Note: This post was originally published on my other website, Gig-Ready Jazz Bassist.
For me, musical practice is a laboratory for life-hacking, not training for a competitive sport. Since fully adopting this attitude, I’ve been a lot happier, healthier, and more productive. Here are three reasons why you should base your practice on intrinsic motivation (for more on this concept, I highly recommend Daniel Pink’s book Drive):
- It prevents comparative thinking. I read – a lot – and in a bunch of different subjects related to the human condition. One of the nearly universal ideas is that comparing yourself to others is a surefire path to unhappiness. Sure, a lot of people enjoy a certain amount of competition, but getting stuck in this mindset is pure misery.
- The achievement is the solution, not the victory. Personally, I don’t get off on defeating others. For me, the best sense of accomplishment comes from figuring out a solution to a problem – which usually involves making a process more effective, more efficient, and/or more enjoyable.
- You live a more authentic life. I wrote my dissertation on authenticity (pro tip: don’t write a dissertation on authenticity), so it’s clearly been a core value in my life. Getting in touch with my intrinsic motivation has allowed me to better understand myself – contradictions, complexities, and all. Practicing smarter allows me to cultivate other interests and having a balanced life makes me a better practitioner.
How would your practice change if you started focusing more on your intrinsic motivation – rather than extrinsic competition? What life-hacking techniques have you used (or could you use) to make your practice better?