400 Days Down, 600 To Go

If I had to choose only one thing to take away from the 100 Days of Practice Challenge, it would be to celebrate the success that comes from putting in consistent and genuine effort to work at something.

Today, we celebrated completing 400 days of continuous practice. How did we get here? We simply didn't stop after completing 100 days, nor after 200 days, nor after 300 days.

We haven't always been doing daily practice, especially during the initial years of embarking on instrument lessons. 400 days may sound huge, but my eldest has been playing the cello for 6 years and if you do the math, we should be around Day 2,190 now.

BUT WE AREN'T. It took us many iterations to work out what consistent practice looked like for us. What worked for that stage of our lives. We had started on and completed 100dop challenges in the past. But we would stop in relief after completing Day 100 because we would be exhausted and believed that we needed to treat ourselves to a 'well-deserved break' after completing the arduous challenge.

What was truly hard at first got easier with each year, with each round of a new 100dopc. This time though, the youngest - who was 4 years old at the time of tasting the sweet success of her first 100dopc, had announced "I want to complete 1,000 days of practice!" Clearly, she didn't know that she would be 7 years old by the time that happens. But it didn't matter. That statement is why we are at 400 days of continuous practice.

It has become a tradition for them to answer 'interview' questions that invite them to reflect upon the last 100 days of practice. In exchange, they earn the opportunity to build their own Swensen's ice-cream sundae. At the beginning, they moaned and groaned a little about how hard the questions were. After 4 rounds, they now ask to play the game, are eager for their turn, and more comfortable and forthcoming in responding.

Their thoughts and responses have become more reflective, more articulated and yet, still delightfully expressed in the words and manner of young children. For this round, I designed the interview questions around the F.A.M.E qualities of Focus, Attitude, Mastery and Effectiveness:

"How did you behave when you were focused during a practice session?" "I switched my brain to 'Cellist Profile' and concentrated only on playing the cello."

"What did you do when you didn't feel like practising?" "I thought about what I like about playing music. That made me feel like practising."

"What did you get distracted by? How did you stop that distraction?" "I was distracted by the other pieces that I had to practise. So I stopped the thought in my mind. Like use my mind to block it."

They know that after today, they have 600 more continuous days of practice to complete. We calculated that they would be 7, 9 and 11 years old then. Surprisingly, nobody moaned about it. Instead, they saw it as 6 more celebratory sundae treats to earn and enjoy.

I will be making our 'Build A Sundae' Celebration Game available to all our Parents Can Coach members in June, in anticipation of our families reaching Day 100 over July and early August. That would fit nicely into our theme for June on 'Sustaining Positive Change', which is what we need to do in order to get to Day 1000 (and to my sweet, hard-earned OVERSEAS VACATION. Yet another ice-cream sundae isn't going to cut it by then!)

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