Skill Pushes and a Looming Problem: A Rudimentary Skill Push Scale

Based on previous behaviors in this project, it appears that Skill Pushes come in several flavors or vectors:

-Classes
-Time (meditating for 10 minutes to 30 minutes)
-Reps (flossing one tooth to flossing all of them) 
-Deliberate practice (focusing on problem areas and working them)
-30 Day Challenges (like my no bread challenge or NaNoWriMo, or even the 8 week HIIT thing I recently completed - “30 Day″ is just a catch all)

When I think about it it becomes pretty clear that there is a difference in difficulty or weight with these pushes. Assuming Tiny SkillPushes ™, from lowest system load to highest I’d organize them like this:

1) Reps
2) Time
3) Classes
4) Deliberate practice
5) 30 Day Challenges

Why? When I think of increasing my meditation by 5 minutes versus doing 5 more pulls on the rower, I’d pick the latter. The same is the case with adding another glass of water in the morning or going from flossing 1 tooth to all of them. I think it just has something to do with the active nature of added reps versus just ENDURING more time. Enduring is just more painful (to me).

Those two are definitely easier than classes, where you have to do all sorts of other things like interact with people and do homework. And that is preferable to deliberate practice where you have to essentially come up with your own class. There is a big difference between doing a module where you give over some agency to a program, versus poking and prodding to find what your weaknesses are. When I used to play the violin I used to absolutely hate doing this, and it’s probably why I never got really good at it despite having played for over a decade. 

Lastly, I find 30 Day Challenges to be a huge drain on the entirety of the system. When I do NaNoWriMo, I usually reduce other behaviors to minimums, though it’s getting easier. Also challenges are challenging and are not tiny pushes by their very nature.

As an aside, classes used to be incredibly difficult for me. But incorporated as part of an established habit, I sort’ve go on autopilot. Homework? No problem, because I no longer do everything at the last minute. I automatically start doing something, so simply processing what another person tells me to do (rather than trying to figure out where my effort has to go myself) is exponentially easier. It’s also an important reason why all this self-help stuff should be incorporated together as part of a whole system.  

But why was my 8 week HIIT program so easy? I think it’s because I was mixing variables. It was a part of an established routine which is based on time - 30 minutes. The HIIT was more intense, but it was for a shorter time.

I think skill pushes can mix and match these variables. If I were to go to a meditation retreat I would consider that a “Challenge” - but it would be a challenge because it’s increasing time of practice to several hours a day. At the same time, I’m presumably not doing ANY of my other routines while on retreat. It’s also not forever, while things like flossing would be an increase for GOOD. Though presumably a retreat would make a time push from 30 minutes to an hour look like nothing.

photocred: scales by Hans Splinter, violin by Jason Hollinger, doodle by Allie