I just read something that blew my mind.
Something that maybe shouldn't have, because its obvious, and logical, and, above all, simple.
It's something that immediately sparked me into action, got me thinking differently about how I approach several aspects of my life, including writing this blog and doing my own practicing.
And it’s something that could help you make practicing music a habit.
Babauta cut to the heart of something I've been struggling with, and something you may be struggling with too.
Sticking with it.
I'm great at coming up with systems. Structures that should get me from where I am to my goal. Where I want to be. I fabricate 'awesome' and well thought out ways to change or develop habits, to create more, practice more.
And they never work.
It's not because the systems aren't sound. Or that the logic is flawed. It's that once everything is place, you just have to show up and do the work.
To quote a recent blog post from one of my favorite blogs, The Sparkline:
"Everything changes when we stop thinking about how to get ahead or skip steps, and focus instead on building consistent, repetitive creative habits."
That got me asking, how can I build consistent, repetitive habits? Well, they answered that too, by linking to Babauta's post.
About a third of the way through the post, he starts a list of 8 Ways to Motivate Yourself From the Beginning, because he feels that starting well, and with the right motivation, can build momentum for whatever you are working on.
And then there it was, the thing I read that blew my mind.
Step 1. Start Small.
Reading that made me feel like Bill Murray in What About Bob when he first learned about baby steps.
Reference for all our readers too young to know what this movie is.
What does starting small mean?
The post gives the example of developing an exercise routine, and that you shouldn't start out working intensly 5 days a week. He says, instead, that you should, "do small, tiny, baby steps."
Commit yourself to something so simple, so easy, that you can't fail. Like 2 minutes of exercise every day.
Or 2 minutes of practicing EVERY DAY.
In the beginning, it's more important to develop the habit than to put in loads of time through brute force and will power.
Why I Think Start Small Resonates So Well
Babauta's ‘start small’, echos a theme that we use at On Chord Academy. Any student who has come in for tutoring during our Practice Master Class knows my number one rule for learning anything.
Break it down and slow it down.
Or in other words, start small.
If you try to do everything all at once from the beginning you're going to fail. It's simple. We learn to walk before we run.
First thing's first, go read the post on ZenHabit's if you haven't already.
There are 7 other steps in the beginning habits list, and another 20 tips for sustaining motivation. I'm sure they are awesome, even though I haven't read them yet.
I was so excited to write this post and start "starting small" that I immediately left the site and starting writing this post.
So what I want you to do now, is figure out how to start small with your practice habit.
It could be deciding on a set time every day where you're going to get your two minutes in.
It could be figuring out what you could also be doing while practicing, so you can tie the new habit to an old one.
It could even be finding some way of tracking your two minutes. Voicemails on your phone, skyping with someone to hold you accountable. Private YouTube channel of your two minutes.
The point is, figure out how you're going to start small, then start, and don't stop.