Practice Makes Perfect – Process vs. Product thinking

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When I set goals for myself, I used to make the mistake of focusing on the product, not the process.

So what is the difference between process and product thinking and why is one better than the other?

When you focus on the product you have…a product, a thing, an inanimate object, an end result.

When you focus on the process, it affects and changes you. You struggle, learn, practice, improve, grow. You come out of it a different person than going in.

If you have a goal, say to write a book, the writing it is the process, the book is the product. Most of us get caught up in the book. We want it to be good. We want it to sell. We want the prestige being an author brings. We want approval and adoration.

There’s nothing bad about wanting any of those things, but it doesn’t have anything to do with actually writing.

Most goals/dreams (however you want to label it) require knowledge and skill of some sort and the only way to get is it to do it. In order to learn and improve, you’re going to have to practice.

Let me remind you of the definition of practice (verb):

  • to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.
  • Carry out or perform (a particular activity, method or custom) habitually or regularly.

That’s the process. It’s that simple and that hard.

So, to continue my writing analogy, if you want to write, quit focusing on the book and focus on becoming a writer. In the beginning you will probably be spewing out a lot of crap. That’s OK. Keep writing crap because if you’re focused on the process and try to improve (take classes, read books, ask for feedback) eventually you’ll write something good.

And one day you’ll be a writer who sells books.Or poems, articles, songs, plays..

The product ends, the process is ongoing. You never know where the process will lead you.