The malleable brain
The brain is pretty cool. It can become good at recognizing patterns. You do that every time you read. As kids, we have to make the sounds for every letter. As we get older, we merely look at words and know their meaning.
Similarly, a chess player doesn’t think about every conceivable move on the chessboard. He (or she) reads it like you read a word in this sentence. It just makes sense to you.
For this reason, people can do extraordinary things like playing blindfold chess (a kind of chess where you don’t see the board, but have to remember it all). American Timur Gareyev played 48 chess games blindfolded while riding an exercise bike for 50 miles. The 28-year old won 35 of the 48 games (with seven draws and six losses).
I still can’t remember that phone number.
But the point is that I can’t do this because I haven’t focused on this particular skill. I can learn - like anyone can learn - because the brain is malleable.
And as we get better at something, we get more definite ideas of what ‘good’ is, and that sets us on a virtuous path: A clearer mental representation of what good looks likes makes us better at self-correcting. Which, in turn, creates better mental representations.
But you got to start with just one thing.
So maybe ask yourself this one question: What would you love to master when 2020 comes to an end?
I invite you to answer that question and create a clear mental representation of what it looks like to be good at your chosen skill.