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Procrastination: How to Overcome…



Getting Yourself Started, Overcoming Procrastination – JGT Contributor Mark Stefani revisits some valuable tips from his popular Coach’s Corner series.

I can’t get started. Sound familiar?

I thought so. As a matter of fact, those exact four words are so common that there’s even a classic standard that goes by the same title. Well, we’re going to spend some time in this edition of Coach’s Corner talking more about your goals, especially those that you know need addressing but somehow manage to remain in that dreaded procrastination slush pile, for days, months, years, or even decades of time spent in needless frustration.

I consider myself to be an excellent authority on this subject, and therefore in a perfect position to share my ideas with you. Why?

Simple. Despite what some may think relative to any visible artistic accomplishments, I’m as guilty as anyone of “putting off today what can be done tomorrow” (and tomorrow rarely comes, if you haven’t noticed). I also work with players every day who are so close to making major breakthroughs, yet continually stop themselves by coming up with all sorts of excuses for not getting started. And getting yourself started, the theme of this article, is really what it’s all about.

Procrastination Example

“Once You Get Started” is another tune, but one that you probably don’t recognize.

It’s a composition from my early writing period, and that title was reflective of the fact that I had wanted to compose for years, yet for some reason I had resisted. However, once I got myself started I literally couldn’t keep up with the flow of inspiration and energy, at one point writing a new composition every single day and developing the confidence that I could do so for as long as I wanted. Powerful stuff indeed, but it all came from taking that first step, which is much easier than we ever think it will be.

Before I move on, I do want to point out that there are definitely occasions when we’ve deluded ourselves into the perception that we should be doing something, when in reality the motivation is not authentic or coming from the heart, but superimposed due to other reasons. The result is also frustration from procrastination, but the truth of the matter is that the goal was an illusion in the first place. So how do we differentiate between the two?

You get started, that’s how. Believe me, you’ll know very soon whether this was something meant to be or not.

For me it’s typically the former, but regardless of which the result is an immediate sense of achievement and the dissipation of the frustration factor, because in reality the fact that I wasn’t getting started was the source of the frustration. In other words, my gut instinct was that I should be doing something that would probably bring me joy and fulfillment, yet I just wasn’t pulling the trigger. I see this frequently in coaching my students. At times I have to get up on the soap box and repeatedly preach in order to get them started, whether it’s a specific area of study or just picking up the instrument to practice. And I’ll tell you, the answer’s almost always the same. “Once I get started, I lose all track of time and the hours just seem to fly by!” I’ve seen enough faces, both happy and sad, to understand the root cause.

So let me leave you with a piece of advice that’s working great for me nowadays.

Consider your day a major success if you make ANY effort to get a project that you’ve been delaying underway.

When I say “any effort” I am talking “bare bones” minimum. If you feel that you should be arranging, then get started: One measure of music. If you feel that you should be transcribing, then get started: Two notes. If you feel that you should be performing, then get started: Play one song for someone. No matter what you want to do, just get yourself started!

JGT: Coach’s Corner is a long-running series authored by guitarist, educator, and Vision Music founder, Mark Stefani. The purpose of these articles is to share valuable observations and insights, gleaned during many years of personal study and teaching.

And check out Mark Stefani’s ‘Swing Blues’ course

More articles from Mark Stefani.

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