The key to success is inspiration. If you keep yourself inspired and motivated, and avoid getting burned out and discouraged, you'll keep learning. There will be no end to it. This might seem obvious, but it is often misunderstood.
Years ago, someone said to me, "I wish I had your discipline, to sit there and practice so much. I'd love to be able to play guitar like that, but I just don't have that kind of discipline." I was surprised, because I didn't see it in terms of discipline. I wasn't forcing myself to practice. There wasn't anything else I wanted to do more at those particular times. So it was enthusiasm coming from inspiration that drove me. It was the carrot, and not the stick. And I'll guarantee you, inspiration will beat discipline hands down, every time. Inspiration is the great motivator.
The real question, then, is "What inspires you?" Maybe the answer to that question is so obvious to you that you don't even have to think about it. Great! Then skip right ahead to the summary, at the end of this section, and be done with it. If you're curious, though, and want to delve a little deeper here, read on
What is it that inspires us? Certainly, music figures in here. That is the point of it all, I think. But it's not the only motivator. Another big source of inspiration is seeing our own improvement: playing better, faster, more accurate, and so forth. And there are others. The sound of the guitar itself can motivate. Or maybe we crave to be on stage, in front of others. Maybe it's how being a guitarist and musician makes us feel about ourselves: gives us an identity we like. Maybe we want to be famous. Maybe it helps us guys pick up chicks. Or maybe it's just the general the way we feel it makes others view us. Maybe it's all of these things. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers. Just think about it for a moment, and see what resonates within you. What is it that is really important to you? What is it that drives you? Why do you want to play guitar, anyway?
Thinking about this will help you make the right choices for yourself, to stay motivated and eventually get where you want to be. What you should practice? How you should practice? Should you go to a music school? Or should you form a band? Different actions produce different results. The right actions for you are the ones that will produce the results that will satisfy your particular desires, whatever they are.
This is also important to think about because sometimes we can get buried in the day-to-day things and forget about where we are headed. We bump along, basically following what we think we want, and what we think we must do to get it. And then one day we wake up and realize that we may have lost our motivation, or a good part of it anyway, and we aren't sure why.
Well, in a nutshell, we lose our motivation when we get too far away from what it is that really excites us in the first place. And we fall prey to discouragement when what we really want, doesn't seem to be within our reach. In addition, we may change and our inspirations change, too. So once in a while, we have to re-assess. It isn't terribly difficult to get back on track, really. It's just a matter of asking yourself the right questions.
It is this theme or philosophy which basically runs throughout all the answers and advice that follow. It is all about helping you stay motivated, helping you avoid losing your motivation, or helping you recover lost motivation. Because I know that if you keep up your enthusiasm, you'll eventually get where you want to be. You'll move consistently and steadily toward all your goals: in guitar playing as well as in life in general. And you'll enjoy the process, to boot!
Think about what motivates and inspires you. Then you'll make better choices to stay motivated and go further. The two main sources of motivation for us guitarists are perhaps first, the music itself, and second, seeing improvement in our technique. Whatever it is, though, find what inspires you and use it for all it's worth. This is the foundation of everything. It bears on every question and threads its way into every answer. What should you practice, for example? You should practice those things that inspire you most, of course!