Quit-Proof Your Goals

I had a friend in high school who was emphatic that he could not learn to play the guitar. “I tried to play. My fingers can’t handle it.” Years later I heard that he had built a home studio and was recording original music – and playing the guitar! When I asked what caused this change of heart, he replied, “I was trying to play on my dad’s old guitar. I didn’t know that it was basically unplayable. When I got a good guitar, I realized I could do it! It wasn’t my fingers after all!”

Parents often want to start their child in guitar lessons with a hand-me-down guitar to save some money, concerned that the kid won’t “stick to it.” This works great as long as the guitar works great! I’m all for being frugal (most of my favorite guitars were used), but no student should have to fight a guitar to play it. A bad guitar increases the chances that the student will not reach his/her goals… and that the parent will waste the financial investment in lessons.

A good guitar and a good instructor can virtually quit-proof music lessons.

What do you want to achieve in your life? Most of us have not been unproductive for lack of goal setting. We all do this at least once a year, right? However, we are often found fighting someone who wants to keep us from winning in the pursuit of our goals… ourselves!

Whether you’re losing weight, completing a project or learning guitar, your systems and habits will give you the life you’ve always had or the one that you want. To quit-proof your goals, you have trade those old systems for the ones that will cause you to win. It’s simple – change your systems and you will change your life.

Here are three simple things that your life systems need in order to quit-proof your goals:

1. A reason to win. Making it across the finish line requires a lot of inconvenient and uncomfortable stuff. With any goal I have achieved, I have been tempted to quit at multiple points along the way, debating whether the prize was worth the pain. This is when I needed to be very, very clear about why I was chasing this goal. If my reason was weak, quitting was easy. Start with a strong answer to “Why am I doing this?” and you are much more likely to make it to the end.

2. A personal plan. Once you’ve set your destination, you have to plan a route to get there. Make a plan and stick with it. Most importantly, make sure that the plan is YOURS. You may get inspiration or direction from an outside source, but ultimately you must own the plan in order to complete it. It needs to be customized to your goals and your life.

A warning about customizing your plan – don’t take the easy way out. Change inevitably involves discomfort. Choose to do what is hard so that you can get unusual results.

3. A teammate. John & Paul were right – everybody needs a little help from their friends, especially those who will push you when the going gets tough. Share your goals with someone and ask for encouragement and correction. It’s too easy to give up when you do it by yourself.

Beans & Strings is a place where “the diligent make amazing discoveries as they learn.” We work to provide a system for music education that increases the likelihood of success for our students.

What are other ways that you can quit-proof your goals and increase your likelihood of success?
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