You may have heard stories of Tom Morello or Derek Sivers (or whoever) practicing guitar for eight hours each day.
It’s easy to hear that and think, That’s what I have to do or If only I could find the time or Someday I’ll figure out how I can practice that much.
Just stop right there. Your problem isn’t that you’re not trying hard enough. Your problem is that you’re inconsistent in your efforts.
Allow Me To Repeat
“Just try harder” is a recipe for failure. It doesn’t matter how hard you’re willing to work. “Get better at guitar” isn’t an item on your to-do list, it’s the result of the daily habit of practicing things just outside of your reach.
The most important thing in that last sentence is the word DAILY.
The second most important thing is “just outside of your reach.”
Getting To Daily
This could be the subject of its own post, but let me give you the bullet point version.
- Lower the threshold of success. If eight hours a day is what it takes to consider the day a success, you’re never going to start. How about 15 minutes? Shit, how about five? You can add more time after you’ve achieved consistency.
- Keep track of your wins. Put big Xs on your calendar, sign up for the free Don’t Break the Chain, or get the $2 Streaks app. But make sure you’re keeping track of your wins. You’d be surprised how motivating this is.
- Celebrate your wins. Getting to put another X on your calendar is a little thrill in and of itself, but don’t stop there. Do a little happy dance, pause for three deep breaths & a smile, pump your fist in the air, yell “O’Doyle Rules!” Whatever floats your boat. Just don’t skip this step––the reward cements the ritual in your brain.
Once you’ve installed daily practice in your life, the next step isn’t to increase the amount of time spent practicing––it’s to get consistent about what you’re practicing. You’re not going to see the change you want by half-assing your way through yet another song. Identify some song, technique, or weakness that you want to work on, and commit to working on it daily for 30 days (or two weeks, or whatever).