Ah, a fresh start! Time to tackle goals, accomplish dreams, and transform ourselves. The New Year brings about a clean canvas from which to begin painting a brilliant picture for our lives and aspirations.
However, if you're like most normal human beings, sticking to a goal and staying motivated doesn't come easy. You've committed to practicing violin, or whatever instrument you play, everyday. Some of you may last until March before losing steam; others have already felt the pangs of attention deficit five days into the new year.
Don't beat yourself up! It takes work to maintain your resolve. Life gets in the way with school, career, family, and other obligations popping up on the road to our desired destination. It's normal to get a little lost along the way. Sometimes, you may even crash altogether. That is the nature of distraction. It happens to the best of us, especially when there is no map to work from.
So, let's try. Here are four ways we can all work to stay on the track to our practice goals in 2018.
1. Keep a Practice Journal
Separate from a schedule or calendar, this is to document your notes about how practice went. Write down your feelings and thoughts. Document why you practice to keep purpose in perspective. Answer the questions -- why am I doing this? Why do I want to accomplish this goal, today? Why didn't it go as planned? Why did it work out perfectly?
If you're passionate about music, reminding yourself about how you feel about your instrument will renew and rejuvenate your practice spirit.
2. Jot Down Your Daily, Monthly and End of Year Goals
Set realistic goals for each practice session. Take into account how much time you have for each session. Daily practice goals could be as simple as playing the two notes in measure two in tune.
Go two steps further and set a monthly goal, i.e. complete one étude each month, and a larger end of year goal, i.e. perform Auld Lang Syne for family and friends at our New Year's party 2019.
3. Find Ways to Hold Yourself Accountable
Get a practice buddy. Audition for a community orchestra. Organize chamber music rehearsals with fellow and local musicians. Commit to attending jam sessions. Perform weekly at a nursing home or hospital. Go to your lessons on schedule each week.
Setting up situations in which you are accountable to others is a good way to hold yourself to the same standard. If you have to play music every week for a group of seniors at a nursing home, the more likely you are to practice, ensuring you give a good performance. If you have a practice buddy, you guys can motivate one another to keep going and staying regular.
Give your mind a break. Don't stress yourself to the point of hating the path you're on. Treat your goal as a fun endeavor, not a daunting task of which the world hangs on your shoulders.
Music is fun, and your practice is just facilitating an environment where you can have even more fun playing the music you want. Remind yourself of that when you feel unmotivated, discouraged, stressed out, or on the verge of giving up.
When you do feel stressed, listen to calming music, meditate, and employ mental practice techniques to take you away from your violin without missing a beat.
Breathe! This road is an enjoyable one. You can do it!