Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why bother!

Sometimes the stack of stuff on the stand is overwhelming. We try to get a running start with intentions of covering everything, but after only a short time the give-up syndrome takes over as nothing feels right. Yesterday might have been fantastic, but it's just not working today for a bunch of reasons, or no reason at all. Was lack of motivation the problem, practice habits, or something else?

How about an adjustment of our definition of progress. Ideally every day is a day of hard, wise practice with lots of noticeable improvement and satisfaction. Real life is rarely that good however. The reality is that the biggest obstacle to improvement is not so much technical as it is mental.

On days when nothing feels right, here's the chance to remember why we're practicing. It's about improvement, not performance. Getting better is the goal. That happens at a variety of speeds, sometimes quickly, most times gradually. The important thing is to ensure that it happens every day. On those down days, just make sure there is some progress even if it only feels like maintenance.

Adjusting our expectations will help when we encounter frustrating practice sessions. Temporarily lower the bar and just keep plugging away at basic small tasks. Inspiration will come and go, but execution must be automatic. Many things can be practiced diligently apart from bursts of enthusiasm. Remember, your daily goal is improvement, not perfection.

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