How to Stay Motivated
Are you struggling to stay motivated to keep learning guitar?
Everyone knows that you should practice regularly to get good at something. But if you’re anything like me there are times when you just don’t feel motivated.
- Life could be really busy and guitar takes the back seat
- You might feel like you’re not progressing enough, or
- You could just feel like you’re in a guitar playing rut
This is completely normal! And it will happen several times over the course of your guitar playing journey. The key to enjoying learning and playing guitar is to find ways to get through the dips in motivation.
Today I’m going to share with you five things I found to help me stay motivated. This isn’t an exclusive or definitive list. In fact, I would love for you to share they ways you stay motivated in the comments!
But with all my years of playing, here are the ways I’ve been able to stay motivated.
1. Create Short Term Goals
Creating attainable short term goals can go a long way to keep you motivated. It gives you something practical to work on. It doesn’t need to be anything lofty.
Just make sure the goal is Specific, Measurable, and Time Bound.
For example, let’s say you want to work on playing an exercise faster. Set an ideal tempo you want to be able to hit, and give yourself 30 days. Slowly speed up the metronome throughout the 30 days. You have a specific goal (speed), a way to measure it (tempo), and it's bound to a time (30 days).
It can also be encouraging to chart your progress along the way. How fast did you play it on day one? Or fifteen? Seeing how far you've come can give you a boost of motivation.
2. Practice A Little Every Day
I like to schedule my practice times. I know that if I don’t schedule my practice times, there’s a good chance they won’t happen!
Try and schedule 10-15 minutes per day at a time that works for you. A lot of times 10-15 minutes turns into a lot more. It’s OK if it doesn’t though. Just by setting aside this time you’re creating a habit. This habit is a powerful tool to help you progress in your guitar playing.
Regular practicing turns into regular progress. Seeing your progress and growth is highly motivating.
3. Try Something New
If you tend to work on the same things every time you pick up your guitar, you’ll find yourself getting a little unmotivated or bored. It can be refreshing to work on something new.
I like to add something new to my practice routine every week. This could be a new exercise for something you’re already working towards (like speed). Or something entirely different.
If you’ve been working hard on scales, try to learn a finger picking song or pattern for a week. You’ll find that when you go back to the scales it will feel fresh. The newness keeps you interested and engaged. And of course makes you a more well rounded player.
4. Take Some Lessons
This is especially useful if you don’t currently have a structured lesson plan. You might want to learn new techniques or styles and don’t know where to begin. Having a qualified instructor makes all of the difference. You’re not left wondering where you should go next in your playing.
If you prefer a go-at-your-own-pace lesson style, and especially if you’re new to guitar playing, try a structured online course. Structured lesson plans build a solid foundation. And they help keep you engaged and motivated.
5. Watch An Inspiring Movie
Good movies have a way of giving us inspiration. They transcend entertainment and become motivation for us. Themes of excellence, persistence, and overcoming obstacles can carry a lot of weight in our real-world lives.
I recently saw Bohemian Rhapsody. Watching all of the really good guitar players gave me a great deal of inspiration. It made me want to go home and play guitar. It’s a wonderful thing.
(The 1980s Crossroads movie with Ralph Macchio and Steve Vai is another one, though very different.)
Bonus Words Of Wisdom
This might seem counter-intuitive, but it comes from years of experience.
Everyone feels more motivated and less motivated at times. This is completely normal.
Early on I used to beat myself up if I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. I realize now that it just makes things worse. I encourage you to allow yourself to feel the ebbs and flows of the guitar playing journey without going into guilt mode.
It’s okay to take a break sometimes. That could be taking a break in the middle of your practice session. It could also mean taking several days off from playing your guitar.
This may sound like it goes against some of my earlier advice, but it doesn’t. I’m talking about strategically taking a break every once in a while. Removing the ‘burden’ of practicing and making it fun again when you come back.
This combined with a regular practice schedule and setting short-term goals could be just the thing to give you a boost. And if you come back at it reinvigorated you’ll be a better guitar player for it.
I hope this list gave you some good ideas to work on. Just by reading this you made another step in your guitar playing journey. Good job!
And thanks for being a part of this community. If you have something that helps keep you motivated and inspired, let us know in the comments.
(I’d especially love to know the movies that you’ve found inspiring!)