5 Avoidable Things Keeping You from Getting Good

Updated: February 20, 2012

Corbett Barr

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If becoming good at things has become a lost art, what does that mean for those of us who still want to learn new things and become remarkable people?

Let's start by looking at all the things keeping us from getting good.

Gaining knowledge and improving your skills is the only way to get really good at something. The problem is there are a thousand-and-one things keeping us from making progress every day.

It's time to look some of those improvement-robbing sources in the eye so we can start making real progress.

If you're frustrated by a lack of progress towards gaining a particular new skill, here are 5 things that might be keeping you from getting truly good:

  1. Worshipping the "talent fairy"
  2. Since you're reading this, I'll assume this doesn't apply to you. But it's worth examining just in case.

    It's easy to get sucked into believing that it isn't worth trying something because you weren't blessed with "natural ability."

    We look at our heroes and assume they were blessed with more talent than us.

    We use this as an excuse over and over and never really commit to anything.

    Our heroes weren't blessed with natural talent. They were blessed with motivation and commitment like 99.99% of people will never experience.

    Don't let belief in the "talent fairy" rob you of your potential.

  3. The Internet
  4. For every way you can use the Internet to make progress, there are 1000 ways you can use the Internet to keep you from making progress.

    Even the good stuff on the Internet can just become a distraction from what you should really be doing.

    Take this article, for example. We appreciate you reading it, but if you don't take action because of it I don't think we've done our job.

    And don't just stop at your examination of the Internet. This goes for any gadget or form of entertainment. Smartphones, video games, TV, movies, etc. They're great in moderation, but most of us spend a soul-sucking amount of time engaged with entertainment and fruitless checking of our gadgets, email and social media.

    Put down the Internet. Start making more progress.

  5. Motivation-robbing expectations
  6. You had a dream. You started chasing that dream.

    Then you encountered a speed bump you didn't expect. You thought it would all be a little easier, so you let that first speed bump totally throw you off track.

    Most things worth doing in life are much harder than we think they'll be in the beginning. If you expect things to be easy, you'll be bummed out every time those expectations are tested.

    Think about your own situation. If you're not making progress right now, is it because your target is much harder to achieve than you thought?

    What has changed in your mind since you started working toward this goal?

  7. Taking on too many pursuits at once
  8. We like to say around here that life is richest when we become good at a lot of different things. I still believe that, but "getting good" at a lot of different things can rarely happen all at the same time.

    If you're pursuing a bunch of new skills at once, all of them will suffer. Your growth will be frustratingly slow.

    We only have so much time in a day. We have even less quality focus time in each day. Think about all the things you're working towards now.

    Is it realistic to expect growth in all of them at once?

    Could you put a couple of things on the back burner for now, so you can focus on making real progress at one or two of the most important things?

  9. Unchallenging practice

    Practice makes perfect, but only if the practice itself is perfect.

    Perfect practice is challenging practice. It's deliberate practice.

    If your practice has become unchallenging and routine, it's time to shake things up. To really get good at something, the quality of your practice is probably the thing you should focus on most.

Now we'd love to hear from you.

What else is holding you back from getting good?

What would you add to this list?

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