The Big Dilemma
When it comes to hobbies and personal plans, I have a problem with unfinished projects… There, I said it. It’s not something that’s new to me, although I admit I didn’t recognize it was happening with my piano hobby until recently.
So What does this mean? It means I love starting, planning, and setting out to attack the most interesting challenges I can find, and I do it! Usually with great success, because I have done all that initial analysis, preparing, studying what to do, learning the best way to do it…
BUT THEN… All that rush starts wearing off and it’s like all the plans and ideas I had in mind just go to the background and stay floating around waiting for me to bump into them, which more often than not ends up not happening. And I know: As with most things in life, you can’t expect your progress to be exponential. It’s more like an S curve. This means you get a slow start that may quickly start ramping up. That’s the rush I’m referring to – when you’re learning something new, and actually feeling yourself progressing at a fast pace. Well, I don’t know if it makes sense to you, but maybe it’s not really about the speed at which you are progressing – you may not be learning that fast – it’s more about the acceleration, the change you are feeling, that’s where all the excitement comes from. This feeling will eventually wear off, and you will find yourself climbing the S curve. Personally, it seems like whenever I get to that point (where progress is no longer exponential but becomes somewhat linear… The moment I break that rhythm (that is, when for some reason I stop practicing or investing time in whatever that hobby is) it becomes super hard to get back to it.
I’ve identified this in myself and I recognize it makes no sense. I mean, just like when you’re driving a car, just because you’re not accelerating, it doesn’t mean you’re not going somewhere. If you’re going at a steady speed, you’re definitely going places! And it’s the same in piano, or whatever your personal project is.
Later in this post, I’ll tell you what I’m doing to fight this, but for now, having to describe my situation in a few words, I’d say this is the main issue that I have.
The Action Breakers
The Imminent Question
Let it drag for long enough and you may even find yourself wondering if you really love your project. I mean, it’s a fair question. If you’re not feeling like doing something, maybe you’re not that into it, right?
Well, I believe that’s misrepresenting the situation. It’s not that you don’t like it or don’t want to do it. Many times you do want to do it and you wish you were doing it, but for some strange reason, you don’t find the power of will to go ahead and just-do-it!
How Do You Snap Out of It?!
So what am I doing about this, and what are some actions that may help you?
I definitely want to keep playing, no doubt about it. So what can I learn from other areas of my life to avoid getting in this situation again?
Well, professionally, I find none of this actually impacts me, since I am focused on my tasks and there is a constant feeling of responsibility and accountability. That really gives you something to reflect on while trying to fix this problem. The thing is, in hobbies, most of the time you’re on your own, free to do as you wish, whenever you’d like to, so it’s much easier to get sidetracked.
I believe the most important step is recognizing that even in hobbies we love, life is not always a dopamine rush. I guess it depends on what your hobby is, but, if someone wants to be good at something like playing the piano, dedication is key. You’ve got to do the grind! Yes, you need to get your ass to the piano bench and pick up that piece you’ve played a hundred times already, or pick up that finger exercise that you’re still struggling with, practice sight reading… And yes, I’m totally projecting this to you, this is what I have to tell myself, but it is universally true! Oh by the way – if you asked me what the hardest part is in getting back to piano after a big break – to me, it is reading the music sheet :D(my brain gets super laaaazyyyy if I don’t practice :D)
Anyway, above all, I believe it takes commitment and consistency. How can you achieve these?
Achieving Commitment and Consistency
One way of being committed, and I’ve mentioned this in the blog before, is getting a teacher. It’s not something I’m doing right now, but if it works for you, you should definitely go for it.
There are, however, other ways to do it. Tell a friend or a family member about your plans. It makes it less likely for you to fail on that goal – I guess my version of this is telling you!
Oh and make sure you book the time for it. Don’t just decide that you will play for one hour, actually plan in advance at what time of your day you’ll be doing it. I like to do it in the morning, before any other activity. Maybe you’d rather do it before sleep. Whatever fits you best, but plan it and add it to your calendar app or write it on a note somewhere to make it official!
Putting it on your schedule ahead of time will also help with my other point, consistency!
About consistency, one thing I would say from my own experience is, obviously, don’t take long breaks. But if you do, get back on track asap. (When you practice consistently (say, one hour every day) you build up momentum. I find it becomes kind of automatic, and you gradually build up your practice habits. That’s precious! Because in the end, it’s how much you practice that makes the difference. Talent? Hmm, I don’t like the word talent. Cherish those habits! If you feel that you’re starting to get a little routine going, keep it up! Don’t waste it!
To help with consistency, I also use an app to track my practice hours. That’s how I always know how many hours I’ve practiced for, whenever I make a progress video. It also shows me if I’m accomplishing my practice goals, which may help as a motivator or as a reminder. I’ll eventually cover that in detail in another post 🙂
Habits, Habits, Habits
Look, I’m in no way an expert in any of this, I’m just sharing some tips that have worked with me in the past. I have a hundred ideas I’d love to bring to this channel and if I want to make them happen, I have to make sure I am consistently focused. Following my own advice, from now on I will be actually allocating time in my daily schedule for these tasks
Still on the topic of building habits, I recommend you check the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a very pleasant read and it gives you truly actionable advice on how to build lasting habits.
Hoping it will motivate you as much as it did me, I’ll read you a quote by James, the author of the book: