Today you are going to learn the single most important thing there is to know about becoming amazing at guitar.
Alright, are you ready for the single most important thing there is know? Are you ready to be disappointed? Because here it is:
You can’t get where you want to go overnight.
You can’t get there in two weeks, you can’t get there in six months.
Maybe if you really busted your ass you could get there in a year, but even then, probably not.
As insultingly obvious as that is, it has a couple of implications that are worth paying attention to.
The first is: you need a plan, which conveniently I have supplied for you. And it’s a plan that works, so long as you show up regularly and do the work.
The second implication of this is that you’ll need to set yourself up for success.
Because there aren’t really any short cuts, and because becoming amazing will take some time, we need to set up your life in a way that will allow you to show up, follow the plan, and do the work. Day in and day out.
This isn’t about about wanting it badly enough, and it’s not about willpower, it’s about creating a system. In order to create this system, we’re going to hack into our habits.
Habits are powerful things. They control something like 40% of our daily actions, and yet we’re only aware of a few obvious ones.
There are two people I’d like to introduce you to. The first is Charles Duhigg, who wrote a book called The Power of Habit.
In that book, Charles outlines what he calls the Habit Loop. It has three parts:
A Cue, A Routine, & A Reward.
Let’s look at a common Habit Loop.
Your phone buzzing in your pocket is a Cue.
Pulling it out to check your messages is a Routine.
That tiny hit of dopamine your brain gets because someone is talking at you? That’s the Reward.
Cue. Routine. Reward.
The other guy I want to introduce you to is BJ Fogg. BJ is a professor at Stanford University, and he runs an online course called Tiny Habits.
In that course, he shares a formula that allows us to create new habits. It goes like this:
After I [existing habit], I will [new habit]. Then I will celebrate.
You’ll notice that Charles Duhig’s work and BJ Fogg’s work mesh quite nicely. Where Duhigg has Cue-Routine-Reward, Fogg has Existing Habit-New Habit-Celebration.
We’re going to use to this framework to create a new habit in your life. You get to pick the Cue, which will be a habit that you already have.
The cue needs to be incredibly specific. A bad cue is “when I come from work.” A better cue is “when I hang my keys on the hook.”
A bad cue is “in the morning when I wake up.” A much better cue is “when I push brew on the coffeemaker.”
When this existing habit cues you, your new routine will be “grab the guitar, open the Fretboard Anatomy email, and do the day’s work.”
It’s important that your cue is contextually appropriate, and your routine is easy to execute.
I did my part by making each Fretboard Anatomy lesson less than 15 minutes long. Now you have to do your part by either picking a cue that’s near where you keep your guitar, or moving your guitar closer to where get your cue.
Once you get the cue and execute the routine, it’s time for a reward.
Now some habits we have, like eating a little ice cream before bed, have very clear built-in rewards.
Other habits––like eating right, exercising, and practicing guitar––need time for their rewards to accrue before they become obvious.
So we need to create an artificial reward. Maybe that means you do a little victory dance, or mentally congratulate yourself for being awesome.
Maybe you mark a big red X on your calendar so you can see how many days in a row you’ve executed on your goal.
It doesn’t really matter how you choose to celebrate your win, what matters is that you actually do it.
For some reason, this step makes people self-conscious, and they skip it, which causes the whole framework to fail.
You don’t get to skip this step. The celebration is not optional.
OK, two tasks that you need to complete today.
The first is to mentally accept that there aren’t any short cuts worth taking, and that this project requires you to show up day in and day out for probably two years.
The second is to use the framework we learned today to create a new habit in your life, the habit of sitting down with your guitar & the Fretboard Anatomy email and getting to work.
I’ll see you tomorrow.