The correct use of self discipline can easily double your rate of development if you are passionate about playing and practicing guitar. But if you use it in the wrong way it will sabotage your development completely.
HAVE YOU EVER DREADED THE PRACTICE?
– but then found yourself enjoying it once you got started?
Have you also dreaded the practice, knowing it would be enjoyable and productive once you got started, but then failed to start anyway?! Have you ever done such an irrational thing? Welcome to the human race.
The next time you are comfortably sitting in your sofa, not really feeling like practicing, but wanting to practice, then think about how silly that really is: That no action happens even though you want to.
YOUR THREE BRAINS AND WHAT THEY WANT
Homo Sapiens is the only species that can want something and at the same time not reach out for it (practice = Reaching out) And the reason is to be found in the complex structure of our brain. We basically have three brains built as a work in progress over millions of years: A reptile level, a mammal level and the uniquely human level consisting of the frontal lobes placed right behind your forehead.
The reptile and mammal levels of the brain have zero understanding of the benefits involved in developing great guitar skills. All they want is survival and reproduction. If you think of the mammal level of the brain as the level of the chimpanzees then you are not too far-off. Monkeys have no interest in practicing guitar.
So it’s all up to the uniquely human part of the brain to make that choice to practice. When you’re sitting comfortably in your sofa with all your basic needs of water, food and oxygen met, there is no reason for the lower parts of your brain to move anywhere, much less go practice and build skills you can enjoy for the rest of your life. The reptile and monkey brain is all about RIGHT NOW and has no concept of past or future.
A SPLIT SECOND IS ALL YOU NEED TO GET GOING
But this is where self discipline comes in: When you know that the practicing is quite enjoyable once you get started, but your internal lizard and monkey are too simple minded to understand the complex pleasure involved in working towards something you want in the future.
Then you push yourself to get moving. You don’t push yourself to practice for one hour, you just push yourself to get going. Just get going! Ok, now you’re standing up, now you might as well go get that guitar.
Self discipline is breaking through that resistance we feel when the lower parts of our brain doesn’t want to move, but the higher part do. But, self discipline is not what keeps us going. When you exercise your will power you only do it for a split second, just long enough to create a change. If the going isn’t pleasurable once you’re started, then stop doing it.
DROP THE DISCUSSION WITH YOURSELF
It’s absolutely impossible to develop any worth while skills using self discipline as your primary source of motivation. It’s like trying to drive a car on the batteri alone (It’s not meant for driving – just for starting and it will run out very quickly and then you can’t start again, duh)
Self discipline is short circuiting the lower parts of the brain for a split second, just long enough for your frontal lobes to make an uninhibitted decision. That short circut is simply you refusing to go into a discussion ABOUT acting, instead you ACT. This takes no time. You think about practicing and then you act.
Once you are moving, you stay in movement because you like it, not because you have to. So you basically, drop the internal talk with yourself about whether to do it or not – and instead you just do it. Does it sound too simple? Well sometimes you can do it and sometimes you can’t:
The trick is to not bitch and moan about your own perceived Inadequacies every time you don’t succeed, but instead allow yourself to be human and try again next time.
PRACTICAL WAYS TO APPLY THIS INSIGHT
1. It’s much easier to keep moving when you are already moving
Isac Newton’s first law of motion: “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force”
– When you come home from work practice right away.
– When you finish dinner, go get your guitar before you sit down.
– When you are already practicing, keep going if you can!
2. More pleasure means less need for self discipline
The more pleasure involved when you practice, the more your lower brain will want to do it.
– Drink the coffee and eat the cookie while you practice instead of after
– Practice while watching your favorite sitcom
– Think about how great it will be to master what you are practicing
– Create a better, more pleasurable practicing environment
3. Decide to practice for just two minutes
This is a trick I use all the time and it works amazingly if you keep your word to yourself.
– After two minutes has past, you can go back to doing nothing
– It’s much easier to make the decision to practice when you already are, so chances are, you will continue once you get started. And, if not, practice for two minutes and stop. You made a deal with yourself. Keep it.
Passion combined with a little planning and self discipline is a potent mix. Your passion is the fuel of your engine. Self discipline is what ignites your engine when it’s not going already. Practice using it as often as you can just for the sake of practicing more and becoming a better guitar player.