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Plateaued and not improving, losing motivation to practice?

I looked down and there it was.

My brand new guitar sitting in its case. I knew I should be practicing. I had promised it myself.

But somehow, you know…

I had to admit: “I am starting to lose my drive for guitar. I feel like I haven’t progressed in last two months.”

Suddenly I realized that I had been sitting in a plateau playing the same riffs and licks over and over. I couldn’t find it enjoyable anymore.  I’ve gotten extremely bored playing guitar and I felt that I can’t go any further like this.

“This sucks.”

Even though I had promised myself that this time it would be different, it wasn’t. And even with my brand new guitar I was not able to ignite my inner fire again.

I hit the rock bottom.

I didn’t have a clue what to do because I had never felt this low before.

And yet, here I am 10 years later, running this blog to help aspiring guitarist overcome plateaus and mental barriers.

You see, we all hit plateaus, we all feel lost and frustrated from time to time even though we love playing guitar. It’s perfectly normal to feel like this. The key is not to give up. No matter how hard things are, you cannot quit.

Imagine you are a mountain climber climbing up the Mt. Everest. You have just passed elevation of 8000 m and now you’re in the “death zone.”  It is 30 degrees below zero, wind is fiercely blowing into your face, you are exhausted and barely can breathe. You consciously know that at this elevation you are basically dying and yet you have to move forward.

Going back is not an option right now.

Even in these extremely cruel conditions you have to think clearly, otherwise you are in serious trouble. No matter how low you feel, you’ve got to put one foot in front of the other. And then repeat until you reach the summit. You know what you are after, now you just need to keep climbing. There is no doubt that your physiology has to be superb, but so has to be your mindset.

Every plateau and every mental barrier can be overcome with the right attitude and thoughtful planning.

In this article I want to show you how you can develop the kind of mindset that will help you move forward no matter how hard things are and I also share with you a 4 step process how to crush your plateaus and barriers.

How to strengthen your mindset?

So, how do we strengthen our mindset?

We do it by changing our perspective. Most of the time the obstacles and barriers we face are not that horrible. We usually experience some minor disadvantages or not optimal conditions. That’s how life works. The problem is that we interpret them as huge impediments.

And not only that.

We start to believe that those obstacles are here forever and we cannot do anything about it. We feel helpless and powerless and that makes the whole situation even worse. That’s why we need to change our perspective. We need to learn how to be more resilient no matter what is happening around us.

You don’t have to feel helpless; you can choose to feel whatever you like to feel. Yes, that’s right. It’s a choice. And you are the one who can choose.

There are several ways you can start strengthening your mindset:

A/ Start reading 10 pages of a good book a day. (Or as much as you like)

It doesn’t really matter if it is fiction or non-fiction. One thing that you’ll realize by reading more good books  is that your problems are not that unique. Every obstacle you are facing right now has been overcome by somebody in the past. History repeats itself.

I’ve already recommended few books that helped me in the past but if you feel like you really hit a wall I believe Meditations by Marcus Aurelius could be helpful.

B/ Put uplifting quotes and words of wisdom where you practice

I got this idea from Ryan Holiday and it helped me immensely to get my focus right. Try it and see for yourself. Below are some of my favorite quotes:

“Setbacks or problems are always expected and never permanent.” Ryan Holiday

“Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.” Publius Syrus

“Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.” Marcus Aurelius

C/ Watch a good movie or inspiring TED talk.

D/ Go for a walk or run. Changing your physiology will help you change your mental state.

E/ Turn off your computer, take pen and paper and think.

F/ Do all of the above.

All of the above steps will help you with changing your perspective and maybe you’ll start to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Once you got a little bit of your drive back, you need to start working. You won’t improve without taking action. Now that you understand that every obstacle is an opportunity for you to grow, it will be much easier to put in the needed work.

Most aspiring guitarist won’t ever be satisfied with their progress because they have never defined what success for them looks like. If you don’t know where you are going, you can hardly ever arrive.

If you want to overcome you current plateaus, if you want to get your motivation and confidence back, you need to find your problem spots and then find ways how you can improve them. If only by 1%.

You know for sure that what you’ve been doing so far is not really working, so stop it.  It is time to try something new. Continue Reading →

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Are you stuck in a rut? Try this approach to get unstuck

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2012 was a phenomenal year for British cycling.

Bradley Wiggins became the first British rider in history to win the Tour de France – world’s most prestigious three-week-long race.

The story behind his victory is rather fascinating.

In 2010 Dave Brailsford became the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky. Brailsford is a man who masterminded British cycling team’s amazing success in Bejing 2008 (14 medals). As the new  Manager he had put up a plan to win the Tour de France in 5 years.

He was wrong, however. They made it in 2 and half years.

Not only that. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London British cycling team dominated again. They won 12 medals, leaving other countries far behind.  In 2013, Team Sky repeated their Tour de France victory; this time with rider Chris Froome.

Could all these victories be accidental? Hardly.

When it comes to acquiring peak performance under most stressful conditions, Dave Brailsford is a genius.  He really understands how to optimize every aspect of ride’s life to produce outstanding results at the right time.

We always start by analyzing the demands of the event we want to win, so we really figure out what would it  take to win whatever it is we  want to win, then we prioritize because you know you can’t win everything, you know you will lose more than you win, that’s for sure, so you decide what you want to win, and then we work back to where we are  today and look at the gap between where we are today and what we want to win, and create a plan and execute it. Dave Brailsford

Brailsford secret weapon is the concept he refers to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.”

Here’s how he explained it:

The whole principal  of marginal gains came from the idea that if you broke down everything that could impact on a cycling performance, absolutely everything you could think of, and then you improved every little thing by 1%, when you clump it all together you get quite a significant increase in performance. Dave Brailsford

In cycling world that means improving obvious stuff like rider’s nutrition, training sessions, bike ergonomics, etc.  But Team Sky doesn’t stop there.  Fascinating thing about Brailsford’s approach is that he surrounds himself with a supportive team of “secret squirrels”, a small group of people who look outside of cycling industry to look for latest innovations that could be applicable to cycling. This way they make sure to take advantage of cutting edge technology.

When you look at all this, suddenly all those victories don’t look so accidental but rather carefully designed. Continue Reading →

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