Whether it’s about work, family life, or online studies, we always try to do our best. But have you ever wondered why you aren’t improving on something even though you spend so many hours doing it?
According to Mindset Works co-Founder and CEO Eduardo Briceño, there are two zones that most successful people go to at any given time: the learning zone and the performance zone.
The Learning Zone (Improvement)
In the learning zone, our goal is to improve. It means doing activities and soaking up everything we can for improvement. We focus on the things that we don’t know yet. Mistakes are expected, but that’s where we learn.
It is where ‘deliberate practice’ comes in. We make time to do things that will help us improve, learn something, or master a skill.
Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, described ‘deliberate practice’ as the type of focused and goal-oriented training that people do for skills improvement. He found out that one of the most notable traits of deliberate practice is the short amount of time top performers spend on a regular basis to improve their skills. In his research paper, he found out that top performers in fields such as mathematics, chess, sports, and music engage in focused practice sessions for about two hours at a time.
Deliberate practice is not about spending many hours doing a task over and over again. It’s about consistent, structured, and goal-oriented work that is designed for improvement.
In the performance zone, our goal is to do something as best as we can. We focus on what we already know and minimize mistakes.
So why don’t we improve on something even though we work so hard and spend so many hours doing it? That’s because we spend most of our time in the performance zone, on the “work” aspect. In this case, there’s no room for growth or the “improvement” aspect. We spend most of our time in the performance zone because we are usually in a high-stakes environment.
In surveys conducted by Briceño, he asked educators on whether they think students consider school as a learning or a performance zone. He found out that more than two-thirds of educators said their students see the school as a performance zone. A school is a place that should be conducive for learning, but if students see it as a place where they show what they already know and avoid or minimize mistakes, it can hinder improvement.
It is not to say that the learning zone is more important than the other, and vice versa. According to Briceño, the learning zone maximizes our future performance, while the performance zone maximizes our immediate performance. Both are important to get better at what we do.
Tips to Get into the Learning Zone
If you want to spend more time in the learning zone for growth or improvement, keep these things in mind:
#1 Adopt a growth mindset
Believe and understand that you can improve your skills.
#2 Set a goal
Improvement takes time and effort, so make sure that you know why you are doing it. Understand why you want to improve a specific skill.
#3 Know how to improve
Do activities that are designed to help you improve a particular skill. If you’re a student and you’re struggling to get better results, take a look at your study strategies and see how you can get the most out of your study time. Consider studying actively, having study sessions and breaks in between, dedicating a space specifically for studying, etc.
#4 Be in a low-stakes environment
since mistakes are expected in the learning zone, you need to be in a situation wherein if you commit mistakes, the impact will not be significant. CFI’s free online courses provide a low-stakes platform for you to attempt exercises, make mistakes, and try again. As a student, you can execute and perform, but always take time to reflect on what you could have done better. Learn from your mistakes and solicit feedback so you can improve.
Get into the learning zone at your own convenience with online learning. Corporate Finance Institute has a variety of courses and resources that can help you advance your career! Check them out below: