Do you ever find that you’re not progressing on your instrument as fast as you were hoping to? You’re still not part of a band although “playing in front of a large audience” is at the top of your bucket list? We might have a solution for you.
First of all, please know that it happens to all of us. We set a goal, start a project or pick up a new hobby and it just doesn’t work out as planned. Changing our behaviour is harder than we think and our environment is full of triggers: people and situations that tempt us to postpone or abandon our plans.
In his book “Triggers – Creating Behavior That Lasts – Becoming the Person You Want to Be,” Marshal Goldsmith, bestselling author and one of the world’s foremost executive coaches, writes:
“We are superior planners and inferior doers. We make plans, set goals and fail to achieve them.”
What he’s saying is that whenever we make plans, we should be aware that there’s a planner inside of us, who is motivated and really wants the change. And then there’s a doer who has to execute on it. The planner is great at handing the job over to the doer. The doer, however, is often not so great at actually getting it done.
In order to succeed, Goldsmith states, we need structure in our lives and offers a simple solution in the form of “active” questions you ask yourself at the end of each day.
All active questions should start with “Did I do my best today to…”
Write down the behaviours that are most important to you. This could be behaviours that help you live a fulfilled life or questions related to your instrument. Or both.
At Modern Music School, we’re convinced that you can make progress without having to practice a lot at home. But, of course, every skill requires practice and the more you practice the better you become (read about perfect practice here.)
So if it is your goal to practice more your active questions could be:
- Did I do my best to practice?
- Did I do my best to be fully engaged?
- Did I do my best to learn something new?
- Did I do my best to have fun?
- Did I do my best to celebrate my progress?
According to Goldsmith, for most people, these questions fall into the following categories: health, family, relationships, money, enlightenment and discipline.
So other questions you might want to ask yourself are:
- Did I do my best to have a healthy diet
- Did I do my best to exercise?
- Did I do my best to say or do something nice to my mother/father/friends
Use these questions to evaluate yourself to see how much progress you made towards your goal(s). A simple “no” “somewhat” or “yes” is enough to record your data over time.
Asking “Did I do my best …” puts the focus on the one thing we can actually control: ourselves!
The beautiful thing about active questions is that they measure your effort, not your results.
There’s a difference between achieving and trying; we can’t always achieve a desired result, but we can always try.
Honestly answering these questions keeps you focused on your goal of being a great musician, for example. If the question “Did I do my best to learn something new?”stayed on your list for 2 weeks and you happily gave it a “somewhat” day after day, you might realize that making progress isn’t why you play your music – you love it because it’s fun and you forget everything around you for a while.
As the environment exerts its influence throughout the day, it’s easy to forget our intentions. We get tired, run out of willpower and start making excuses. These questions not only give us more clarity on our goals, but they will also turn into “triggers” themselves – into deliberately designed environmental cues that move us in the direction of productive and beneficial change.
Give it a go!