Guitar Blog

The 30-second 5th grade exercise that raises your chances of success by 42% 

Dave Tran

Remember grade school? 

Pretty much every 5th or 6th grade student learns about how to make goals for themselves.

And one of the first things teachers tell them is “write your goals down on paper.”

Why is that so important? Check this out:

“Just the act of writing down your dreams and goals ignites an entirely new dimension of consciousness, ideas and productivity to the powerhouse that is your subconscious mind.”

According to Dominican University psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, writing down your goals has a measurable, physical effect on your brain.

If you’ve got 4 minutes you can read the Huffington Post article here, but the short version is that when you only think about your goals, you’re only using the right side of your brain (the creative side).

But when you write your goals down too, you’re activating the left side of your brain (the logical side) as well. 

The result is that both sides of your brain communicate via the “bridge” between each other (the corpus callosum). 

And here’s the crazy part: 

That “brain bridge” is also physically connected to every nerve and cell in your body. And by both sides of your brain communicating with each other, your goal is also communicated to your whole body and mind.

So let’s start your Shred Strategy with the easiest part: writing down your guitar goal(s).

Shred Strategy Step 1: write down your goal (and be specific)

There are 3 things your written goal should include:

  • What you actually want to accomplish (“I want to be able to figure out how to play any song...”)
  • When you want to accomplish it (“ the end of the year...”)
  • How you’ll know when you’ve accomplished it (“...and I’ll know I’ve achieved this when I can hear a song and learn to play it within a day”)

So here’s that goal written out in one sentence:

Making big goals seem small, quick, and easy

Do you see how specific that is?

That’s a heck of a lot easier to shoot for than “I want to get good at guitar”. 

Because you’ll know exactly when you’ve achieved it.

What if you start working towards this goal and find that you’re going to achieve it sooner (or later) than you first thought? Or what if you change your mind on what you want to achieve?

That’s fine. Adjust your goal, rewrite it, and shoot for your new target.

And when you achieve your goal, make a new one and keep moving forward (unless you’re satisfied with where you are).

Here’s why NOT writing down your goal(s) like this pretty much guarantees failure:

It’s way easier to give up on your goal when you aren’t really sure what it was in the first place.

When you make a vague goal (like “I want to get good at guitar”), you never really know when you’ve achieved it. So it can feel really far off at times because there’s no end in sight. No way to tell if you’re achieving it. 

On the other hand, when you know exactly what you’re aiming at, it’s so much easier to keep moving towards it little by little. And you’ll know exactly when you’ve achieved it. 

And that’s a really good feeling.

“By the end of the year I want to be able to figure out how to play any song, and I’ll know I’ve achieved this when I can hear a song and learn to play it within a day.”

There’s only one problem with creating a specific goal to learn to play guitar:

It takes a while to get good at guitar. That’s a big goal to take on. 

Even if you’re specific about what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it, there’s still a long way to go from here to there.

And when any goal takes a long time to accomplish, it can wear on your motivation. 

(Oh yeah, motivation. Whoops, I still haven’t talked about how to fix that little problem.)

That’s what we’ll be talking about next. How to pour gasoline on the flame of your motivation when it starts to flicker out.

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Shred Strategy : Step 2