In my recent article ‘5 Steps Toward Guitar Success Part 2‘ I talked about setting small achievable goals and judging your own achievements rather than listening all the time to the criticism of others. Today I want to take that a little further by discussing how to focus on your achievements, not your failures.
Today I was mowing the lawn, not a task I particularly enjoy, but when I was finished I looked at what I had achieved in the heat of the midday sun (yeah stupid time to do it I know!) and realised my garden looked amazing in comparison to half an hour prior. This memory will serve well as motivation in a couple of weeks when I need to do it all over again. So what on earth does that have to do with playing guitar I hear you say, well bear with me there is a point to that story I promise…
It is very easy to lose motivation when learning to play guitar, sometimes it feels like you can go days or even weeks without any real noticeable improvement. The thing is every time you practice guitar you are improving you just need a way to focus on what exactly you have achieved each practice session rather than feeling disheartened and that you are failing to become the next [insert your favourite guitarist here].
Here is a simple idea, every time you have finished playing guitar and put it back in the case think about what you have achieved that day. Maybe you were learning a song and you have commit the whole song’s chord sequences to memory, maybe you have just focused on the guitar solo and have been able to play it up to speed…
But maybe this is trying to achieve too much? Maybe you haven’t been able to play through the song yet as hoped but you can now play the intro riff and within a few days expect to have that totally perfect? You see you don’t have to put too much pressure on yourself, just think about what you HAVE achieved rather than what you consider to have failed to achieve.
“Learn to expect, not to doubt. In so doing, you bring everything into the realm of possibility.” — Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
When I was younger I had a pretty defeatist attitude toward guitar playing, if something was too challenging such as an Yngwie solo I’d just accept that I was never going to be good enough to play it. The thing is everybody is capable of learning to play an Yngwie solo as long as they are willing to spend enough time working on the various techniques, fingering and picking patterns and breaking down the solo into bite size sections to work on. Granted this could be months or even years rather than hours or days, but you CAN get there in the end if you have the determination and continue to focus on your achievements along the way.
Just remember that by picking up the guitar again tomorrow, next week, whenever, you have already overcome failure. Keep playing and most of all remind yourself regularly why it is you wanted to learn guitar in the first place, it is meant to be fun and it is something you can spend a lifetime improving on, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself!