I’ve noticed from my guitar teaching experience that many guitarists often feel immense frustration when it comes to their guitar playing. And while there are many potential reasons for this frustration, a very common one is having a short-term mindset. What I mean by this is that they are putting too much pressure on themselves to progress quickly. They want to get good, and they want to get good yesterday!
On the surface wanting to progress faster and faster may seem like a positive thing. (And there is certainly nothing wrong with being ambitious!). But unfortunately for many guitarists, this all-consuming focus on their speed of progress can cause quite a few problems such as…
- A shallow level of learning. In their rush to get good, they don’t take the time to learn things properly. This means that they’ll often learn something only to forget it soon afterwards.
- Unrealistic expectations. Often guitarists underestimate how long something will take to master. They expect themselves to be able to do something by a certain date. And if they can’t they feel bad about themselves. This can often affect their self-esteem and make them feel like they don’t “have what it takes” to play the guitar to a high-level. Which of course is complete rubbish…they just haven’t given themselves enough time to learn the material properly.
- Skipping the basics. Because these guitarists want to get extremely good in a very short timeframe, they’ll often not absorb the basics before moving onto harder material. Instead, they just skip to the hard stuff hoping that it won’t matter that they can’t even do the basics properly yet!
- Unable to learn from others effectively. As a guitar teacher, I find it virtually impossible to help someone that has a short-term mindset. Guitarists who have this mindset often have totally unrealistic expectations about guitar lessons. They often believe that just starting guitar lessons will magically transform them into a great player. This is a bit like starting to take Spanish lessons, and expecting to speak fluent Spanish after just a few lessons!
So what’s the answer?
I believe that the answer is to develop a very long-term mindset. This means to cultivate the following…
- A willingness for things to take a long time. I’m not saying to expect things to take a long time, I’m saying to be prepared to practice something for as long as it takes to master. In other words, just keep patiently working until you have mastered it. Who cares how long it takes?
- Become very process-oriented. Learn to focus more on the quality of your practice and the enjoyment you get from your practice sessions rather than constantly worrying about your speed of progress. At the end of the day, you can’t really control your speed of progress…but you can certainly control the quality of your practice. You can also control the enjoyment derived from your guitar practice. If you focus on learning things well you’ll reach your goals eventually. And you’ll reach them in a way that doesn’t put too much pressure on yourself. So this will make the learning process much more enjoyable. (It’s not much fun constantly beating yourself up just because you don’t feel that you’re progressing fast enough!).
A really interesting thing that I’ve observed over the years is that the more I focus on having a long-term mindset, the faster I progress, and the more I enjoy myself. And I’ve also noticed that the times that I put a lot of pressure on myself to get good quickly, the slower I progress, and the less I enjoy myself.
Food for thought isn’t it?
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