“I want to become a Grand Master”. It’s human nature to see big and this is why this answer is so typical coming from kids when they are questioned about their chess dream. Beyond aspiring to get the famous GM title, these kids have actually deeper personal values such as:
- Power : feeling strong
- Popularity : being famous
- Achievement : being the best chess player
Although the need to progress is inherent to the game of chess and is felt by many players, you might not feel it or might not be as meaningful to you.
The first priority is to make it clear in your mind and only then will you be ready for lasting changes.
Do you really want to improve?
An efficient method, which will help you figure out if you want to progress, is answering the question ‘WHY?’. Here are three questions which will help you get started.
- Why do I regularly play chess? What I am looking for in that activity?
- I really want to improve because?
- Will I regret spending time trying to improve my chess game, instead of focusing on something else? Why not?
You might realize that all you’re looking for is a form of entertainment or just being part of a community.
Whatever the case may be, you should accept the real source of your motivation to avoid chasing a dream or objective which is not your own.
However, if the words competition, achievement, win and other similar ones have surfaced following this exercise, it might be time to rethink your way of getting there.
Focus on the bigger picture
By answering the above questions, you probably mentioned some of your chess goals and I’m willing to bet that achieving them will take several months, even years.
You’re right. Chess improvement is a long-term game and because goals seem often out of reach, a lot of players enter into the vicious cycle of giving up, trying, not achieving and giving up again.
To avoid feeling frustrated in this mindset and losing all your motivation along the way, the key is to focus on building your own routine of improvement rather than focus on the end result.
Now that you are determined to get better and have started the mind shift, the next step is to ask yourself what you can do on a consistent basis (everyday, every week, every two days…) to create your own excellence. Here are some actionable steps to start with :
- Find a specific time day when you’re sure you can spend 5 minutes on chess improvement every day (yes weekends are included)
- Define on what you would like to work on (game analysis, tactics, finals study…)
- Do it every day for 30 days (no excuses everyone has 5 minutes a day)
- Reward yourself at the end of every session (avoid chocolate, go for a blitz instead)
30 days later…
After this period of time, you should notice some kind of automation appear. If not? Don’t be discouraged and simply keep the rhythm. That’s exactly how you’ll create your first habit of chess success.
Don’t forget to celebrate this small win and join me in getting ready for a second good habit!