Sometimes we focus so much on getting great at something that we miss the opportunity we have to get better. But getting better is the first step to getting great, and the best way I’ve found to get better at anything is to follow this simple formula.
How to Get Better at One Thing in One Month
“Nobody can stop you from getting better.”
- Roseanne Barr
Step 1: Choose One Thing
We all want to get better at lots of things, but the first step to doing so is to focus on one.
Multitasking doesn’t accelerate improvement, it impedes it. Give yourself permission to deal with the other stuff you want to improve at a later date — your likelihood of success goes way up when you focus on one thing at a time.
Step 2: Clarify Your Motivation
Do you know why you want to get better at your one thing? The better you understand your motivation, the greater your chance of success. Clarifying your motivation before you begin also helps ensure you choose the right thing to focus on. (BTW: Need a little help getting motivated? Check out For The Interested.)
Step 3: Define “Better”
You can’t achieve a goal you haven’t clearly defined. “Better” is a tricky word. It can mean different things at different times. You need to define for yourself what it means in the context of your thing, so you can accurately measure whether you accomplish it. There’s no right or wrong definition of what better means, but if you don’t clearly define it, it’s impossible to ever achieve it. Consider what metrics or tangible evidence you can attach to it.
For example, what does it mean to be a “better” blogger? Does it mean you post more frequently? That more people share your posts? That your posts inspire more debate?
(BTW: Here’s how I approach writing better Medium posts.) It doesn’t matter what definition you choose, but in order to measure your progress you must choose one.
Step 4: Do Your Thing at Least Three Times a Week
We only get better at things when we do them regularly. You have to put in the work. Improvement comes from action, not intention. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. But in almost all cases you have no chance of getting better at anything in a month unless you commit to do it at least three times a week.
Step 5: Measure Your Results
Since you defined metrics around what it means to be “better” at your thing, you can now measure your progress as you go. It’s important to not only measure your results, but also to analyze them. The secret to getting better is found in what we learn from what we measure.
This varies widely depending on what your thing is, but your actions will result in a set of impacts you need to study. Learn from how people react to what you do, how you react to it, and figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Step 6: Develop A Hypothesis
As you measure the results of your activity and analyze them, use that knowledge to form a hypothesis about how you can improve. Improvement comes from making adjustments and those adjustments are inspired by a hypothesis based on the results of the work you’ve done to this point. It’s an iterative process — don’t feel pressured to know exactly how to improve your work. Remember, a hypothesis is just a theory. That’s why the next step is to…
Step 7: Test Your Hypothesis
There’s as much chance your hypothesis of how to get better is wrong as there is that it’s right. That’s fine. You’re in a testing phase and the valuable lessons you learn from being wrong help get you closer to being right. Don’t put too much pressure on your hypothesis to be right and don’t get discouraged if it’s wrong. Learn from it and use those findings to develop a new hypothesis to test again. Each step — in success and failure — gets you closer to your goal of becoming better. Even if it may not seem like it in the moment.
Step 8: Recognize That Better Isn’t Great
As you go through the month — doing, measuring, testing, and repeating — you may feel you’re not making progress, but it’s important not to get discouraged. Don’t confuse getting “better” with getting “great.” The way to get great is to keep getting better. And the way to get better is to do so one month at a time. You’re not going to get great at anything in a month — that’s not the way the world works.
But you 100% can get better at anything in a month. And if you follow these steps, you will.
One more thing…
If you found this post helpful, you’ll also enjoy my FOR THE INTERESTED newsletter.
It’s a weekly collection of 10 ideas to help you learn, do, and become better at your work, art, and life.
Josh Spector is a blogger with the newsletter, For The Interested; the newsletter is a weekly collection of 10 ideas to help you learn, do, and become better at your work, art, and life. You can find his blog on Medium.
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