How much time do you spend "working" hard on your guitar abilities?
A lot I'm betting, right? But there's a good chance you're not being nearly as productive as you could be. Chances are you're focusing on the BS, on the 80% that doesn't matter and ignoring the small 20% of the stuff that leads to true mastery of music and the guitar.
But even more importantly... You might be working way too hard trying to get there.
Be honest. Does it feel like you're using too much EFFORT trying to improve? Success in learning the guitar and in life should be as close to "effortless" as possible if you do it right. And I'm about to show you how.
There's a lie we tell ourselves everyday that is actually keeping us stuck. It's the reason we're struggling in any area of life, especially the guitar.
This is critical. I want you to understand something. Something extremely important when it comes to music (and life). Understanding this will lead to a tremendous sense of freedom and incredible growth as a guitarist.
I understood it clearly for the first time when I started paying attention to what was going on around me and in my own life. The more I did, the more I started to see how undeniably true it really is - what I'm about to tell you.
It's this: People have less control over what they do everyday than they realize.
And by that I mean, we're basically NOT in control of our lives and our actions, MOST of the time. We're acting almost completely out of HABIT almost the entire time we're awake.
Here's what we would like to believe:
95% - I'm call the shots
5% - I'm acting out of habit
Here's a more accurate description:
5% - I'm using willpower to control my actions/thoughts
95% - I'm merely playing out my habits
Listen, what I just explained is something that's difficult for most people to accept, and I realize this. I didn't want to believe it either when I first heard about it. You might even be wondering what all this even has to do with guitar. Trust me, it's got everything to do with guitar and I'll explain in a minute. Just stay with me.
You see, the only time we're actually "in control" of what we're doing, is when we are using "effort" or willpower to override what we would normally do out of habit. Meaning, the rest of the time (about 90% or more), we're basically living on "autopilot", like a machine running a program.
The idea of "control" is highly exaggerated. It might as well be a myth. For most of the day, we don't have control. None of us do.
But here's the other thing: We all want to BELIEVE we do.
We don't want to admit or even face up to the fact that we're mostly out of control. Why? Because it makes life less scary. It makes us more secure to believe we're intelligent and "smart". Uncertainty isn't very comforting. It's not a story we want to buy.
But wait a minute. If we're all totally in control of our lives, then why does only 1% of all people who pick up an instrument actually stick with it? And why is the average American 23lbs overweight if we're in complete control? And why is it that it takes on average just 3 months to quit the gym after joining if we're totally in the driver's seat?
Oh yeah, sure. We're TOTALLY in control.
Yeah right. We couldn't be more out of control. And for those of you who think you're "smart" or have discipline and are somehow above this, dream on. You guys have it worse than anyone else. Being "smart" makes you believe the myth of control even more, and try to cover up in areas where you're totally out of control, or ignore it altogether, hoping it will go away.
Do yourself a favor right now. I promise you, you'll be better off for it. Both in playing guitar, and in life.
Admit that you're a creature of habit, and that the only control you DO have, is the ability to create NEW habits. That's it. Anything beyond that, and you're still living the lie.
The reality is, even during that 5% when you are in control, it's still extremely limited. Your control is limited to a "creative" reshuffling, blending, mixing, and splicing together of ideas and habits you've LEARNED and programmed into your head throughout your life. Ideas you picked up 95% unconsciously from your environment. Meaning most of your programming isn't even orignal.
Think about it. Why do people in China eat with chopsticks and speak Chinese instead of English? Environment. Why do Americans love golden tanned skin while people from Asia think dark skin is unattractive? Environment. Why do you think guitar is cool instead of the acordion? It's all the same. Environment.
Here's why this matters...
Taking charge of your environment is the easiest way to actually change your habits. The environment you choose leads to the habits you'll create. Your environment literally controls your habits.
Read that again if you have to.
Ask yourself. Why are you who you are? Where did that come from? Answer: You are who you are because of everything that surrounds you. Because of the friends, the family members, the movies, the books, the TV shows, and everything else that influences you on a daily basis.
And what's truly amazing is... you didn't have to do a damn thing to become that. You just put yourself in the environment (whether by choice or not), and you slowly became exactly like the people in your environment. You took on the same habits and thoughts as the people around you. If other people think guitar is cool, well then you'll start thinking it's cool too.
It's completely natural, and in fact, incredibly hard to try to go against the environment. This is why people who don't follow the crowd stick out. Because it's HARD.
In other words, and this is the key... Environment allows you to make stuff happen EFFORTLESSLY.
Are you starting to see where I'm going with this?
Playing the guitar is nothing more than acting out a bunch of physical and mental HABITS. Habits we choose to create.
If we want to believe that it's more than that, we're buying into our own BS, and we're actually hurting our progress.
If you keep thinking that playing the guitar is about YOU controlling everything you do instead of about giving up the whole idea of control and letting habits take over, you won't make it a goal to form habits.
Let's say you're practicing a solo. When you get it to the point where you can play it pretty good if you concentrate, you'll move on. You'll assume you've got it "down" when you really haven't.
They say it takes on average a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. Meaning spending AT LEAST 21 days doing something every day. I'd say it's closer to a month or more. And to solidify it, you'll probably need up to 6 months.
How many guitarists (maybe you) are able to spend over a month practicing any one idea, riff, lick, or song, CONSISTENTLY? To turn it from something they need to focus hard on, into a habit that requires NO EFFORT? Not many.
And how many do you see going from one song to the other every week, browsing the tab sites like it's a starving man at a buffet? Way too many bro. It's a losing strategy. In the beginning, most of us can't handle more than learning one song at a time effectively. Sure you might "sorta" "kinda" get it right. But what's the point really if you're just gonna forget it in a month, right? It's better to and internalize it 100% and OWN the damn thing.
Make the choice right now. Decide that you will turn anything you want to learn on guitar, into a HABIT. Otherwise, consider laying on the couch and watch some Jersey Shore instead, because that's probably a better use of your time.
You see, when you watch that crazy 15 year old guitarist on Youtube who's the future Jimi Hendrix, it's easy to believe that it's because he's got some amazing talent to control his fingers with absolute precision. It's tempting to do that.
But the reality is he's NOT IN CONTROL at all. In fact, at that stage of the game, that kid has totally LOST control of his hands. He's just running the programming that he's "installed" into them through hours and hours of consistent practice. He chooses which program to run, and his hands do their thing. But that's all he's doing. Just running the program, the habits.
There's no way anybody could consciously control their fingers that precisely at anything faster than 1 note per second. And that's the secret. You have to give up control, and instead settle for just directing your habits. Your hands will do their thing automatically. Don't believe for a second that it's anything more than that.
Learning the guitar is simple. But it's slow. It requires forming hundreds of QUALITY habits, and those habits aren't easily formed. They require doing hundreds of accurate and comfortable repetitions DAILY over the course of weeks. If you don't practice something completely accurately and with total comfort, you're just creating the habit of sloppy tension-filled playing. Aim for comfort and accuracy. Do that daily and you'll make it a habit even when playing fast. And we all want to play fast right?
But hold on for a sec... that's not the entire story. There is a way to make it even easier. To make it effortless in fact. It's this: Use the power and LEVERAGE of your environment. Surround yourself with what you want to become, and you will become that.
This is important: Use your environment to PULL you into playing guitar, instead of PUSHING yourself to practice. It's not only more effective, it's also 100 times easier. Pushing requires work. Being pulled, being seduced, and being drawn into picking up the guitar. That's effortless.
If your goal is to play like Jimmy Page, immerse yourself in his music. Listen to it every day. Take one song, and try to master it. Put that song on repeat and don't move on until you've nailed it. Break it down, dissect it, analyze it, study it, and absorb everything you can on it. Hang out with other people who like the same music, play the same stuff, and do the same things you want to do. Watch videos of him performing. Read some books on him. Read his interviews in guitar mags. Perform his songs for other people.
Put yourself in his world for a few weeks. And don't head off for greener pastures until you literally BECOME the music you're trying to play. Make sure you do this. The results will absolutely blow you away.
Well boys and girls, that's it. That's how you learn things on guitar fast, and make it effortless at the same time. It's not hard. It's just doing things smarter.
For more on how to learn the guitar more effectively including the most powerful practice method every developed called Pit-Stop Practicing, a list of beginner guitar songs
, my picks for the best beginner guitar
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