Arne Jenssen

Focus on the process, not the outcome — How I taught myself to juggle

2016-07-03 - Arne Jenssen

In 2001 I got three juggling balls as a Christmas gift. Juggling looks like a cool skill to master. I tried many times over the next years to learn to juggle, but would always fail, give up, and put the balls aside to let them gather dust for a long time.

But in 2009 I decided to do things differently. In the earlier attempts I had focused on the outcome, the ability to juggle. This time I focused on the process instead.

I committed to practice every day for 10 minutes, not caring so much about the outcome. I’d put three songs on the playlist and practice until the music stopped. After 21 days, skipping only 2 days, I got the hang of it. The moment of victory was exhilarating. I was finally juggling.

Small consistent actions will eventually prevail. If I had focused on the outcome, the ability to juggle, each of the 18 first ten-minute sessions would have been a failure. That is discouraging. However when focusing on the process, each ten-minute session was a success, regardless of the ability to juggle. Because my primary goal was just to practice for a certain duration.

Ultimately, this experience was much more valuable to me than the ability to juggle. I realised that focusing on the process, in many situations, makes it much easier to stay motivated and persist.

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