December 11, 2023

Silencing the ‘Little Advisor’ (A.K.A. Overcoming Guitar Procrastination)

One word that seems to manifest an uneasy feeling in most of us humans is the word discipline. So often it’s associated with pain, boredom and generally doing stuff we don’t like.

As a child at school, I was often told, ‘you need to be more disciplined’ or I would overhear my mother being told, ‘Mark is a smart boy, but he lacks discipline’.

I would always find this interesting because I was an over achiever in sports and athletics. Every spare minute of my day was filled with games like cricket, rugby, soccer, basketball or tag. Or I’d be taking myself for a run around the block, or doing pull-ups and press ups.

I WAS disciplined, but not for school work.

So let’s define discipline.

Discipline is doing something you know you should do, even though you’d rather do something more fun.

It’s ‘Self Mastery’ when that little cheeky voice inside your mind says, ‘ah, you don’t need to do this, let’s just take a look at Facebook for a minute.’ That voice in our mind is in EVERYONE’S MIND.

I know that voice too well. But that voice is not you. Think about that for a second… You’re observing that voice… So it’s not really you. It’s like a pathetic little advisor.

Most people are completely unaware of this and just think that it’s THEM thinking the thought. We escape the imprisoned version of ourselves when we realize this. It’s the ingredient that determines whether you achieve mastery or not. And this applies to making the bed, doing the housework, going to work etc.

Most of us would love to master the guitar, so what’s stopping you? Or maybe it’s not the amount of guitar playing, but the way you’re practicing. Are you able to take the time needed to imprint a new chord into your subconscious? Are you willing to do the ‘pressing technique’ to nail an entire tricky chord progression? Will you do 5 minutes of concentrated scale practice or riff training?

Watch for that little advisor’s voice. Notice how it gets you to do the less important things. Its job is to distract you. It doesn’t want to be trained or ignored. We need to regain control of ourselves and do the thing we know we should do. Each time we conquer that small voice, it shrinks a little and possesses a little less power. We become stronger and more in control.

Here’s 5 tips for building motivation and ‘silencing the little advisor’:

  1. Put your guitar on a stand in the place where you spend most of your time. You’ll be surprised by how often you pick it up and play.
  2. Remind yourself why you wanted to learn guitar in the first place and visualize yourself as the guitarist you want to be.
  3. Find a friend who is into guitar and make time each week to catch up with them for a jam, share music, talk shop, and share your progress with one another.
  4. Make an achievable goal and work towards it. Maybe it’s a song you really want to be able to play. Maybe it’s playing in a band. Maybe it’s getting up on stage to perform for an audience. Choose something that’s both challenging and realistically achievable in a reasonable time frame (ie two weeks from now I want to be able to play x song) – then go for it.
  5. Make a commitment to playing 15 minutes a day. Hardly a chore, and it will turn into more… I guarantee it.

Got any more helpful tips for ‘silencing the little advisor?’ Put them in the comments below!

Happy playing guitar freaks.

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