Accomplishment is another aspect of life that leads to well-being and life satisfaction. How well a person achieves something depends on skills and competency which generally require mastery or expertise. As we just learned, expertise is a product of effort coupled with innate talent. If you have less innate talent, you can make up for it in effort. You must be able to sustain effort and again as discussed earlier be able to use “deliberate” practice, rather than just logging hours.
This section focuses on the skills and attitudes that promote the movement from novice to expert. Learning these skills, honing them and applying them regularly will improve your level of accomplishment and foster life long learning which is also associated with well-being. The areas that support building expertise, we will be looking at in more detail are:

1.Perseverance – Sticking with it in the face of difficulties. Many skills require hours and hours of practice to master. Likewise, worthwhile achievements for the most part have more in common with a marathon than a quick sprint. 10,000 hours is the number of hours correlated with expertise. There are some outlooks and strategies that can support keeping going which we will look at in more detail in this section.

2.Resource building skills – We have mental and physical resources of our own which we can hone to support building expertise skills. We also have external resources which we can harness. This section outlines some of those resources and some ideas about how to get the most out of what we currently have.
3.Goal setting and evaluation – Goal setting skills are a mainstay of perseverance. Staying motivated boosts your ability to persevere and setting the right goals can keep you going.
Note: Characteristics that support mastery : Honesty, patience, open mindedness, optimism.

What goal or skill would you like to develop?


Research into building expertise has shown that success is not dependant on the talent you start with but the number of hours you put in. More specifically on the “deliberate practice” you put it. Deliberate meaning that the practice includes an assessment of your current skill level, which leads to practising areas of weakness. Ericsson et al., 1993 study of musicians, suggests number of hours practice that leads to expertise is 10,000 hours. That said it’s clear that the ability to keep going for a long long time is key to building expertise. So how can we train ourselves to keep going:

1.Stay motivated: Create two sets of goals; one on the big picture or what Dan and Chip Heath refer to as the postcard motivator. This type of goal is big and bold and sets off all sorts of positive emotions. This is the one that gets your elephant moving. The second type of goal is smaller progress types. We will go into more detail in the goal setting section, because goal setting is the key to success. In terms of perseverance though small and large goals will keep you moving ahead in the short term and the long.

What is your long term vision for the goals we talked about earlier?

2.Expectations: Manage your expectations about how long your goal will take to reach. If you think the goal is taking too long to achieve you may be disheartened simply because you have not accurately predicted how long the skill will take to build etc. remember 10,000 hours is the amount of deliberate practice it takes to become an expert. This might seem fairly arbitrary figure but it is useful in terms of perseverance if you have not succeeded yet but have not done 10,000 hours of practice there is no need to get disheartened yet.

3.Self-control: The ability to control your responses is very important. If you are struggling to control yourself enough to stay on task ask yourself: Are you unable to keep going long enough to see the task through because you lack the motivation? Do you fear failure? Are you in a situation which is distracting? (note: this is not about a dysfunctional level of inability to control oneself). Find out which one applies to you and confront the issue head on:
1.Make sure your environment is free of distractions.
2.Avoid fear of failure by viewing actions and events as learning opportunities. Check your mindset!
3.Check your big goals hold meaning for you. Some of the tasks we need to do to build mastery are not fun but our big picture goal should see us through. If they do not it may be time to reassess.
4.Make it easy to get started. Overcome inertia by giving yourself a small task.
for example overdue cleaning in your house – get started by committing to just do 5 minutes by making the task smaller it’s easier to get your elephant moving!

If you are struggling to stay on task it is important to stop and assess why. But assessing if your goals are really the right ones for you is where it can all go wrong. Do you have a fixed mindset about the skills required ? Are you masking a fear of failure with what looks like a well reasoned argument to quit? Don’t be afraid to get this wrong! Take your time – talk to people you trust. If the risks and costs are low enough, if in doubt keep going.

Your body can help

New research into emotions and feed back from body shows feedback goes both ways if you are happy you smile if you are smiling you are happy. Amy Cuddy on dominant stances. Men use them woman can use them too, wonder woman stance.
Crossing your arms over your chest can make you persevere longer according to Friedman and Elliot in there 2008 study.
Tense your body for will power – Hung and Labovo 2011

Resource Building

1. Exercise : being physically fit will make everything you do easier. It has far reaching health benefits and any plan for success should include daily exercise. There is so much press coverage about the benefits of exercise I am not going to list out all the studies that prove the point. But even though we know it is good for us, it can be hard to get your elephant moving. Use your self-control strategies reduce inertia by starting with 5 mins, remove excuses by making exercise fit into your day easily. Commit to doing your exercise plan for 30 days so you can convert it into a habit. [Examples: exercise at home, walk up and down the stairs in the office. If you work on the 3rd floor use the restroom on the 1st floor! Need competition then race the elevator!]
2. Find the right people: a helper and or role model: find someone who has done what you want to do before. Find out how they achieved it. Find people who have a similar interest /outlook and want to help.
3. Build your problem solving skills: Good problem solving skills build self-esteem and promote resilience. There are standard approaches to solving problems which you can learn Examples: 4 steps (problem definition to root cause, generate alternatives, assess select, implement) solution focused find out what works else where, look for the bit that is working. Ie solutions from other industries ie check list from aviation moved to surgery. See Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. SWOT = predefined approach to problem solving. Also see Political, Economic, Social and Technological. Google is your friend!
4. Find a group: with the same goal: ie writing groups, activist groups etc.
5. Assess your goal specific skills : build on weaknesses and enhance strengths. Develop a measurable way to check your weaknesses and strengths and how to reassess them as you go, for example you may not be good at time management find ways to improve ie use a calendar then monitor how many times you were late for something compared with your pre-fix self.[IQ experiment subjects where asked to estimate mans IQ, only thing they heard was a very brief news item read by the man. The man was also asked to estimate his own IQ. He over estimated subjects where closer to actual].
Assessing your skills examples : 1. Measure how fast, how long, quality level i.e. find an objective measure. 2. Ask for reviews, ask friends or colleges to make suggestions about what you could improve upon on a specific piece of work. 3. take part in competitions.
6. Build your sense of belief: The process of building expertise builds your self-belief. Each time you develop a new expertise you build your self belief, which makes your next goal/project that much easier. Also each time you reach a goal, milestone or pebble you build your self belief.
7. Develop an optimistic outlook: Similar to the negative emotion techniques we covered earlier developing a more optimistic outlook consists of assessing ones reaction to adversity checking for distortions and looking for more positive explanations for adversity.

Goal : Write a novel


Resource area Resource/activity Measure/benefits
Exercise 30 min walking per day n/a
Helper and role models Writing group

Maggie O’Farrell

Terry Pratchett

Reviewers websites

Problem solving skills Literature review skills
Skills strengths I can read and write!

Plot construction

Skills to improve Story telling


typing without missing out words

Get writing reviews from writing group. Find editor to check work after proofing yourself.
I believe.. I can do this with a lot of practice n/a
Optimism level? 3/10 – 5/10

Improve optimise by:

writing short stories

getting feedback

writing until feedback is positive for the most part








Make a Resource Plan

Make a plan that supports your goals. Answer these questions and complete the table below for your current project.

What is your exercise plan?
Who do you know that might be able to help you or be a role model?
Do you already have problem solving skills related to the skill or do you need to learn them?
What goal specific skills do you need to succeed?
How do you plan to measure your project specific skills?
What makes you believe you can do this?
What is your current level of optimism about your goal? If it is low how can you increase your optimism?


Resource area Resource/activity Measure/benefits
Exercise n/a
Helper and Role models n/a
Problem solving skills
Skills strengths
Skills to improve
I believe.. n/a
Optimism level? n/a