to give up. These would be things like intermediate-level piano playing or speedreading or writing habits or woodworking skills or certain fitness levels or so on. Then, after the list is done, you then know what you are required to practice. We do lose the items we don’t maintain like this.

    I have been posting every day for the last few days now and will continue through my 12 days of posts, and this writing practice/routine is valuable to me.

    You’re cool as usual and happy holiday period to you. You are among a group of people I can easily see running the show in 2011.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Armen, flexibility is not a gift, my dear, it can be had by practice and I am sure you could blaze past me with the right type of practice.
      This is the most brilliant suggestion you have made – thank you. I am going to take up your advice and make that list here, and make it transparent to everyone….then pass it to you. The levels vary. The passion is deep in all and there’s no way I am giving them up! Let’s see:
      -Writing, Yoga, Photography, Tango, Meditation, Cycling, Public Speaking, Reading….
      Just the top ones….I have hours of practice ahead no doubt. I better get to it! Thanks so so much for the closing words of huge compliment. And I am very proud of your 12 day posting schedule….best of luck Armen!

  • Rebekah

    The style of this post expresses your energy perfectly!
    YES, increments. One of the intoxicating feelings in yoga, the last 3 months, is the small, miracle-like advances that seem to appear out of nowhere because of practice; “Hey, look! How did that happen?” or what felt like a labored reach suddenly feels like a luxurious , triumphant stretch.
    I love the way practice also becomes a secure, familiar place you can inhabit. It welcomes, shields, enables, calms, focuses, and encourages once it’s created, becomes something bigger than we are and lends a support of its own, as with habits of courtesy, public speaking, and so many other topics you’ve discussed.
    “Drawn by desire,” said a short-story writer once. Thank you for another great post and continuing yoga inspiration!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Rebekah, how interesting that you pick up on the style – I was trying a different style of writing (and was full of energy when doing it). You are brilliant, Rebekah! I have been following your yoga journey and delighting in your miracles almost as much as you.”Drawn by desire” – beautiful phrase along with everything else you say about practice. I am so happy you are embracing yoga this way and that it is rewarding you in return. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Zeenat{Positive Provocations}

    Hi Sweet Farnoosh,
    I *bow* to practice and so happily so…cause its so much more than “just practice”.
    I remember a time when I was in school and although I was great at sports, I just couldn’t get my hand right with throw ball. I don’t ever give up…never ever! While i was practicing alone in the court one evening(i was about 14)…my school principal(who really looked like a modern version of Santa Claus) passed by. He came over, threw a few shots with me and said “child, practice with passion and patience”…and he just smiled and walked off. After that I went on to join the team and play for the interschool tournaments, but not without putting in hours and hours of practice.
    My point…passion, patience and Practice go hand in hand. One is incomplete without the other two…If you truly want to become the ‘expert’ or the ‘grand master’.
    But i love how you have put practice on a pedestal….it truly deserves all the glory and so much MORE.
    So Much Love to you,

    • Farnoosh

      Dearest Zeenat, how did I know you are into practice of all your passions and why doesn’t your story at sports not surprise me one bit? I do love the 3 Ps: Patience, Passion, Practice….A great blog promising blog post. Thank you for dropping by and your vote of encouragement on practice. We will keep glorifying it then because it continues to give back so much. Thank you Zeenat for sharing and for all your love and support – you know it’s mutual! :)

  • Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion

    Hi Farnoosh, my first time in your neck of the woods here and loved this post. The concept of ‘celebrating practice’ is a beautiful thing, and frankly, just as you stated, doesn’t get the attention nor appreciation it deserves.

    That’s also why I never see a blog article as ‘an article wasted’. Sure, some are a hit. Others dud-out. But the practice I got from the experience– well that can always be celebrated and recognized.

    Again, very well said and I look forward to reading more of your works in the future.

    • Farnoosh

      Hello dear Marcus, welcome welcome to prolific living then. I am so glad you want to glorify the practice of our passions too. I am very happy you stopped by and I am replying to this JUST before I go to my yoga and meditation practice – I really live and breathe the stuff I write or else why bother 😉 – come back anytime and I hope the other articles are also useful to you.

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  • Travis

    Practice is indeed an important aspect of living, but I think most people view it as a usage of time rather than something that sculpts their life. There are only so many hours in the day, and how we choose to use those hours is completely up to us; whether they’re spent enhancing our mind and body in some way, or sitting idly by, the decision is ours. Practice then isn’t just a way to pass the time in a productive manner, rather it’s an instrument that defines our everyday being, as it’s WHAT we choose to practice that defines us.

    Of course, practice doesn’t have to be mundane and boring either. I’ve been trying to practice Arabic everyday now for months, and while it was initially frustrating and difficult, it’s gotten to the point where I really enjoy it! It’s actually something I look forward to doing each day, because I find conversing in another language to be pretty fun.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Travis, so happy to hear you emphasize the importance of practice for us too. There are indeed so many hours in a day – and in fact, I am convinced the hours are shrinking ;)! – I love how you put it: “practice defines our everyday being.” – it can certainly be so fundamental and central to our lives to do that. By the way I took Arabic – a mandatory course in 6th grade in Iran for one year. It is not an easy language and yes to how things get easy with practice. THAT is the pure beauty and joy in practice. Happy practicing and thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Hope to see you again!

  • Nea | Self Improvement Saga

    I indeed agree that practice deserves the glory you’ve given it. I’ve heard so many people say they aren’t good at something because they “don’t have the talent for it.” Personally, I think that’s usually not true.

    If there is something that you want bad enough, you can put your energy into it. Learn it, practice it, continue practicing it, perfect it. That’s the message I was given as a child and I still believe it with all my heart.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Nea, lovely to see you here and talent is IRRELEVANT. Enough practice will blow talent out of the water any day of the week. So I agree with your philosophy completely and good for you to be given such a wonderful message as a child. I had to find it as an adult. Thanks for your wonderful comment!

  • Andrea DeBell – britetalk

    Hi Farnoosh! I’m speechless when I look at your first pic. Just gorgeous pose, and a hard one also. I guess if I continue to practice yoga, I’ll get there. :)
    Something to look forward to. I love your distinction between hard work and practice. This post is jam-packed with wisdom.
    Thanks for this gorgeous reminder. Loving blessings!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Andrea, have I told you I’ve been meditating daily since that last post? :) I am loving it….and craving it.
      As for the variation of Pincha Mayurasana pose up there – which is on its way to Scorpion – my teacher Vickie would look at it and say my hips are too tight because my feet are not yet reaching my head….the real pose is “closed” in that feet touch the top of my head….one day – and YES you can get there, if that’s what you are working toward! I am not special at all, just stubborn and in love with this pose….Thank you so much for sharing your lovely wisdom here with us again!

  • jonathanfigaro

    Meditating is the great way to go. Its about silencing the mind and finding a higher level of existence. Great Post farnoosh.

    • Farnoosh

      Thanks Jonathan – easier said than done but yes, silencing that mind -which I think might take an age and then some – is our end goal….thanks for your words here.

  • HappinessandWisdom

    Practice is the key to virtually all success and I am so glad you’ve highlighted that here. In my day job, I speak of the virtues of practice and try to get people thinking about how more practice can help them achieve what they desire. All tell me they hear the wisdom in that and commit to practicing more. Most do nothing. I hope that posts like this encourage people to act!!

    • Farnoosh

      Thank you (Michael, right?) – I am so glad you are advocating what I preach here during your day job. I am so curious what do you hear as people’s reactions. I don’t think anyone can argue with it but yet something keeps us from doing the hard necessary work at times when we know that’s exactly how our heroes arrived at their destination and there is no such thing as overnight success – at least not if you are outside of Hollywood but I even wonder about that! Sad to hear that most know the wisdom but do not act on it. It would be really useful to find out reasons resist and then break down those barriers for hem. Feel free to share this post if it can help anyone! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

  • Steve-Personal Success Factors

    Farnoosh: I am curious to hear how you personally practice your writing skills. As I have been blogging for a couple of years now, I enjoy hearing from fellow bloggers as to how they are engaging in that practice.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Steve, thanks for your comment and I am also taking your question as a compliment. You know, I really love writing but I don’t write as much as I should. I used to spend many more hours writing but the last few months have preoccupied me with side projects for the blog so I am not even happy with how little I write. As for how I practice, I record my ideas and I record thoughts and even exact phrases and snippets of inspiration that come to me during drives or rides or other activities, I pull it together in a draft when back at my desk, I write the body – but in a very unorganized way – I take breaks, I stretch, I make tea, it’s a mess 😉 – but I do not publish until I am thoroughly happy with the voice of the writing. I read it out loud and make sure it is in the tone I meant to write. And I do make myself write various guest posts and do it for other audiences to stretch beyond comfort zone of this blog. Just some ideas. Hope it helps? How about you, Steve?

  • John Garrett

    Hi Farnoosh,

    I hate to say it but I’m a living example of this. I used to play the saxophone every day, but I let it lapse and now my jaw feels like it’s on fire when I try to play longer than 10 minutes :)

    Also, I had worked myself up to a level of proficiency with 3D artwork, and then stopped. Now I’ve forgotten most of it and I’ve been putting off picking it up again because I know I will be starting over almost from scratch.

    Still, it’s hardly over. I’ve resolved for the new year to regain these skills and keep them this time. Reading this post is steeling my resolve to do it.

    Thanks for writing this and I hope you have yourself a wonderful new year!

    • Farnoosh

      I can *see* you playing the saxophone, John- you have that musician face and gaze…and gosh what amazing hobbies and skills and proficiencies you have let go but you can regain it, again, with lots and lots of practice. I envy musicians. They are different people altogether but they all understand each other. The language of music is one worth re-pursuing! I am very happy that you have resolved to regain those beautiful skills and wish you the very very best – seriously, there is nothing you can’t do again if you have already done it once! – thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!!

  • Laurie

    Hi Farnoosh!
    This is super insightful! It takes doing something over and over and over again before you can ever really consider yourself a master of it – if even then. That’s why practice is a part of my everyday life, without it, no one would want to watch me do what I love on stage.

    • Farnoosh

      Laurie, welcome to prolific living and thank you so much for the vote of confidence on glorifying the practice of our passions. Performers on stage are the ideal example of this. Practice is in their blood. The more effortless they look, the more they have practiced. I used to think it’s simple but it’s the hours and days and weeks of practice that gives them the ease….I would love to see you on stage. I might have to check that latest post showing up from CommentLuv here. Thanks for dropping by, Laurie, and for your thoughts!

  • Kiesha @ We Blog Better

    Hi Farnoosh,
    You’re so right to bring practice back to the forefront. My students have asked me what do they need to do to become greater writers and they often grimace when I tell them, you have to just start writing and practice doing that everyday. I guess they think you’re just supposed to magically become an expert without the hard work 😀

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Kiesha, so nice to see you here. What do you teach? I am sure your students are looking for a magical secret, for that inside scoop and something that we are keeping from them and you are giving them the advice of a lifetime. My college professor for French begged me to practice French 5 minutes a day after leaving college. Ask me if I’ve done it. No! And then I wonder why I have lost some of my proficiency in a language I adore. I have no one to blame but…. well, you get the point. Thank you for your lovely thoughts here, Kiesha! And I hope your students take you up on this!

  • arina nikitina

    Did anyone else here get kicked in the gut? LOL! Often I treat practice as something newbies or amateurs would do. Even after years of hearing that practice makes perfect, even after reading about how geniuses and stellar performers got their skills and crafts mastered through practice. But I do know as well that bloggers mustn’t just pound keyboards to produce good posts. It takes drafts, editing, other forms of drafts until we get the final product. Like hours of practicing the violin or ballet until the big event! So now, instead of waiting for the rise of adrenaline when deadlines near, most of my lull times would see me writing and writing some more. Because while I practice, learning and appreciation of what I do are heightened.

    Then in the end, the readers applaud via “likes”, retweets, comments and other feedback. Then it’s time to curtsy and rest. Until the next rehearsal. :)

    Happy new year to you and your readers, Farnoosh!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Arina Nikitina, what a gorgeous name! Welcome to prolific living. I do hope it was a soft gentle nudge rather than a kick in the gut ;)! Thank you for outlining the work flow of what it takes to write a great piece for your blog. I love your advice -and I really have to know: Do you play the violin or dance the ballet? I will be by to check your writing and many thanks for dropping by and hope to see you again here, Arina!

  • kk

    Good article, Farnoosh. I recommend Geoff Colvin’s book “Talent Is Overrated” (much better than Outliers). He writes about importance of deliberate practice if one wants to excel in something. Deliberate practice “is activity designed specifically to improve performance, often with a teacher’s help; it can be repeated a lot; feedback on results is continuously available; it’s highly demanding mentally, whether the activity is purely intellectual, such as chess or business-related activities, or heavily physical, such as sports; and it isn’t much fun”.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi KK, so sorry for late reply here…I never finished the Outliers, how did you know? ;)! Deliberate practice is a great phrase….I will use it more! Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  • Alison Moore Smith

    This post is brilliant, because it takes a kernel of truth that most people know intuitively, but not really consciously.

    I am a singer and for years people would say something like, “I’d do anything to have a voice like that.” At first, I’d thank them, but after a while I started (snarky me) saying, “Oh! How many lessons have you taken this year?” or
    “How much have you practiced this month?” or “How many auditions did you attend?”

    The truth is, most of what people *say* they want are only things they want in a magical sense. They’d love to do _________ if someone poofed it to them. But work for it? Nah! (That’s kind of how I want to play the piano…)

    Thank you for verbalizing what should understood by everyone.

    BTW, I just found your blog Monday night. What a great find! So many interesting posts. We have very similar topic categories here as those on my pd blog, many similar interests, so I’ll be reading your archives as much as I can. :)

    • Farnoosh

      Alison, a singer! I am so impressed! I love singers and artists. We simply do not have enough!!! And I love that dialogue you were having…I thought it was just me preaching the importance and the under-emphasized benefits of just regular practice….And when you realize you have to work that hard for something, you become very selective and your seriousness – or lackthereof – really comes through….Welcome to prolific living and I am so so glad that you are here….and look so forward to hearing more of your thoughts, Alison!
      ps: Do you have a video of you singing?

  • Christel

    I agreed all of that Farnoosh !
    It’s one of the big questions.
    I’m sure like everybody, it’s difficult to begin when you stopped something.
    But it’s more difficult to stop when you’re discovering this “flow” again.
    I followed arts studies 20 years ago. A training to learn to word and find inspirations. Basis, of course.
    At work it was on a computer, so my everyday practice changed.
    As a graphic designer I had many programs to learn, work to do,
    technical details to watch, ideas to find
    and no enough time to really think about work.
    Many presentations to clients, meeting collegues, shopping, tidying… and life !
    Progressively my practice slip down under the carpet.
    But a day I get stuck.
    No fun at all.
    No inspiration.
    Sad and boring days.
    Everything seemed to be a “work”
    (in the old “torture” meaning).
    Even drawing.
    So I took my paper block, I find a subject to turn around,
    and draw, draw, draw.
    everyday 2 hours at night.
    And it worked.
    Just as if it was break – but is was not, cause I worked very intensively, focusing on this 2 hours a day – some energy came back.
    And more and more each day.
    Then I realised it was not just a problem of resting,
    having holidays, seeing friends, watching fresh art, talking to mentors.
    It was about pratice what I wanted from the age of 6,
    and as long as I remember : drawing (anything) everytime I can.
    “Respiration, inspiration”

    So when people say to me “you’r gifted, you do this so easily…”
    I just think about all hours of practice ! And all the papers in the trash !

    Thanks for having highlighted this topic !

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Christel, oh la la! Thank you for sharing all the details in your entire journey until you found what others call “gift” but you know it’s a refined practice through hours of practice and I hope you never ever let it go. Thanks for sharing this. I am so happy you pushed past the boredom and found something just for you. You are most welcome and thanks again for your thoughts.

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  • Gail

    Great timing for this article. I woke up with a decision to practice my yoga practice everyday this week. I am anxious to feel where this takes me.

    • Farnoosh

      Gail, practicing daily is BRILLIANT. Go for it. I did a 31-day yoga challenge that I wish to repeat again and again …
      Enjoy and practice often!!! Namaste and thanks for stopping by.

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