Presence, Practice and Planning — Keys to Building Mental Horsepower

Thoughts on what it means to practice well

Darshan H.
2 min readOct 11, 2021


When you are practising, ensure your mind is fully concentrated on the practice. The number of times we chase or resist distracting thoughts and environmental distractions drastically impacts any practice session’s effectiveness (in terms of memory, efficiency and enjoyability). The effectiveness of a practice session directly affects the resulting growth and learning.

Practising; Volume and Logging

The volume of practice needs to be significant. While the required quantity can vary by activity, we must track or at the very least plan/block the practice sessions into our calendars. Our impressions of how much we practice something can be misguided if we don’t track it. If we feel that we are doing a lot of practice (when in reality we are doing little) and the outcomes are poor — we are prone to self-reinforcing thoughts of a lack of ability, thus impeding growth. Practice enough and evaluate the quality and quantity objectively.

Planning; Deliberation and Thoughtfulness

By planning, I mean carefully considering practice sessions’ composition, timing, and feedback procedure. Planning ensures we attain flow states in our work. Planning enables us to understand ourselves and our abilities better. If there is any possible way to comprehend our limitations, it is after we practice hard and with deliberation. We should by any means avoid endorsing narratives of a lack of ability before creating and engaging in practice sessions that are composed with enough consideration and thoughtfulness. Ironically, there is no point at which we practice perfectly — this is why the best are constantly improving their processes and practice. In short, never accept narratives that describe what we cannot do.

Some Nuance

What I mean by not accepting narratives about our limitations is not the same as ignorance towards constraints, nor is it a form of toxic positivity. Narratives are our mental knee jerk reactions to the experiences that we live through. After we go through an experience, it is a natural human reaction to create a storyline that explains the event.

These stories hold beliefs and judgements that are typically disguised. We are often too lazy (maybe scared, uninclined, or biased?) to question or re-assess these beliefs and opinions. But the beliefs have a strong influence on our actions. Tieing the logic together, if we hold an impression that is not entirely true but feels very true, it can harm us.