Today I wanted to write about practice and the habit of practice.
Through the years I have found the best way to alter my behavior is by creating the habit.
Man is a creature of habit and I certainly know that is true with me. Just ask my wife.
Every morning through the week it’s the same routine almost to the point of obsession. I admit sometimes it’s to the point of superstition. If I don’t perform my morning tasks and functions in same way each day I fear something bad may happen that day.
I realize how irrational that is but is doesn’t affect me to where I cannot keep going if something isn’t right or out of order. It just gets me a little irritated.
Although I think a lot of that came from when my job was very stressful and I was just looking for anything to grasp onto that would help me coup with all the unpleasantness of the day. During the weekends or on holidays it all goes away.
I can be even worse with sports. Do you know how many games the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins have lost because I didn’t sit in the proper chair or in the right position?
Developing the right habits has helped me improve my life. Eating better was just a matter of dropping the habit of snacking on bad foods between meals and replacing it with other activities.
After 22 years of the smoking habit I quit cold turkey. The problem was I substituted that habit with eating and put on some weight. So I had to change that habit again by developing another habit.
When I decided to start playing drums again I knew the most important habit I had to develop was my practice habit.
I made a commitment to practice at least 5 days a week even if it was only 20 or 30 minutes. I just wanted to get the habit rolling and small steps always seems to be the best way.
I forced myself to do it each day and within a short amount of time it became a habit.
The fact that I was getting ready to play with other musicians for the first time in 25 years also gave me the additional motivation required to develop a habit. I wanted to be my best, as good as I could be after such a long layoff. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my friends and respected players.
Motivation is a key factor in developing good habits or breaking bad habits.
Earlier I mentioned I quit smoking. By the way it will be 20 years since I quit on December 30, 1995. For years people told me to quit, I half heartedly tried a couple of other times but I just wasn’t motivated. I knew the risks but in your 20’s and 30’s you still think you’re bullet proof.
In 1995 my father-in-law who was a life long smoker and had a history of heart disease passed away at the age of 67. The same year my grandmother died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 79 which was a shock to me. She was never a smoker but the reality of heart disease hit home.
It was also the first time in my life I started honestly looking at retirement funds and calculating how much savings I could have when I was 60, 70 or 80 if I started now.
I thought of my farther-in-law who had just retired a few years ago and had a nice pension and was now gone. I said to myself I want to be around to reap the rewards of all my years of work, see my children grow up and see my grandchildren. Now I was motivated. I haven’t smoked since the day I quit.
Then I put on the weight.
My diet motivation came from my family. My kids called me “Pudge” and my wife said to me “If I liked fat men I would not have married you.” Again I was motivated.
My healthy eating habits motivation came from my cardiologist. It came to me when he said to me you have 95% blockage on the left side of your heart and 75% to 80% blocked on the right side.
So motivating myself to practice drums is very important.
At my age my main motivation is to just be the best I can be. It comes from wanting to record myself, listen to the play back and honestly say I really like that. And you never know what opportunities may come along and when they do the last thing I want to be is not prepared.
It also helps that I really enjoy playing and obtain a large amount of satisfaction and relaxation from playing.
Even on the days where I have to force myself to practice once I’m started the pleasures of playing comes to me.
My habit has gone from 5 days a week, 30 minutes a session to 7 days a week and at least one hour a session. Some days its longer but most days my other responsibilities don’t allow me additional time. But I’m working towards changing that.
When I miss a day I feel guilty.
It’s definitely a habit, a good habit.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.