How to Make Repetition More Fun and Less Boring
Do you dislike repetition?
Repetition creates boring routines that numb the mind and suck the joy out of life. This is what I used to think. And I admit sometimes I still resist routine.
The thing is: repetition is a fundamental part of the laws of life.
Imagine if gravity decided to take it up a notch (or tone it down a bit) because it was bored. That wouldn’t be fun for us—we’d be either compressed to the ground, or floating in the air.
Life repeats itself with every breath, every heart beat and every sunrise. When the routine of life breaks down momentarily (earthquakes, tsunamis and so on), it’s because nature is rebalancing.
We are also creatures of habit and repetition. We eat the same foods, perform the same tasks and hang out with the same people. We repeat the same activities and then we get bored.
“Nature is an endless combination and repetition of a very few laws. She hums the old well-known air through innumerable variations.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Repetition gets a bad rap because it stands in the face of spontaneity and variety. It creates comfort zones that imprison us; it becomes our jailer.
This is one way of looking at it. But like so many things in life, repetition is neutral. We polarize it by our choices.
Repetition is an activity that can be used or abused.
Repetition creates habits—good and bad.
Repetition is the mother of skill and mastery.
Repetition sets beliefs that empower or impair.
Repetition can be our best friend or our worst enemy.
We can focus on the boring and destructive side of repetition, or we can make the best of it.
How can we make repetition fun?
We’re going to use repetition to start something we’ve been yearning to do but can’t get excited about because of the dread of repetition and practice.
Here are five simple steps that will help in the process.
Engaging your positive emotions, especially when it comes to the monotonous, can be very motivating.
Build up anticipation and excitement about getting to practice a certain skill. Indulge in your dreams and desires. Imagine success with deep feeling to boost your motivation.
Let’s say you want to learn Spanish. Imagine your favorite Spanish actor or actress as your tutor. How fun would it be to have a conversation with them!
One small step at a time
Some projects are more daunting than others. They require a lot of work to learn the skill and become familiar with specialized terminology.
Take the example of learning how to compose music using all the technology out there—a gazillion software programs, loops, samples, instruments, plus the basics like music theory and maybe learning how to play an instrument. If I think of the whole thing, I will never learn anything.
But I can start with one thing. Learn how to use one computer program, one step at a time. I can practice each feature till I’m familiar with it, then move on to the next feature. And I’ll do that one thing over and over with the enthusiasm and intensity of a five year old.
With every step, we gain more understanding and clarity of the process. This enables us to determine what to do next when the time comes.
No time boundaries
Don’t put a timeframe on when you expect yourself to see visible results. It’s perfectly expected to struggle and suck when we start something new.
It’s best to focus on your practice and move forward when you feel comfortable, instead of forcing yourself into compliance with an unrealistic deadline.
Focus on the act not the result
When you’re starting something new, you imagine what it would look like to be an expert. But the truth is: it takes tremendous time (about 10,000 hours) with lots of repetition to master a skill.
So don’t focus on becoming the best. Focus on your practice and progress. Did you do a little better today than yesterday? It’s more empowering and motivating.
Immerse yourself fully in the experience. Become one with whatever you’re doing. Live it, breathe it, touch it, smell it, and relish it. This is the best fun anyone can have. Play and learn like a child without a worry in the world.
Back to our Spanish learning example, have a conversation with your best star. If you still can’t pronounce a word, make it up and laugh. Look up the word and try again.
A bunch of don’ts
An added emphasis here on things we subconsciously do that make us suffer with repeated activities. If you want to enjoy your repetition,
Don’t turn the action into a chore you have to do. You’re doing it by choice.
Don’t resist what you want to do. Instead look forward to it. You’ll have a blast.
Don’t procrastinate. Honor your commitment to yourself.
Don’t let doubt and fear paralyze you. Acknowledge your feelings and keep going. It’s never too late or too early. You’re never over or underprepared.
Don’t nag yourself. We (or at least I) tend to do the opposite of what nags at us (me). It’s better to cut yourself some slack and remind yourself of your reasons for wanting to learn or develop a skill. Forgive yourself for relapses and mistakes. Then move on. Keep it light.
Repetition is crucial to your growth. It’s a wonderful friend. Enjoy its company and let it help you in fulfilling your desires and becoming all you can be.