During a recent conversation, an acquaintance made a brilliant comment that I felt I needed to share: “practice makes permanent.” For all I know this may be an old saying, but I had never heard it before, and I immediately loved it. Usually we say, “practice makes perfect.” But, seeing as how nobody can achieve perfection (despite our best efforts), practice simply can’t make perfect.
The expression “practice makes permanent” is much more accurate for a couple of reasons, both of which are extremely valuable to us. Mostly, practicing something regularly will make us better at what we are practicing and create a permanent habit. Of course, forming habits takes perseverance, courage and self-discipline. When I started reading up on the topic, I came across a great article by Jessica Lawlor. She had some great suggestions for establishing and maintaining habits, which I’ll quickly summarize:
- Don’t give up- forming habits takes time. One study shows that it actually takes 66 days to make something a part of your daily life, so much that it becomes automatic – a lot longer than the 21-day theory we’re used to hearing. The key here is to PUSH THROUGH the discomfort.
- Stay positive. Like anything (new relationship, new hobby, new job, etc.) there’s a honeymoon stage. For the first couple of days, you’re all about achieving your goal. But the honeymoon phase can wear off fast. And THIS is when you need the most resolve and positivity. Read all about the habit forming process here.
- Get an accountability buddy. Make your habits public and share them, with at least one person; when you do, you are accountable, not only to yourself, but also to whomever you share your goals with.
The second, beneficial reason why “practice makes permanent” is that practicing something regularly actually changes the neurological circuits in our brain. This is called ‘neuroplasticity.’ It’s like we’re getting twice the value for the same effort. As explained by an article in Psychology Today, neuroplasticity is the process through which thoughts, experiences, and actions transform the brain. The way it works is that each time a memory circuit activates (used, remembered, applied), electric impulses travel through it. These impulses generate connections among the brain cells of that memory circuit. The newly enhanced information becomes more durable, more readily retrieved, and more easily applied to new applications.
Even better, “genius is more than genes”, meaning that every brain is capable of neuroplasticity regardless of the brain that we’re born with. With practice and effort, we can build the brains we want, just as exercise builds our muscles.
So, the next time you’re beating yourself up because you haven’t mastered the tango or been able to commit to those healthier lifestyle choices, just breathe and keep practicing. Remember that perfection is not attainable, and permanence is a process.
Written by Destiny Van Rooy
Destiny is our Client Experience Coordinator. She has extensive experience with much of our behind-the-scenes legal work and knowledge of the criminal case process. Her background helps our business and client service continue to grow simultaneously, by making sure that the human element of the legal experience is not lost on the good people we represent. Destiny moved to the Northwest from Arizona, promising to never look back. She’s fully embraced her new life in Oregon and loves riding her bike around Portland. She also loves meeting new people, dancing, crafting and catching live music shows with her husband, London.