Tag Archives: Self-control

Muscle Memory

I’ve been thinking a lot about muscle memory over the past while.  It can make us great, or make us old dogs in the face of new tricks.

Yesterday I had a guitar lesson (I’m determined to learn to play something more portable than a piano) and my teacher told me that in learning to play any new song, to practice it 50 times slowly.  To learn something correctly, without mistakes, creates a muscle memory that then will always lead you to the right chords.  To practice something at full speed incorrectly a 1000 times only conditions your muscle memory to reach for the wrong chords.  Apparently Rachmaninoff never played a piece full speed until the concert itself.

Interesting.

Jason Freid writes in his book Rework that those who have failed in business and wear the badge proudly actually have the same success rate with their next venture as those that are starting out for the first time, whilst those who have succeeded have a much higher success rate the second time round.

Children conditioned to clean their plates have a tendency to overeat for the rest of their lives.  Teenagers that binge drink tend to be more inclined to become problem drinkers.  Those active from an early age tend to stay active.

Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit.  Others have argued as much as 66 days, but either way the days are just an iota of my lifespan. Think of all the things that you could do differently in just 66 days.  Stop brushing change off with the defeatist behaviour that it’s ‘your genes’, or ‘just how things are’ or worse, ‘how you were raised’.

You can change.  It’s just a case of muscle memory.  What are you teaching yourself today?