It was years ago, that I took my first 100 Day Practice Challenge.  Full of enthusiasm, I started with a bang and surprised myself with a super huge practice.  Glowing with self-satisfaction, I collapsed into an armchair, with a well-deserved cup of tea and didn’t do much for the rest of the day.  I was so pleased with myself, that I resolved to repeat the experience.  “This is the way to go,” I crowed,  “I’ll do this again tomorrow.”

When I woke up following morning, there was something uncomfortable something hanging about in the back of my mind.  “Oh… practice, I’ll think about that later.  I’ll have a a bit of a lie in, a nice hot shower and a leisurely breakfast.  I deserve it.”

Two hours later, that uncomfortable something gave me another nudge. “Not now,” I whined to myself.  Yesterday’s feat of endurance now seemed like a marathon to me.  Anyway, my arms and shoulders were decidedly stiff and I’ve had a bit of a backache.  “I’ll do a little practice this afternoon,” and I settled down to some work on my laptop.

Afternoon came.  By now my day had backed on me and there were quite a few things jostling for my attention. I must say that I am not a world-class housekeeper, but I washed the dishes.  I arranged the cushions on the sofa.  I even shuffled through the piles of correspondence on the kitchen table.  As a reward I went out into the garden to do a bit of light pruning.

Practice?  “Look at all the dishes I have to put away and… whoops! I’d better clear up the leaves and mud I tracked into the kitchen.”

Practice? My mind rebelled, my arms ached at the thought of it. “Ooh, I do feel tired and I have to cook supper in an hour. Maybe I’d better sit down and have a nice cup of tea.” Before I knew it, supper had been cooked and eaten and who practices in the evening? Certainly not me. “I’ll start again tomorrow,” I reassured myself.

The next day was spent on a guilt trip, and as I  found more and more important little things, with which to fill the day. On the 4th day, it took every last ounce of resolution to force myself to restart my 100 Day Practice Challenge.

How did I get myself into this predicament?

•1  Doing an overlong practice, when I was not used to it. Who would you dream running for 6 miles, when the normal level of activity is just running for the bus?

•2  Remaining relatively inactive for the rest of the day. This reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to restore tired muscles.

•3  Failing to realize, that there are always opportunities for 5 min practices during the day.  I could have set my stopwatch to 5 min and fitted in micro practices, between all the other things that I decided to do.  This would make the 100 Day Practice Challenge a cinch.

•4 Indulging in a guilt trip. This is a totally useless activity.  The only cure for inaction is action.

The moral of this story, is to put a time limit on a practice.  It is always best to end while you’re still enjoying yourself and before you are exhausted and have lost focus.

This is especially true, when we try to help our children to practice.  Extending a practice, just because your child is being unusually cooperative, just doesn’t work.  It really is best to stop within a preset time limit, or sooner if your child has reached the limit of his focus. You will find it much easier to get your child to practice next time and much easier to win the 100 Day Practice Journal.

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