If you want to achieve your hopes and dreams, you are going to have to practice the skills you need. There’s no way around that element of hard work, and you’ll need to set up a practice routine that will get you where you need to go.
I’m discovering the importance of a great routine as I revamp my own dream to become a musician. I’ve set aside 2 hours every day to work on guitar and singing, but setting aside the time isn’t enough.
If you are like me, you probably have tried to practice and have gotten into a slump for one of two reasons.
A: You’ve gotten bored and tired of doing the same exercises over and over again. So practice becomes something that you loathe.
B: You spend all the time practicing things you are good at, defeating the point and plateauing in your skills.
It doesn’t matter if you are an artist, writer, video maker, or professional cartwheeler. You are probably going to fall into one of these slumps, and practicing will lose its power to benefit you.
So how do you practice effectively, while improving your skills and having fun at the same time? Well, the problem isn’t you… it’s your routine.
How Typical Practice Goes
Let’s say you are a painter, and sit down at your easel to practice your skills for the day. The first item on your agenda is warming up with some free drawing, then moving into brush strokes. The brush strokes are the hard part after all.
You spend five minutes drawing and doodling, then get into the brush strokes. But no matter how hard you try to make the paint do what you want and flow naturally, it just comes out looking like a mangled mess. So, after a few minutes, you toss your brush down and walk away, deciding you have better things to do than getting frustrated.
Typically, most people will approach practice this way, banging their heads against the same wall and ending their sessions angry and confused. Then the next time you practice, the same thing happens… until you end up quitting.
Now, don’t get me wrong, that frustration is a natural part of practicing, and you need to learn new skills. But that shouldn’t be all you are doing.
The opposite end of the spectrum is simply doing the easy drawing and doodling warm-ups for the majority of your practice time. Then when you remember to do your brush strokes, the time is almost over, so you push the task aside in favor of the things you know how to do.
It’s very easy to fall into this trap, and it’s very hurtful to your dreams in the long run because you don’t advance your skills or get better.
There needs to be a balance, and in order for you to get that balance, you need an ironclad routine.
Think about a Meal
When you eat a meal, chances are there are things on your plate you don’t want to eat. The brussels sprouts and leafy salad are good for you, but they are hard to swallow. But if you don’t eat them, you won’t get healthier.
Think about how you eat for a moment. Typically, you eat the food you want to first. The food that tastes good, and then you delve into the things you have to eat, before rewarding yourself with dessert.
At the end of the meal, you can rub your stomach and feel a great sense of accomplishment.
Practicing is the same way. In order to give yourself the greatest chance of success, you need to bookend the hard skills with things you enjoy.
For example, our artist friend could structure their routine like this:
* Spend 10 minutes drawing to warm up
* Take 25 minutes and learn about brush strokes
* Take 25 minutes and start a project, such as drawing a landscape or family pet.
The time can be divided based on the length of time you have to practice, but you should aim for spending no more than 10–15 minutes on a warm-up activity, and then spend half the time on hard skills, and the other half on a project.
Starting a project at the end has two benefits:
it won’t be something you can finish in a day, so you’ll constantly have to come back to it.It gives you something to look forward to while you do the hard stuff.
Instead of leaving the hard skills to the end where they can be easily forgotten or can cause you to quit, make them be the middle. If you can give yourself something to look forward to, then the middle won’t seem that bad. Plus, the project will keep you motivated and give you a real sense of accomplishment.
If our artist followed that routine for a week, then they’d not only see their brush skills improve, they’d also get to watch their project grow over time as they kept practicing. It’s a physical manifestation of the time and effort they had spent working, and tell me that’s not motivational!
So, think about whatever practice you need to do to achieve your hopes and dreams, and try to structure your schedule this way. Leave a response to this story down below to share your dreams and how you’ll achieve it.
If you stick to your schedule, then you’ll be very surprised about how much you can get done in a week, to say nothing of a month or year!
My Own Schedule
To give an example, here’s my practice schedule for my two-hour guitar and singing sessions:
Hour 1: Guitar:
* 15 minutes warming up with scales, arpeggios, and finger exercises
* 15 minutes practicing barre chords
* 15 minutes working on strumming patterns
* 15 minutes playing/singing a new song
Hour 2: Voice
* 15 minutes warming up with scales and exercises
* 15 minutes practicing pitch (matching pitch with my instrument, singing simple songs into a tuner.)
* 15 minutes reading sheet music and singing along with it
* 15 minutes playing/singing the same song from hour 1
It’s open to change and interpretation as I reach and change my goals, and while I do get 30 combined minutes of singing and playing songs, I have to work to get there.
The schedule has been working for me so far, and I hope you look at revamping your schedule as you keep on moving towards your hopes and dreams!