Get Back Up: How to Bounce Back Fast After Falling Off the Tracks

Get back to practice before you lose your progress!



[PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION]:

“Hello, my friend. 

Today I wanted to talk with you about the consequences of losing momentum and the benefits of gaining it back. More than anything, I want to talk about how to regain momentum after you’ve lost it. 

It seems to be that players who continuously progress and improve their skills and cultivate their craft are those that are consistent with their practice, for sure. 

But there’s this little known skill that I feel like isn’t talked about very much… 

Resilience.

And that’s the ability to bounce back when you fall off the “consistency wagon.” And it’s a skill in and of itself worth paying attention to and worth developing, and worth intentionally practicing.

If you can get yourself to automate the act of practice, showing up, doing the Deep Practice, making the progress, and just make that consistent [be religiously strict about it]… Then you don’t have to worry about this. 

But I think we’re all human. And life happens. Random events can pull us away from the guitar.

We could get a night or two or three of compromised sleep; or we suddenly have a newborn baby that we have to take care of; or we are transitioning and moving across the country where we have a new job or position or whatever it is, or we get sick… 

There are all these little things that could happen that can cause us to no longer be consistent. And the longer we are not consistent, the more likely it is that it’s going to be difficult to get consistent again.

We have to motivate ourselves, will ourselves to get back on the bandwagon. 

My suggestion is there’s a way to curtail this quickly, or at least attenuate the tendency to step away and stay away

And one rule that I’ve found useful throughout my life is to never miss twice. Very simple. I think this was something that James Clear talked about in his fantastic book, Atomic Habits.

If you haven’t read that book, I can’t recommend it more highly. It’s pithy and powerful when it comes to habit formation. 

Never miss twice. 

You know, it goes in line with the never break the chain philosophy where you keep a calendar on your wall and you X out the days in which you successfully practice.

And you never want to break the chain once you get one going. I think it’s highly motivating, but I do believe that it’s more motivating when you have physical evidence of it. 

The more engaged you are in stepping up to that calendar, grabbing a red marker, uncapping it  and feeling that satisfying sound and getting that big whiff of chemicals that come from the marker and… The smell, the sound, the sight, the tactile impressions…

All of that helps to embed that behavior in a way that a digital screen doesn’t necessarily deliver. It’s not that you can’t do it. I use some habit tracking apps on my phone, certainly, but it’s very helpful to have something printed out and some physical way of moving a pin onto a pad and sticking it in there to signify that you just did the deed that you are so dutifully committing to.

So that’s cool. Don’t break the chain and never miss twice. 

If you miss once, it’s a fluke. If you miss once, it’s an accident. If you miss once, it’s something that you were forced to have to do for whatever reason, because life gets in the way sometimes. 

But if you miss twice, that’s a habit [waiting to happen].

If you miss twice, you’re, you’re creating consistency around comfort and comfort is way easier to take hold than discomfort. 

And so the amount of time it takes for you to create consistency and momentum when it comes to practice is probably three times the amount of time it takes for comfort to settle in and worm its way into your brain and convince you, seduce you that, 

“Hey, you know, you don’t really need to practice today. You deserve a break, don’t you? And you’ve been doing so good for so long, you might as well step back.” 

And there is utility to that. So that doesn’t make it any easier: that the arguments and rationalizations that the back of your mind will give you happen to have some validity to them. 

Sometimes you do need to step back and take a break. There’s a lot of incubative power in that… Giving yourself some space to percolate. 

But when it comes to your commitment to consistency and really wanting to make that automatic, and you wanting to shorten the amount of time in which you do step away, you’ve got to ignore that advice from your brain and say, “okay… I’m not going to miss twice.”

And even if the next day you only practice for five minutes… You just keep that door open instead of shutting it. And that makes it big difference. 

So anyway, there’s a bunch of different ways you can do this. 

I like to incentivize myself with money. Telling somebody that I’ll owe them money if I don’t do my Deep Practice session, or if I don’t wake up at a certain hour or whatever habit I’m committing to that I know is important. 

It’s painful. It’s not something that I’m willing to pay for to not do, especially when doing it is really what I’m after. You know? That’s the healthy habit that I’m wanting to install.

So of course I’m incentivized to do it and it really stings when I don’t, and I set it up so that there’s no way to weasel my way out of it. I have to pay them via PayPal or Venmo that very day. 

And there’s an app you could use that does something similar with strangers or with friends, it’s called Spar! with an exclamation mark. Highly useful app, and it’s fun and connected. You get to interface with each other through video, and it’s free and it’s a nice way to get each other accountable. 

But I think the most important thing is to realize that this is a skill worth developing in and of itself, so that you don’t get set back when life inevitably throws you a curve ball. 

You can rely on some tools. And even just a mindset to say, you know, it’s not worth it to me to keep this gap going. I’m going to step back on so I can be consistent with my practice. 

Again, I know what the consequences are if I don’t. And some of the consequences  include losing progress that you’ve already made, especially if the progress that you made is new

Meaning, you’ve developed a new skill that you haven’t really worked on. It’s still fairly foreign to you, and then you step away, then you’d jump back on and it’s falling through your fingertips like sand. I mean, it’s hard for that to really take hold of, you haven’t practiced it enough. 

So new skills that you’re installing, they’re not the sort of thing you want to neglect or deny or ignore. You want to keep working on them. You don’t want to step away. 

The other thing is new speeds

If you reach a, if you break through with your beats per minute at a level that you haven’t reached before, your body and your brain and your motor functions, they take some time to acclimate to that new space. 

You know, that’s you busting through a plateau or something, and if you don’t remain consistent and nail that new speed or somewhere near it, many, many days and maybe even many weeks in a row… It’s amazing how much progress you can lose in a short period of time.

With the new stuff, the stuff that you’re more familiar with that’s just being reinforced and better solidified in your control and your clarity and your timing is getting tighter. That’s stuff you usually don’t have to worry about so much. 

But whenever you’ve been spending a significant amount of time on developing something new and then you fall off the bandwagon, it’s all the more important that you just jump right back on.

Another tool that you can use to get yourself to get back to practicing is to make a list of all of the consequences that you’ll have to deal with, if you don’t

When you look at a list of the things that you stand to gain by continuing to practice, it can also motivate you. That’s the motivation of a reward. 

But if you take a second to look at all of the ways in which you’ll be punished, in some sense, all of the things that you fear might come to pass, if you don’t continue to practice, that can be all the more motivating. 

You know, there’s a lot of over-generalizations suggesting that we’re at least twice as motivated by fear than we are by desire. And that makes sense to me simply because fear is what keeps us going. It’s what keeps us alive. It’s the response we have to genuine threats. 

So perhaps it’s true that we’re at least twice as motivated by fear as we are desire. So it makes sense to make a list of the dream. This is what happens if you continue to practice and you’re consistent about it. These are your goals and aspirations and vision for yourself. This is where you’re headed… 

But it’s just as useful and possibly more useful and possibly all the more motivating during these “gap periods” to have a list of the price you’ll pay if you let this gap settle in and you stop being consistent with your practice.

So there you go. There’s some mindsets that you can adopt that can help you bounce back should you fall off the practice bandwagon. And there are some tools and resources that you can use as well. 

The biggest thing is to pay attention to that… Pay attention to those low periods because they’re awfully seductive. And it’s way easier to remain comfortable than it is to keep pushing yourself.

You’re far more likely to habituate comfort than you are to habituate Deep Practice.

If you’ve got that deep practice thing going on, you’ve been fairly consistent about it: protect that. Preserve it. It’s precious. It’s really hard-won, hard-earned and it’s okay if life gets in the way one day, but don’t miss twice. 

Use these tools and use these mindsets to get back to practicing. Because the consequences of not doing it simply aren’t worth it.

Life does get in the way sometimes. Things come up  we can’t necessarily control, and it’s all right. You don’t have to be hard on yourself if you end up missing a session.

Have some compassion with yourself and say, “Hey man, it’s cool you missed a session, but don’t miss twice.” And have some severity about that. Have some conviction. 

If you can’t get yourself to do something and you can’t be consistent with the things you say you’re going to do, how are you supposed to trust yourself? 

And if you don’t trust yourself, how is it that anytime you set a goal or an aspiration or you say you’re going to do something, you can trust yourself to follow through with it?

It’s so important to deeply inculcate your faith and your trust in your ability to do what you say you’re going to do, especially to yourself

Because you have to live with yourself every single day, and there are countless decisions that you make throughout the day.

There are countless opportunities to do things that move you further toward where you want to go, or opportunities to move you further away from where you want to go.

Keep your promises to yourself. Fulfill those good intentions. 

This is an important thing to pay attention to because if you’re able to do it… You’re going to trust yourself all the more you’re going to be all the more confident that you are capable of bouncing back in short order, getting back on the bandwagon and continuing the progress that you’ve fought so hard to make.

I hope this serves you well.

Thanks for tuning in. And of course… keep practicing. I’ll see you soon.”

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The “Perfect Practice” Approach that Can Lead to Meaningful Gains in Mere Minutes...

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Free Video Training
How to Practice for Maximum Progress

The “Perfect Practice” Approach that Can Lead to Meaningful Gains in Mere Minutes...

The “Perfect Practice” Approach that Can Lead to Meaningful Gains in Mere Minutes...

The “Perfect Practice” Approach that Can Lead to Meaningful Gains in Mere Minutes...

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3 Replies to “Get Back Up: How to Bounce Back Fast After Falling Off the Tracks”

  1. Love, love, LOOOOVE this. Content in these little snippets is invaluable. Glad you’re starting to become more of a hands-on guru for guitar instead of me just getting to see your advice in the Guitar Acceleration course.

    I especially loved the Never Miss Twice tip. Will definitely be using this!

    1. Just re-listened to this (without multi-tasking or distractions this time…for the most part) and saw this:

      “If you can’t get yourself to do something and you can’t be consistent with the things you say you’re going to do, how are you supposed to trust yourself?

      And if you don’t trust yourself, how is it that anytime you set a goal or an aspiration or you say you’re going to do something, you can trust yourself to follow through with it?”

      This is so me right now. I get discouraged because I’m like the boy who cried wolf. Because of that, it’s hard to trust my intentions. I’m a natural “starter” and a terrible “finisher.”

      It’s 1:35 am and I’m going to practice at least 5 minutes before I go to bed. Much has happened lately to derail me off my intended bedtime and practice routine; it’s time to take it back!

      Thanks again for the kick in the butt.

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