It’s the one thing that sets you apart from those who have not put aside their time.
When I was 23 years old, I would often drive around in circles smoking a joint with a good friend of mine. During one particular loop, I firmly decided that I was going to learn how to play guitar. Obsession with music had always been part of my life, but somehow playing an instrument was not. I could not express myself as others could. On the spot, I announced my goal to play in a serious band by age 30.
That’s 7 years time. But I knew that if I kept up the practice routine upon reaching 30, my reward would be a lifetime of performing music.
In terms of experience, I was years behind friends and family that had been playing since childhood. Their ability never quite impressed me, however, and I knew that I could outperform them.
But it would take time. Hours and hours of practice.
The first 3 months were brutal. I wanted to quit about 100 times, and my first teacher was lazy and didn’t offer enough wisdom. I began scouring YouTube for guitar lessons, which number in the thousands.
Pounding and hacking away, I slowly picked up a technique or a trick each month. After a year, I still wasn’t that good, but I was much better than someone who had never played before, and that’s the difference.
Slowly my playing became smooth, and eventually I performed for a small audience. My nerves were haywire, but that’s part of the learning experience. I discovered The Inner Game of Music, a book that was recommended by legendary guitar player John Petrucci. The principles of this book flat out work.
Skip ahead, age 27. I play my first gig in a heavy metal band, kicked off with a high school buddy I reunited with. At age 29, I perform in a local theater on a stage generally reserved for national acts.
My goal was achieved 3 years faster than expected – but what’s the takeaway here?
Practice. That’s it.
You aren’t seeing the results you want because you forgot to practice. What skill are you trying to develop? If you walk into a room of people, how confident are you that you could match or outperform a challenger? If you spend 8 hours a day dedicating yourself to that one thing, chances are you would be looked at as a wizard, a master, a well-disciplined journeyman.
Whatever it is you are trying to do, you must keep doing that one thing until you improve, and improve, and improve some more. Letting weeks and months slip by will keep you plateaued and even degrade your hard earned progress.
One day someone will ask you, “how did you learn to do that so well?”
And your answer will simply be, “practice.”