Today I drove sixteen hours––by myself.
Within ten minutes of arriving here in New Orleans, I had my guitar & metronome out and I was practicing.
This isn’t because I have some superhuman willpower for practicing guitar. No, I’d much rather be sleeping, or showering, or any number of other things that would make me more welcome in polite society.
But I also don’t want to break the streak I have going––today makes 55 consecutive days that I’ve practiced a minimum of 30 minutes (and most days at least twice that).
Don’t Break The Chain
This is the fabled Jerry Seinfeld don’t-break-the-chain method. He tries to write new material every day, and each day that he does, he marks a big red X on a calendar. Once you get a bunch of X’s in a row, you won’t want to mess it up by missing a day.
In lieu of a paper calendar full of red X’s, I’ve been using the Streaks app to track the days that I’ve practiced.
Since I started tracking in July, I’ve only missed a handful days––once when traveling sans guitar, and once the day I ran the Chicago marathon.
It’s the Observer Effect in action––the act of measuring affects the thing being measured.
So although I’d rather be relaxing, I know that if I miss today’s practice, it’ll take me from Christmas to Valentine’s to build up another 55-day streak.
What To Do With This
Set the bar low––if you have to practice for two hours to earn your big red X, you’re going to miss days all the time.
But if you only need 5 (or 10, or 20) minutes to “win,” you’ll show up more often and oftentimes you’ll practice longer anyway.
We’ll talk more about establishing a good practice routine soon.
As a sort of meta-commentary on this, this last-minute post means that I haven’t missed once since I (quite arbitrarily) decided that I would post new blog posts every Tuesday & Friday.
That photo is my car. On my way here a suitcase fell off a pickup & got flattened by a semi before I rolled over it; I’m calling that slipper my Christmas stocking. 🙂