Lack of motivation to practice your guitar is silently killing your dreams... and you may not even know it's happening.
Are you one of the millions of guitarists who struggle with finding the motivation to practice? What’s all the fuss about? You want to get better, right? You have gone through the trouble of setting goals for yourself, right? You may have even gone and created a practice schedule for yourself.
So where is the motivation to take action?
The secret to motivation lies, hidden in plain sight, within that last question.
Read it again:
Where is the motivation to take action?
There is a big, fat misconception staring you right in the face. If you haven’t spotted it yet, don’t worry. It’s not exactly what you might call obvious.
The misconception is that the question implies that motivation is needed in order to take action. In other words, motivation precedes action. Though this is definitely true in many cases, it is not a requirement. In fact, it works much better the other way around...
When you force yourself to take action, it often inspires motivation.
It may take several days or several weeks, but eventually your repeated action will inspire you to become motivated to practice on a regular basis. I challenge you to give yourself 30 days of no excuses, and commit to a once a day practice session.
You don’t have to practice an hour everyday. Just commit to some practice everyday for the next 30 days. Even if you just pick up your guitar and run scales for 3 minutes; it counts.
I guarantee that if you can commit to this challenge for 30 straight days, your motivation will be much higher on day 30 than they were on day 1.
And if it isn’t, then you simply have found out that your guitar playing goals really don’t mean that much to you, and you can go find a different passion.
Either way you win.
On the one hand you create a reliable stream of motivation to practice; on the other hand you save yourself a bunch of time worrying about something you don’t actually care about.
The concept of using action to create motivation is not a new one. It is essentially a commitment to being proactive. It embodies the idea that you cannot just sit around and wait for things to happen to you. You have to take action and create opportunities for yourself.
No one else can do this for you.
You alone hold the key to your success.
Ok, I’ll try to tone down the self-help guru talk. Sometimes I just can’t help myself... when something makes so much sense, it fires me up and makes me feel like shouting from the rooftops.
If you think about it too deeply it may start to seem a bit cliche, but it really is true. Proactive people win over reactive people.
Don’t think; just take action. When you react to something it usually leads to excuses. When you’re proactive the excuses don’t have time to manifest.
Now, what can you do to make this 30 day challenge a bit easier for yourself?
I’m glad you asked.
It involves taking a few small actions to set yourself up for success.
First, you have to figure out what your anti-practice triggers are. The distractions that you come across in your daily routine that may cause you to default on your commitment to practice.
One extremely common obstacle that we all deal with on a daily basis is television. Think about how many hours you waste sitting in front of your TV. I’m not preaching, or shouting down at you from a soapbox... I’m just as guilty and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Ok, maybe a little shame, but self-pity is toxic and we all really should be nicer to ourselves.
Some of us may not have much of a problem cutting down on our TV time, while others may be completely freaking out at the mere thought of less time in front of the tube.
TV is a great distraction. It can be very useful at times (like keeping up on news and current events) and it is a great way to relax after a long day. It is a necessary tool in our society and I’m not saying you should never watch it again.
Just put it off a little longer at the end of your day. If you’re anything like me, then as soon as the TV comes on, it’s over; I have officially surrendered to my procrastination.
Another efficient action you can take to increase your chances of success is to leave your guitar out on a stand, or somewhere that you’ll have extremely easy access to it. If you can set it out where you have to walk past it all the time; that’s even better.
I noticed this, years ago, when I moved to a new apartment. My previous place also served as a rehearsal space for the band I was in at the time (this would’ve been back in 2004).
In fact, the dining room was our jam room and we left everything set up 24/7. I lived with the drummer and the bass player, so we decided it was best to just leave everything ready to go for those moments when sudden inspiration would strike.
Not only did this strategy work great for the band as a whole, but I found that was practicing on my own all the time. Literally everyday, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day (ah, those wonderful college years when we had all the time in the world and no clue what to do with it).
And wouldn’t ya know; I had to walk through the dining room, right past my guitar every time I went in and out of my bedroom.
So then we, as a band, decided to move to a new city; Fort Wayne, IN. We were trying to find a place where all 4 of us (drums, guitar, bass, and vocals) could live together, but what landlord in their right mind would rent to 4 dudes in their early 20s?
So, we had to split up and get 2 separate houses.
To make a long story short, I ended up living in the house we did not practice in and carried my guitar back and forth. This meant that when I was at home, my guitar was in its case most of the time, tucked away out of sight.
Bottom line: My practice went from daily to once or twice a week, when we had band practice. Part of this was an ego thing; me thinking I was good enough to not have to practice.
But a huge part of it was that I didn’t have to walk past my guitar 10 times a day.
I didn’t have to see it sitting there begging to be played. Clearly an example of out of sight, out of mind. Of course I didn’t realize it at the time, but I have made the connection... and it has been a huge part of my practice strategy ever since.
I encourage you to think of your own ways that you can set yourself up for success. Many options won’t be very obvious to you, but all it takes is some careful observations.
Pay attention to your moods just before and just after practicing. Pay attention to the stories going on in your head. Where is that little voice that’s telling you it’s ok to skip practice today?
Find out what else that voice is saying and you just might discover some handy tricks to silencing that voice.
And once you find some peace and quiet; get to work.
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