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The #1 Piano Practice App to Skyrocket Your Success!

The #1 Piano Practice App to Skyrocket Your Success!

Are you looking for ways to improve your piano practice sessions but aren’t sure how? Do you want to make the most of your time in front of the keyboard? Does the whole concept of practice secretly mystify you a bit, but you don’t want to admit it to anyone?

I completely understand because I’ve been there before too. Despite having studied piano since the age of 7 and obtaining a baccalaureate degree in music, practice baffled me.

And maybe it’s the analytical side of my brain trying to control the creative side. After all, I have a doctorate in nursing (emphasis on science) and a passion for playing piano and writing (focus on creativity). My life, therefore, often feels like a constant battle between the scientific and the innovative.

Still, I consistently had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t practicing the “right” way. This feeling stemmed from the fact that my performances were hit or miss. There were times when I performed brilliantly but others when I questioned whether I was sight-reading in front of an audience rather than performing a piece I had practiced a billion times before.

The seeming unpredictability of my playing inspired a deep dive into the art of practice. And although the concept of effective and intuitive piano practice is a puzzle I’m still piecing together, I’ve discovered a mind-blowing piano practice app that changed everything for me.

This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of both Amazon and Modacity, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

The #1 Piano Practice App

My desire for a better way led me on an exhaustive search for reputable resources on effective practice techniques. Eventually, I discovered podcasts. More specifically, I stumbled upon an interview with Marc Gelfo.

Although I don’t remember the specific podcast, I do remember Marc, a French horn player, discussing his passion for the art of practicing. He also talked openly about his challenges with practice. These challenges led Marc on a journey of discovery. And eventually, the development of an app to help other musicians improve their practice techniques.

The app is called ‘Modacity,’ and after hearing how it came about, I was intrigued. I was so fascinated by Modacity that I decided to try it for myself.

It’s been over two years, and I continue to use the app on an almost daily basis. And thanks to Modacity, I’ve overcome several key practice challenges which previously held me back. Such challenges include what to do when motivation fails and establishing better practice habits, active listening during practice sessions, and being more intentional when practicing.

Read on for all the juicy details and an exclusive offer from Modacity, hands down the best piano practice app out there!

Motivation

If there’s anything that being a working mom of 3 has taught me, it’s that sometimes putting the “I should” in front of “I want” is all too easy. I’m not saying this is entirely a negative quality. After all, our kids need our love, attention, and their physical needs to grow and thrive.

But there comes a point at which self-sacrifice becomes a narrative that carries you off into a sea of obligation and resentment.

And becoming a mom did not diminish my passion for the piano or the desire to improve my pianistic skills. Yet shuffling aside my desire for quiet practice time was starting to become all too routine.

Although I love practice time, my tendency to prioritize it behind other activities (including Netflix bingeing) proves passion isn’t enough. And neither is motivation because it fails to inspire regular practice sessions.

I needed something else entirely to up my practice game. Something that would help me overcome my tendency to put everything else first.

My desire to establish a more regular practice routine eventually led me to a deep dive into habits. And I ultimately discovered four essential books which answered my questions about why motivation isn’t the key to consistency. And, most importantly, how to achieve consistency in whatever it is you’re trying to do.

From Motivation to Habits

The four highly thought-provoking books that revamped my thoughts on motivation include Indistractable by Nir Eyal, Do Less by Kate Northrup, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.

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Although each author addresses habits from a slightly different angle, my main takeaway was how individualized habit formation could be. And for me, tracking is critical.

Tracking wasn’t an entirely new concept to me. An avid runner, I’ve consistently tracked both my time and distance, finding satisfaction in making comparisons between days, weeks, months, and even years.

Being able to input my time and distance to increase my overall mileage encourages me to get out of bed in the morning. It makes those early morning workouts entirely worth it!

And so, when I discovered that Modacity tracks statistics, including the number of consecutive days and hours, as well as the number of improvements made thus far, I was ecstatic! Tracking offers the perfect incentive to sit down at the keyboard even when my kitchen is a disaster or I have five baskets of laundry to fold.

The small endorphin rush I get from ticking those stats upward is enough to overcome the excuses I constantly conjure up about why I shouldn’t practice. Even if I only have 5 minutes to practice, it feels worth adding to my total practice tally.

If you also struggle with motivation, I highly recommend checking out the tracking feature on this app!

Plan Your Practice

How many times have you sat down to practice with zero plan for how you will spend your time? You then find yourself aimlessly playing repertoire you’ve already mastered or sight-reading whatever random music is near your piano.

Or maybe you don’t have the opportunity to practice until late in the day when you’ve already made 15,362 decisions, and your brain is tired of critical thinking. And by this point, you can’t bring yourself to organize a productive piano practice session thoughtfully.

Both scenarios have the potential to send you to frustration and burnout over a lack of progress. This is especially true if you are at a stage in life when you’re working without a teacher.

Although I am a strong advocate for working one-on-one with a teacher, there are simply times when it’s not feasible. Life gets busy! Between work, family life, and all the other demands of daily living, finding time to focus on improving at the keyboard is challenging.

But having a limit on your time is the exact reason that practice needs to have focus. But having a limit on your time is the exact reason that practice needs to have focus—the type of focus that guarantees improvement and piano success.

Fortunately, Modacity has a solution.

If you’re looking for a piano teacher, check out this list of teachers currently accepting students.

Organize Your Repertoire with a Piano Practice App

This piano practice app can save the titles of each piece you’re currently practicing. Each piece also has its own screen, complete with a readily accessible metronome.

I love this feature because I never have to remember the speed I practiced during my previous session.

You can also organize playlists for yourself which contain everything you need to work on at any given time. I will often set up a practice playlist for myself in the morning when my brain is fresh, and I’m at my best. Modacity also allows you to set timers on each piece within your playlist.

Setting timers is a great feature because I sometimes tend to dwell too long on one area and then run out of time for anything else. The act of setting a timer forces a limit and promotes efficiency. And as a recovering perfectionist, it also encourages me to be “good enough” rather than “perfect” before moving on.

I love organizing playlists and setting time limits on each piece before my practice session because it ensures more effective practice at the moment. It’s a feature that has helped me approach practice from a completely new and holistic perspective.

If you are struggling to make intentional progress or feel that practice is more of an afterthought right now, change it up! Try Modacity today!

Listen and Improve

This next feature may seem fairly obvious, but I was thrilled about its inclusion! As a pianist, one of your main goals is to transform black and white notes on a page into an auditory experience that is technically accurate and emotionally moving.

And as a fellow pianist, I’m confident you will agree when I say this goal is often much easier said than done!

But even as difficult as pulling off a Rachmaninoff concerto can be, a compelling performance is our goal. With that said, how often do you take the time to determine whether you’re meeting this goal?

Even if you regularly take lessons from an outstanding teacher, it’s essential to develop the ability to listen to yourself critically. After all, you are the one who listens to you the most. And wouldn’t it be incredible to provide feedback to yourself between lessons?

Looking for another unique way to up your piano game? Check out this post!

Self-Analysis Made Simple with a Piano Practice App

Luckily, Modacity tracks more than simple practice stats. This piano practice app also has a convenient recording feature that allows you to hit record at any time during your practice session.

You may be asking yourself whether the extra effort of hitting the record button and listening to the playback is worth it. Doesn’t listening while playing serve the same purpose?

The answer to that question is a resounding no.

And Gerald Klickstein, author of The Musician’s Way, has the best explanation I’ve heard yet about why simultaneous playing and self-analysis of the playing are impossible. His answer has to do with music existing in time rather than space. In other words, once you play something, it’s gone forever. After you’ve finished playing, only your memory of what you played exists.

Memory is often incredibly fickle, influenced by both emotion and the perception of your performance. Furthermore, the areas of the brain used to make and analyze music are different.

As an example, and according to the University of Central Florida, the cerebellum is the area of the brain used to coordinate movement, while Wernicke’s area assists in musical analysis. And although it’s possible to use multiple regions of your brain simultaneously, it’s challenging to focus on more than one thing at a time.

It’s almost like adding 368 and 863 in your head while spelling Claude Debussy aloud. It simply doesn’t work.

Recording: The Easiest Solution

Despite the tendency to convince ourselves otherwise, the example above proves multitasking is a myth. Therefore, the simplest way to determine whether you’re meeting your practice goals is to record yourself. And then play it back to decide whether you’re hitting the mark.

Luckily, Modacity makes recording a breeze! During every practice session, you have the ever-present option to hit “record.” After doing so, listen back and determine whether you met your mark. If so, saving the recording is as easy as hitting a button and naming the file. If the recording didn’t meet your standard, you could just as effortlessly delete and record again.

And you have the option of recording as few as one note or as many as an entire sonata. It’s entirely up to you. Whatever the length of your recording, taking the time to listen AND make improvements are both crucial elements in your development as a pianist.

Be Intentional

Although recording in and of itself is of incredible value, Modacity even takes it a step further. This piano practice app allows you to select a specific area to make improvements. And by doing so, it forces you to focus on the ONE thing you most want to improve upon at this moment.

The app first gives you the option of selecting a pre-filled area such as rhythm, tone, enjoyment, or filling one in yourself. You then have the opportunity to give it a try while recording. The app automatically plays it back and then asks whether whatever you tried worked. If the targeted practice improved your playing, you can either try it again or move on to a different area.

And if the targeted practice did not improve your playing, you can either try again or move to a different tactic.

Methodical Practice by Using a Piano Practice App

This particular feature has been one of the most valuable to me in creating more intention around practice. Before the app, I did SO MUCH mindless repetition. Deep inside, I knew that repetition does not result in improvement. But I had never found a better way. I had never forced myself to be intentional with my practice time.

My practice had always felt somewhat haphazard. As if there wasn’t enough time in the day to practice everything I wanted to practice. I also felt as if I had no idea how to make progress in my playing in the first place.

Therefore, the combination of overwhelm and uncertainty resulted in a tendency toward mindlessly repeating my pieces instead of approaching practice with a sense of mindful intention.

But Modacity taught me the importance of systematic practice. It helped me understand how focusing on ONE thing at a time creates faster progress than trying to make a bunch of changes all at once. And it gave me ideas about where to focus during practice.

Modacity has been the blueprint for the positive changes I’ve longed to build into my piano practice sessions.

It’s Your Turn

Modacity has been a staple in my practice life for over two years now, and I owe my piano progress over that time to this miraculous app.

I believe so strongly in the transformative power of Modacity that I sought out an affiliate partnership and am ecstatic to be able to offer an incredible discount to you! By clicking this link, you will have exclusive access to a lifetime Modacity license for $25 off the regular price.

If you’ve also been struggling with various aspects of piano practice, it’s time to embrace a change. It’s time to consider a piano practice app that intuitively fosters better habits. And better practice habits mean faster progress, more satisfaction from your playing, and an even deeper love for the instrument.

Don’t wait! Take advantage of this incredible offer and start transforming your piano practice today!

And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post! Make sure you drop a comment below about how this piano practice app revolutionizes your playing!

How to Get Out of a Creative Funk

How to Get Out of a Creative Funk

You love putting new and exciting things out into the world. Whether it’s writing, painting, music, or crafts, you have a spark of creativity just itching to burst itself into flames.

Except lately, something has been holding you back. That spark has dimmed into a barely perceptible flicker of light threatening to extinguish itself at any moment.

Your passion for creating is still there somewhere, but it’s buried beneath layers of perfectionism, distraction, and the emotional drain which accompanies your busy life.

Unfortunately, you have passed into the “creative funk,” a place where ideas dry up and the music stops.

First of all, it’s essential to know that EVERYONE who has even one creative bone in their body goes through a creative funk sometimes. No one can be brilliant all the time!

But even knowing that getting into a slump is common doesn’t change the fact that you can feel cranky and frustrated when it does. After all, isn’t getting into the flow of your art one of the best feelings in the world!?

Although going through a slump is disheartening, there are steps you can take to find your inspiration once again. Let’s dive right in so you can start tackling that creative funk of yours!

This post may contain affiliate links, and as a member of the Amazon Affiliates program, this means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Free Writing

Even if you’re not a writer, taking time to write down the thoughts surrounding your block can be exceedingly helpful. You don’t even need a fancy journal. All you need is paper, a pen, and a willingness to sit with your thoughts for a few minutes.

Don’t think too hard about your responses. Put pen to paper and write whatever comes to mind. Now is also a great time to bench your inner critic.

Start by asking yourself what you feel right now. Are your feelings, as a whole, positive or negative? Take some time to explore what may be contributing to your current emotional state.

Maybe you’ve been putting in too many hours at work. Or you’ve taken on too many tasks at home. Perhaps you haven’t taken the time you need to indeed rest and recharge.

Then ask yourself what you would rather be feeling. Think about how it feels when you’re at your creative best, and everything simply flows. Are there specific outside factors that help you get to that place of flow? Maybe it’s that one channel on Pandora. Or the corner table at Starbucks, iced cinnamon dolce latte in hand.

Is there a specific time of day when you feel most creative? And how can you arrange your schedule to accommodate creating at that time?

Finally, what inspires you? Is it spending time in nature? Or maybe it’s a chat with your bestie. Perhaps some of your best ideas find you during a long run.

Now it’s time to close the gap between the creative funk and your genius. Go back and read over what you wrote. Take a hard look at those hazy thoughts which once aimlessly bounced around in your head. Start making connections now that those thoughts are staring back at you in black in white on the page.

If you still feel cemented in the mundane, check out my next tip for shaking a creative funk.

Find Inspiration Wherever You Can

Although I tend to take comfort in habits and routines, sometimes they are an absolute buzzkill for your creativity!

New experiences, different ways to do the same old thing, and shaking it up are vital to keeping life fresh. And when life is fresh, creativity flows.

Maybe it’s even time to try a completely new art form. If you’re a writer, have you ever considered learning to play an instrument?

Or if music is your thing, have you ever considered taking one of those evening painting classes? Perhaps a stained glass art class is something that excites you.

Figure out what inspires you right now. Is it time to pick up that partially finished quilting project you started several years ago? Or maybe you need a trip to the craft store to spark some inspiration.

Creativity can come in so many different forms, and sometimes it takes stepping out of your monotonous routine to get those juices flowing again!

For more on getting into the flow, check out this inspiring post!

Seek out Support

If your creative funk persists, perhaps it’s time to consider help. Fortunately, support comes in a multitude of forms.

Maybe it’s time to find a teacher. There have been so many times in the past when my piano playing starts to get stale. I find myself playing the same pieces over and over. And I continue stumbling over the same techniques time after time.

But reaching out to a teacher has given me the exact inspiration I needed to master the technical aspects. And most importantly, it’s reignited my passion for playing.

Help can also come in the form of emotional support from friends. If your friends also have creative inclinations, chances are excellent that they’ve also encountered a creative funk or two. Talking about what you’re going through with someone else can be incredibly cathartic and may be precisely what you need to get your groove back.

And speaking of talking it out, never underestimate the power of therapy. Therapy can be beneficial if you find that the roots of your block run deeper than simply feeling uninspired. Fear of failure, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and other serious issues stunt your creative growth and impact diverse areas of your life. But a therapist can help you work through those issues, freeing your creativity and helping you embrace a more fearless life.

Pay Attention to Your Cycle

I’m a sucker for productivity and feel my best when maximizing my “to-do” list. On the flip side, I feel frustrated and overwhelmed on those days when my level of energy does not match the number of things I need to check off.

And deep down, I’ve always known that having fluctuations in energy is an entirely normal human experience. But it wasn’t until I discovered this book that I realized how to work with my biology.

In her book entitled Do Less, author Kate Northrup unpacks the key difference in productivity between men and women. She asserts that if women embrace the concept of life as a cycle instead of linear, they are in a better position to embrace energy fluctuations. And by embracing instead of fighting energy fluctuations, productivity improves.

Northrup presents a fresh take on productivity. It’s a take that throws guilt out the window and encourages you to reframe your thinking around productivity. She affirms that the path to happiness and peace is paved with “no’s” instead of “yes’s.”

And once you’ve ditched all those obligations, guilty thoughts, and unrealistic expectations, you’d be amazed at how much room is left over for creativity!

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Do Less, click the Amazon link below to revolutionize your life!

Change Up Your Environment

Although I’m not a student of the feng shui movement, I have become very aware that the environment plays a massive role in my creativity. If the space around me is messy and chaotic, my ability to create becomes stunted.

This post wouldn’t have been written if I hadn’t first taken the time to clear my space. Unfortunately, my “office” currently consists of a table in the living room. This table is often littered with toys, homework from the kids, and a litany of miscellaneous items without definite homes.

I attempted to write in this state of general chaos and disarray for several weeks but felt utterly unmotivated and uninspired. Until I took a few minutes to free myself from the clutter. At which time, the words once again began flowing as they do when I’m at my absolute best.

Sometimes overcoming a block means taking a hard look at your surroundings.

Do you ALWAYS work in the same spot at home? Try working on your patio instead. Or maybe, like me, you simply need to clean up your workspace.

Maybe you always sit in the same corner booth at Starbucks. Try checking out the Caribou down the street instead.

There are a million tiny ways to improve your surroundings to facilitate creativity. And if none of the above advice has reversed your creative funk, maybe it’s time to take a break!

Take a Break

Taking a break can be as simple as taking a nap or going for a walk. It could also mean getting out for a round of golf. Or maybe your inspiration will return after finishing that compelling novel you started last week.

Perhaps getting wrapped up in the newest blockbuster thriller will be enough to set you on the path to greatness again.

There are times when your brain needs to step away for a bit to process creativity subconsciously. And even if it seems as if your mind is fully absorbed in the activity, it’s still hashing out that blog post or navigating the technical challenges of the piece you’re perfecting.

The break could be 20 minutes, or maybe you even choose to step away for several days. You are not a machine and are therefore incapable of consistently churning out content without downtime. Embrace the breaks so you can more fully embrace your art!

Are you feeling emotionally drained? Check out this post for help.

Cut Yourself a Break

And speaking of breaks, don’t pressure yourself when you’re not feeling it! When your energy is lacking, cut down on your creative output instead of amping up the pressure on yourself. Try to get creative with your creativity. For example, can you re-purpose anything you’ve previously done if you simply don’t have the energy to create something new?

Or do you have a partially or almost fully completed project that you could put the finishing touches on so you can gain some momentum? Finishing a project can sometimes be enough to propel you away from that creative funk you’ve been battling.

Cutting yourself a break also means freeing yourself from your own judgment. Give yourself the freedom to create something terrible because you never know when it might turn into your greatest masterpiece. In many cases, we are the ones standing in our own way.

Waste Time

And speaking of productivity, if you’re even the tiniest bit of a perfectionist or a mom, it can be easy to get wrapped up in productivity. When your list is a mile long, it’s tempting to pack “productive” activities into every single minute.

For example, you may insist upon listening to podcasts during your commute. Or use the little spare time you have to read books about productivity, time management, and other highly “non-fun” topics.

But eliminating unfocused time from your day might be the very thing killing your creativity.

Your brain needs a lack of structure sometimes to weave together all that genius inside just waiting to be released. Consider this your invitation to waste time.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Go ahead. Watch a few episodes of your favorite telenovela. Laugh your way through the new Kevin Hart movie. Or simply enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood while listening to the playlist of your teenage years.

Just make sure to leave the guilt at home.

If you lack clarity, check out this post to find yourself again.

The 5-Minute Rule

If you’ve tried all of the above and are still hopelessly stuck, here’s the secret weapon for which you’ve been searching. This solution is guaranteed to banish the creative funk you’ve been wallowing in.

The first step is to figure out some type of reward. Maybe it’s an episode of your favorite show. Or perhaps it’s cheesecake from your favorite restaurant. Is it, perchance, a cinnamon dolce latte from Starbucks?

Whatever it is, choose something that feels celebratory to you.

The second step is to tell yourself that you will get the reward if you work for at least 5 minutes. Then set the timer.

Once 5 minutes is up, you can either continue working or move on to the reward. That’s it!

No matter how small, any progress is progress and should be celebrated as such. Reward yourself!

This technique is effective because it gets you out of your head. It forces you to put pen to paper, fingers to keys, brush to canvas, or any number of other creative endeavors. The 5-minute rule compels you to take action instead of lulling you into a false sense of action created by thinking.

And here’s a little-known secret about creativity. In most cases, work comes BEFORE inspiration. And I know we spent a ton of time talking about inspiration today. But the reality of it is that you’ll never feel inspired until you start creating.

You have to get out there, make mistakes, and create some genuinely terrible stuff before you have enough experience to be great. That’s how creativity works. No one gets to be amazing fresh out of the gate.

So don’t sweat it! Stop pressuring yourself. Have fun! Look for ways to fall in love with the journey instead of the destination. And if your interests change over the years, embrace the change. Create in whatever medium feels right to you at the moment.

The most important thing to remember is never to give up! The world needs your unique contribution.

It’s Your Turn

I hope this post inspired you to find new ways to overcome the proverbial creative funk. Take this opportunity to examine your life and figure out whether something more profound contributes to the block. Then work to resolve the issue.

And if there is nothing more profound, consider switching it up! Get out there and have some fun! Talk to new people, try a new hobby, or find a way to waste some time.

Do something that lights you up instead and feels exciting. And you never know where this one tiny step will lead.

Don’t forget to drop a comment below with your comments on this post. How do you overcome a creative funk?

How to Instantly Upgrade Your Piano Practice

How to Instantly Upgrade Your Piano Practice

“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.”

Elton John

Music is a gift, as is the ability to create music yourself. And maybe your goal is to deliver a flawless performance to a packed audience. Or perhaps you’re happiest in your living room, content to play only for yourself.

Whatever your piano goals, practice is the difference between achieving success and remaining stagnant. And unfortunately, practice tends to be one of those activities which gets a bad rap.

This is especially true for anyone who has taken piano lessons from a young age. Many parents and piano teachers mistakenly believe forcing kids to practice is the secret to musical success.

Unfortunately, forcing kids to practice often ends in fighting and resentment. Even worse, kids begin to associate the piano with negativity and eventually give it up entirely.

And even if you didn’t take lessons as a child, you may be somewhat mystified when it comes to practice. What is the best way to practice? Does it only mean countless repetitions? Are there secrets to making piano practice more effective and exciting?

These are the exact questions I found myself asking. My piano journey started at the age of 7 and led me toward a baccalaureate degree in music. To this day, I continue to be fascinated by the topic of piano practice.

And I’m constantly searching for the best piano practice techniques. If you’re also looking for ways to upgrade your piano practice, read on!

This post may contain affiliate links, and as a member of the Amazon Affiliates program, this means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Preparation

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Mindful, inspiring piano practice starts with preparation away from the piano.

Select the Ideal Time

Start by deciding when you will practice. Try to pick a time when you’re at your best, physically and emotionally. As a busy working mom, I realize this is NOT always possible. Just try your best. Then commit to this time by blocking it off in your planner.

It’s also ideal if you select a time with few distractions. Again, my experience as a mom who works full-time contradicts this ideal. My practice sessions are typically peppered with requests to fix toys, wipe tushies, and the occasional work call.

Between being forced to practice when I’m fatigued and the perpetual interruptions, tailoring my expectations has been a necessary part of the journey.

And honestly, the lack of progress due to factors outside my control is frustrating sometimes.

But I’ve learned to be reasonable and give myself grace. I’ve also started planning by taking a few minutes to clarify my practice session. Planning sessions involve setting goals for what I will accomplish today, tomorrow, and throughout the week.

Check out this post for my #1 piano practice app and an exclusive discount!

Upgrade your Piano Practice by Setting Goals

Start by listing all the different pieces you’re aspiring to learn. Then brainstorm every little thing that needs improvement in each piece. Now is the time to unleash your love for the details! Nothing is too small to write down.

Is the fingering in measure 34 awkward? Or are you having trouble nailing the trill at the end of that Chopin Nocturne? Do you forget to breathe when you play and, therefore, tense up? Maybe you’d love to work on memorization but have never taken the time before.

List each area where you are seeking improvements.

Once you have it all down on paper, it’s time to figure out a schedule. Consider your time constraints. Remember to be realistic about your time and ability to accomplish goals in a single session. Being practical is especially important if your time constraints are similar to mine! It always feels better to cross everything off a small list than to leave things unfinished on a larger one.

Although time is a crucial factor in the preparation phase, there’s another equally important factor at play; a factor that can also make or break your practice sessions’ effectiveness.

It’s All About Balance

You will find that some piano practice goals are more straightforward to accomplish than others. For example, memorization may require more brainpower than correcting the fingering in a trill.

Therefore, it’s essential to organize your goals by time and consider difficulty. How challenging is each one? And how can you arrange them to maximize your practice time?

Consider tackling one larger goal per day and throwing in one or two smaller ones to balance your session out. Or you could save the more complex tasks for days when you have fewer distractions.

To truly upgrade your piano practice, stack the more challenging task(s) at the beginning of your session, after your warm-up. Organizing your routine this way ensures you’re at your best and can effectively process the practice.

It can also be helpful to do several short practice sessions during the day instead of one long one. Personal experience has taught me that my brain grasps information better in shorter sessions than in longer marathons.

Block off time each week to prepare for the upcoming week’s practice sessions. By taking time to prepare and set goals, you will soon see your piano playing improve dramatically!

Warm-Up

Another often overlooked way to upgrade your piano practice is to warm up at your session’s start.

I know what you’re thinking. Your practice time is limited as it is. Why spend extra time on anything that isn’t a specific goal?

And the answer is that the warm-up is the ideal way to get your mind in the right space. It’s the perfect opportunity to set your intention for practicing.

Warming up also gives your muscles time to adjust to the upcoming session. Whether it’s a Chopin etude, Rachmaninoff prelude, or your favorite pop song, playing the piano requires a certain degree of physical dexterity. It’s the combination between brain and body that ultimately produces a particular sound.

Therefore both the brain and body must be prepared for the session to succeed.

And there are so many distinct ways to effectively warm-up. One of my favorites is to simultaneously play and sing whatever strikes me as fun or appealing at the time. I have found that accompanying myself kicks things off in an entertaining way and makes my entire practice session more enjoyable.

Keep It Fun!

As someone who adores classical piano, I recognize that sometimes, I take myself and my playing way too seriously. On those days when I’m either dreading practice or simply not feeling it, I like to make sure the warm-up is fun! Oddly enough, one of the ways I do this is by singing.

Although you won’t see me headlining Broadway any time soon, I dearly love a catchy show tune. And I’m a sucker for anything by Matchbox Twenty. I especially love accompanying myself because it stretches my brain and keeps practice entertaining.

It brings back the simple joy of creating music my way.

On other days, I warm up by playing scales or various exercises to work on technique. You may also consider pulling concepts out of the pieces you’re working on to use as a warm-up.

The possibilities are endless, so see where your creativity leads!

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out some of my favorites.

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Upgrade Your Piano Practice Through Memorization

Before studying piano in college, I admittedly had done very little memorization. It was somewhat of a foreign concept. And it was incredibly intimidating at first.

It wasn’t until after college that I became genuinely interested in memorization. Don’t get me wrong. I did plenty of memorizing in college but never truly embraced it.

After college, I took a job in a completely different field that I didn’t particularly care for, and playing the piano became my escape. Ironically, although I no longer had access to the college practice room grand pianos, I was more motivated to practice than I had ever been.

At that point in my life, memorization became more of a game and less of a graduation requirement. It’s interesting how much more appealing something becomes when no one is forcing you to do it.

And I suddenly realized how memorizing a piece of music could make the piece a part of you in a way that reading from a score can’t. Musical expression, phrasing, and dynamics suddenly come alive as all your focus goes toward playing instead of the sheet music.

Although memorization takes practice in and of itself, it’s absolutely worth it! And in my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to instantly upgrade your piano practice!

Memorization Tips and Tricks

Whether you aspire to perform a Rachmaninoff concerto someday or whether you want to impress your friends, memorization is a tool that can close the gap between dream and reality.

And although it may seem difficult at first, there are a few tips to make the process a bit smoother. The first is to start with songs well below your playing capability. Memorization is a tricky skill to learn when you’re also struggling with technique and artistry. And if it’s a piece you can sight-read correctly (or nearly so) at first glance, even better!

The second trick I use is to memorize one measure at a time. And there are many times when I don’t even start at the beginning of the piece. Sometimes it’s beneficial to start either at the very end of the piece itself or the beginning of a particular section of the piece.

If you always memorize only from the beginning of the piece and you have a memory lapse (which is, by the way, completely normal!), it can be difficult to start again mid-piece. But if you are constantly working to build your memory starting at various places throughout the piece, picking up anywhere will be easier.

The third tip for those new to memorizing music is to keep your memorization sessions very short. I’m talking about a maximum of 5 minutes. Learning new skills, especially memorization, requires a great deal of focus. If your sessions are too long, your brain can quickly become overwhelmed, and memory lapses can take over, stalling progress and leading to frustration.

If you would like to start incorporating memorization into your practice sessions, make sure you check out this post.

It’s Your Turn to Upgrade Your Piano Practice

Whether you’ve now resolved to prepare for practice sessions in advance or to starting memorizing your music, I genuinely hope this post has inspired you to upgrade your piano practice! As someone who has played the instrument for upwards of 20 years, I can assure you that your desire to practice will ebb and flow at times.

It’s normal to go through periods in your life when you’re so motivated to practice that it’s difficult to peel yourself away from the keyboard. And it’s just as normal to have others when you couldn’t feel less compelled to sit down at the bench.

It’s easy to show up when your motivation is high, and you feel like practicing. But continuing to show up, even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing, is the mark of a true musician.

Motivation comes and goes, but you can also instantly upgrade your piano practice by creating foolproof systems to get you closer to your goals. For more on setting goals and creating habits, check out this post dedicated to the topic. I guarantee you won’t look at either goals or habits the same way again!

Although there are seasons in life when you may learn piano independently, there are others when getting instruction from a teacher is key to continued improvement. If you’re currently searching for a teacher, make sure you visit my resource page for online teachers with current openings in their studios. This list includes a diverse range of teachers with diverse backgrounds and specialties, but all have a passion for teaching and helping students accomplish their goals.

And if you’re searching for a complimentary program for your classical piano training, don’t miss out on the ProPractice course created by Dr. Josh Wright. It’s absolutely the best and most thorough instruction on a wide variety of pieces from the classical piano repertoire. If you’ve never heard of the course, click here to read about my experience and the reasons why you’re missing out by not investing in this incredible resource.

As always, I would love to hear from you! Drop a comment below with your thoughts on this post. Where are you on your piano journey? What are the best ways you’ve found to upgrade your piano practice? And what are your struggles with learning piano, either independently or with a teacher?

Until next time, stay healthy, stay safe, and never stop learning!

7 Simple Tips for Adults Who Want to Learn Piano

7 Simple Tips for Adults Who Want to Learn Piano

Deep down, you have a secret desire to learn piano. Maybe you even took lessons as a kid but had an awful learning experience. You had one of those “old school” teachers who rapped you across the fingers with a ruler after every wrong note. Although you have always loved the instrument, a prodigy you were not, and the consistently negative feedback chipped away at your self-esteem. Perhaps your teacher even chain-smoked during your lesson.

And not only did you struggle with your teacher, but your parents were constantly harping on you to practice. Unfortunately, practicing turned into a chore instead of a delightful pastime, and eventually, you gave up the instrument entirely.

Or maybe you played saxophone in the school band, but it’s been years since you’ve picked it up. You’re now looking for an entirely new challenge and love the versatility playing piano provides.

Whatever your reasons for considering the instrument, congratulations! Learning to play the piano is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences out there.

And there are incredible benefits to learning as an adult versus a child. One of the most compelling is that you have a choice in the entire process. You get to decide the musical genre, what you do with your newfound skills, and even how you want to learn piano.

As an adult, you’re entirely in control of the entire learning process.

Whether you’re just starting or are picking the instrument back up after a hiatus, these seven tips will inspire and motivate you to chase your piano goals! Let’s get started.

This post may contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Affiliate, this means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

1. Learn Piano by Finding a Teacher

As with many life skills, learning piano requires expert guidance. Depending upon your learning style, goals, and previous experience, this guidance will likely come from a teacher.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to come from one-on-one lessons. It could come from an online program, virtual lessons, an app, or even a combination of sources. The learning possibilities are endless!

For example, you could take lessons (either in person or virtually) and sign up for either a membership site or even access specific course material depending upon your playing goals. Alternately, you could sign up for a membership and supplement your learning with an app.

There are so many great learning combinations!

And the field of piano pedagogy (the art and science of teaching piano) has changed infinitely over the years. The chain-smoking, knuckle-rapping days of demanding perfection from students are gone. In its place is a genuine desire to instill a love of music in students. If you still don’t believe me, check out this list of incredible piano teachers currently accepting new students!

And speaking of finding a piano teacher, gone are the days of limiting yourself to teachers within driving distance. Technology allows you to study with virtually anyone in the world without even leaving the comfort of your home. It’s an incredible perk that makes it easier than ever to learn piano!

2. Embrace the Beginner’s Mindset

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess there’s at least one topic in which you’re an expert. Maybe you even consider yourself an expert in multiple topic areas.

And once you’ve become an expert, starting something new can feel intimidating. Being a beginner can be especially difficult if you’re someone who is even the tiniest bit of a perfectionist. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes with being an expert. You’ve mastered a particular area and maybe even enjoy guiding others on their journey toward mastery.

But there’s also something magical that happens when you’re a beginner. As a beginner, you’re free to ask questions and make mistakes. Your mind is open to all possibilities, and you feel limitless.

It’s fascinating that you often put more limits on yourself as you become more experienced in something. Limitations that hold you back from your full potential.

Starting something new, such as learning piano, can inspire you to open your mind. And an open mind is always a beautiful quality!

3. Learn Piano by Practicing Daily

I’m sure you’ve heard that tired old saying about practice making perfect. To some extent, I do agree that it’s true. You’ll never get better at anything unless you put in the time.

I used to define practice as mindless repetition. And I used to think that if I could somehow repeat something over and over, it would magically perfect itself. I felt that if I repeated something enough times, the kinks would work themselves out. But nothing can be further from the truth.

Actual improvement at the keyboard requires your brain to engage in what you’re doing. Practice is an art form unto itself.

But it’s not something to be dreaded and despised. Practice is an opportunity to fall in love with the instrument. It’s a time to let your creativity shine! Find ways to make practice entertaining, whether by playing music you love or experimenting with something new.

I also used to think that the amount of time I spent on practice made a difference. Over time, this has again proven to be a myth. I practice less now than I did in my college days and feel like my playing has made more remarkable strides than it ever did back then.

My thoughts on practice have shifted over the years, and now I have two daily goals. The first is to play something every day. Even if I only have two minutes, I play something. The other is to relish the time I spend playing. Especially if you are a busy adult with work, kids, and a million daily obligations, make your goals simple and your practice enjoyable.

Make sure to check out this post for my secret practice weapon and an exclusive offer!

4. Listen to Great Pianists

When you learn piano, take advantage of the resources all around. YouTube, for example, has a plethora of free resources. Finding performances from all the great pianists is only a click away.

Research great performers in your chosen genre and listen to their recordings. What sets their performances apart from others? And can you identify anything specific that draws you to their performance versus other pianists? Most importantly, how can you mirror those qualities you love in your performances?

Although I love the piano in all its forms, classical is hands down my favorite genre. And over the years, I have started compiling my list of pianists I aspire to emulate.

These pianists inspire me to reach new heights in my playing and keep going, even when things get tough. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out any of the following pianists:

5. Take Advantage of Performance Opportunities

Music is all about musical expression, and learning how to convey emotions to others effectively is all part of the charm!

Whether you aspire to play on a massive stage in front of thousands of raving fans or simply want to serenade your dog on a Sunday afternoon, performance is an essential part of learning piano.

And depending upon how you decide to learn the instrument, performance opportunities are everywhere. If you are taking one-on-one lessons with a teacher, you automatically have the chance to perform regularly for your teacher. Many teachers do host regular recitals, which allow you an opportunity to perform live for an audience. Recitals are a fun opportunity to connect with other students and celebrate your learning milestones!

Many teachers also encourage students to take piano exams as it provides a guided way to learn piano. Exams typically consist of learning a piece to perform for judges and a written music theory component.

There are also supportive Facebook groups for piano enthusiasts, including Pianists and Piano Lovers, The Art of Playing the Piano, and Piano Performance Anxiety Practice Room. Each group has various opportunities for you to post piano videos to gain performance experience and obtain feedback from the group.

Churches also offer the opportunity to gain performance experience in a low-pressure setting. Whether that experience is as the keyboardist in the praise band or as the pre-service music, performance opportunities abound.

6. Join a Community

In your quest to learn piano, don’t go it alone. Pursuing a hobby is always more fun with other people! And thanks to Facebook, you can find groups for basically any imaginable hobby.

If your interest is specifically classical piano, make sure you check out the ProPractice course. The course itself was created by Dr. Josh Wright and includes video tutorials of a diverse range of the classical repertoire. From Bach to Beethoven to Chopin to Rachmaninoff, Dr. Wright covers the most popular pieces that most pianists want to learn at some point.

The ProPractice course also includes various technique videos and general tips on playing. It’s a fantastic resource for pianists of all levels and abilities! And not only does the course have resources that pair well with one-on-one lessons, but it also comes with access to an exclusive Facebook community. This community consists of pianists passionate about the piano and helping others on their piano journeys.

If classical piano is your goal, make sure you check out the ProPractice course here and take advantage of all the incredible benefits from the course. You can also read about my personal experience with the course here.

7. Learn Piano by Starting Today

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Zig Ziglar

Perhaps one of the most crucial tips for adults who want to learn piano is to start today. Life is crazy busy! But it can be all too easy to get so wrapped up in your daily to-do list that you forget to truly live.

You forget to include those small things in your life which light you up inside and inspire you to new heights. And the piano is one of the best ways to challenge yourself while finding inner peace simultaneously. It’s a fantastic way to connect with your emotions while learning a completely different skillset. And it’s a skill set applicable in various other areas of life, including at work and home.

Whether you’re brand new to the instrument or whether you did learn piano at some previous point in your life, now is the time to start. And if you’re looking for an online teacher, don’t forget to check out this list of piano teachers accepting new students.

If you’re looking for an online arsenal of classical playing resources, make sure you consider Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course. Finding similar resources from a pianist of his caliber is utterly impossible, and thanks to his course, my playing has improved significantly. Investing in the course is the next best thing to taking private lessons from Dr. Wright himself. 

It’s Your Turn

I genuinely hope this post has inspired you to learn piano! Although my piano journey has had its ups and downs, I am incredibly thankful for the knowledge I’ve gained. The piano is that one thing that gets me through the tough times and makes the good times that much sweeter.

There are so many valuable lessons to be learned from the instrument that I highly encourage everyone to give it a try. And if it’s not for you, that’s ok, but at least you gave it a try. It’s always better to have tried and figured out it’s not a fit rather than live your entire life wondering what could have been.

Leave a comment below with your thoughts after reading this post. Were you inspired to learn piano? Or are you currently learning piano and looking for a specific resource? And what are your favorite piano resources? Who are your favorite pianists?

Make sure to check out the following posts for more on playing the piano:

Until next time, stay healthy, stay safe, and keep chasing your dreams!

Become Unstoppable by Learning to Believe in Yourself

Become Unstoppable by Learning to Believe in Yourself

“You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.”

Deepak Chopra

What would you do with your life if you knew you couldn’t fail? Would you start the business of your dreams? Perhaps you would finally ask for that long-overdue raise. Maybe you would even take the first steps toward a brand new career.

Taking action on your dreams requires you to believe in yourself. But how many of us can honestly say we truly believe in ourselves? How many of us trust ourselves so profoundly that it no longer matters what anyone else thinks?

Thanks to many factors, we are in a crisis of self-doubt. And as a result, we are not living up to our full potential. We aren’t starting businesses, helping the people we could be helping, or stepping outside our comfort zones.

We’re playing small.

But by understanding where self-doubt comes from, you can start learning to believe in yourself again. You can boldly step into the life you were meant to live.

Let’s get started!

This post may contain affiliate links, and as a member of the Amazon Affiliates program, this means we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Why is learning to believe in yourself essential?

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Henry Ford

Self-doubt is a killer because it quietly lulls you into feeling inferior. Feelings of uncertainty turn up the volume on your inner critic. And distrust in yourself blocks any ability to celebrate your accomplishments.

The worst part is that you may not even recognize self-doubt for what it is. You may not recognize a failure to believe in yourself because it shows up as procrastination. It also appears as self-sabotage, imposter syndrome, or any number of other negative coping techniques.

Therefore, you may think you’re dealing with one problem, but a completely different one lurks beneath the surface.

And until you dive down to the root of the issue, absolutely nothing will change. You will continue struggling with indecision, uncertainty, and anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle fueled by forces both outside and within your control.

What is the origin of self-doubt?

Disbelief in oneself is a learned behavior. We are born with an innate sense of our value and ability to conquer challenges. But somewhere along the road of life, our self-confidence is shaken.

And one of the most obvious examples of intuitive self-confidence is learning to walk. Have you ever noticed a baby’s reaction to failure? Babies don’t know that failure is a possible outcome. They don’t make comparisons between their abilities and those of other babies.

When learning to walk, babies fail over and over and over again. And then they get back up and try again.

As babies, we believe so strongly in our capabilities that we can’t even consider alternate outcomes.

It’s only when our awareness increases that something inside shifts. Maybe it’s a limiting belief imposed on you by a parent. Or pressure from a friend to act a certain way. Perhaps you struggle with rejection from others.

Whatever it is, you stop believing in yourself.

And although doubting yourself is a devastating outcome, you already have everything you need to flip the script.

Believe in Yourself by Listening to Yourself

“Our intuition doesn’t always tell us why. Listen anyway, and you’ll find out later.”

Kate Northrup

One of the biggest reasons we stop believing in ourselves is that we stop listening. We start ignoring what our bodies are telling us and therefore lose connection to our intuition.

And in a world that values being busy, it’s all too easy to hush our quiet inner voice. In all its hustle and bustle, turning instead to the outside world’s raucous noise is straightforward and expected by society.

But blocking out all that noise is exactly what you need to believe in yourself. If you don’t start to ignore the buzzing all around, it’s impossible to hear, much less trust, yourself.

I recently read a life-changing book that tells you exactly how to welcome the quiet voice inside you. And until reading the book, I had no idea how little attention I was giving myself.

I also never realized the massive impact listening to my intuition could have on my outlook and life. It’s a truly transformative way to believe in yourself.

And if you’re looking for more tips on improving your emotional energy, make sure to check out this post.

One Day at a Time

“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.”

James Clear

A second reason we lose faith in ourselves is an accumulation of past failures. We set massive goals without any clear path toward success. Then we are bewildered by our inability to achieve the goal despite having no definite plans on how to move forward.

Not only do we fail to accomplish the goal, but we lose confidence in our ability to achieve goals in the future.

But the truth is that if you dissect your goals into tiny pieces, you are virtually guaranteed to accomplish them. This is especially true when you learn how to incorporate goals into your life seamlessly. And once you start achieving your goals, restoring trust in yourself becomes effortless.

Start small. Think about how you can be 1% better with every day that passes. And read this miraculous book on habit change.

If you’re curious to learn more about habits, check out this recent post.

Find Your Strengths

Learning to believe in yourself starts with knowing who you are and what makes you tick. Without a solid foundation of who you are, it’s difficult to find inner trust.

Discovering your strengths is one of the best ways to learn about yourself because it lays the groundwork. Seeking clarity on this one area of your life lays the foundation for every other area by giving you a place to jump off.

I have found that self-doubt pops up as I approach the unknown in my own life. It happens when I’m thinking about trying something new or expanding beyond my comfort zone.

But knowing areas where I excel gives me the confidence to embrace new opportunities. This knowledge encourages me to believe in myself even when I’m traversing the uncharted.

And if you’re looking for a way to uncover your strengths, check out this helpful guide.

Start a New Hobby

I’m a massive believer in the power of hobbies to bring joy and fulfillment into your life. Hobbies are a creative outlet and means of self-expression.

And as someone who has a wide range of interests, leisure activities provide the perfect means for exploration. However, until recently, I felt that maybe there was something wrong with me for never having discovered my “one” thing in life.

Guilt about my apparent inability to commit began clouding my life. I couldn’t understand why honing in on one thing was so difficult.

And then I discovered this mind-blowing book that transformed everything I thought I knew. It confirmed the value inherent to leisure activities, and suddenly, the cloud of self-doubt lifted.

Exploring your interests allows you to listen to your intuition and play to your strengths. Hobbies also provide an avenue to expand your social circle.

These are all powerful strategies to begin learning to believe in yourself.

Check out this post for more compelling reasons you should start a new hobby today!

Believe in Yourself Through Positive Self-Talk

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

Louise Hay

The way we talk to ourselves matters. Everyone has a running commentary in their head, comprised of conscious and unconscious thoughts. Unfortunately, we become so used to hearing that voice that sometimes we forget to make necessary adjustments for our good.

And before you know it, your harsh inner critic is dictating your entire internal dialogue. It’s no wonder why you lose faith in yourself when that happens.

Negative self-talk only fosters feelings of being inferior and a failure. This type of commentary brings you down emotionally and convinces you that you’re not worthy of trust.

But you are the creator of your thoughts and have the power to make positive change.

Learning to shift the conversation takes practice. It’s a daily awareness of your emotional state and the employment of specific tactics to switch it around.

Certain practices such as journaling, visualization, and surrounding yourself with positivity are potent steps toward a more positive thought life. Start prioritizing these types of self-care activities in the way you already prioritize physical care. I guarantee that you’ll be amazed at how much easier it becomes to believe in yourself!

And if you’re looking for another resource in positive thinking, check out this recent post.

The Importance of Self-Love

Love and trust go hand-in-hand. This is true of marriage and in life. If you don’t show yourself the same love and compassion that you show others, trusting yourself becomes a challenge.

Loving yourself means forgiveness when things go wrong. It means asking for help. And it means living according to your core values.

Struggling with self-belief sometimes means you’re not living up to your guiding principles. But by taking the time to uncover what matters most, you send a message to yourself that you matter!

And when you sincerely believe that you matter, trust soon follows.

If you’ve never done it before, I highly encourage you to think about which values matter most to you. And if you’re not sure where to start, check out this list of common core values.

Find Inspiration

There’s nothing like a little inspiration to restore trust and faith in yourself. Sometimes we are led to believe that we can permanently fix whatever is going on mentally by reading ONE book or listening to ONE podcast.

But mental fitness is similar to physical fitness in that it takes repetition to make lasting change. You must commit to a better thought life by daily practices such as meditation and journaling.

Tiny practices completed daily result in massive change, so don’t give up! The more you work to improve your inner life, the more you will begin to believe in yourself.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, make sure to check out one of these posts:

Or one of these phenomenal reads:

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It’s Your Turn

Learning to believe in yourself is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight or even in a week, a month, or a year. It’s a habit that takes time.

It takes time because listening to that still, small voice inside feels incredibly counterintuitive. In this noisy, tumultuous world we live in, we are so used to hearing only the loudest voices. It takes practice to listen for the silence.

But it’s in the silence that you will find yourself. The slight twinge of inner tightening you sense when something doesn’t feel right. Or the massive lightness inside when you know you’re on the right path. Your path.

Even when the world screams rejection, it’s your inner knowing that pushes you through to greatness. It’s the belief in yourself that propels you to new heights.

I asked this question at the beginning but will ask it again. What would you do with your life if you knew you couldn’t fail?

I’m hopeful that this post inspired you to go after whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. The world needs your unique contributions, so go out there and leave your mark!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments below. Is there anything you’ve done to foster trust in yourself? And what have you been inspired to accomplish?

What to Do When Your Emotional Energy is Drained

What to Do When Your Emotional Energy is Drained

Do you ever have those times in your life when you feel overwhelmingly tired? When EVERYTHING feels impossibly tricky, and you have zero energy. Even getting through the day feels like a marathon of marathons.

Maybe you’ve even lost interest in doing things that once brought you great pleasure. Or you feel as if your work and home lives are crushing you beneath a gigantic mountain of obligation.

There are countless reasons you may be feeling fatigued. Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep at night. Your diet is a bit off-kilter. Or perhaps you are even having issues with your thyroid.

But what happens when you’ve ruled out all possible physical causes for feeling fatigued? What then?

I’ve been there before. I struggled to find answers about why I feel caught in a dense fog of weariness. And the search for answers led me on a journey of self-discovery toward a transformation in both mindset and energy.

This journey led me on a path toward doing less, being more present, and, most importantly, tapping into the power of emotional energy.

This post may contain affiliate links and as a member of the Amazon Affiliates program, this means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

What is emotional energy?

To understand emotional energy, we must first acknowledge our bodies as being comprised of equal parts, physical and psychological. Each impacts the other and therefore contributes different types of energy.

In the most basic sense of the term, emotional energy is the energy we obtain from our emotions. And there are experts, including author and psychotherapist Mira Kirshenbaum, who believe the emotional contribution is even larger than the physical one.

I think everyone has their concept of emotional energy, and we are conditioned to believe that we are at the mercy of our emotions. There’s also a belief that the experience of having feelings is deeply embedded in our brains at birth. And if this were true, it would mean that we have very little control over our emotions.

Believe me when I say that I was as shocked as anyone when I recently listened to a TED talk by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett that challenged everything I thought I knew.

And what I learned is that your brain is constantly making predictions in an attempt to create meaning. Emotions are, in fact, neutral until you assign significance to them. And that significance comes from your brain’s ability to make predictions based upon past experiences.

In other words, your emotions are created entirely by you. And as such, you have far more control over your emotions than you thought.

Why is emotional energy significant?

Not only are our brains in charge of assigning meaning to emotions, but biologically speaking, our brains are designed to look for danger. A primary function of the brain is keeping the body safe and it accomplishes this by constantly searching for potential threats.

Left unchecked, our natural tendency to focus on the negative and construct worst-case scenarios can deplete emotional energy and leave us feeling completely and utterly drained.

I have to confess that I’ve spent much of my life avoiding strong and predominantly negative emotions. It’s almost as if I thought I could deny their entire existence and never have to face feelings such as embarrassment, shame, or sadness.

Unfortunately, this practice of ignoring a specific set of emotions led to an overall decreased awareness of all emotions. And in fact, failing to recognize the impact of emotional energy in my life is just as harmful as not treating high blood pressure or diabetes.

Our mental and emotional well-being is just as essential to our overall sense of wellness as our physical state. Unfortunately, there is a shocking lack of credible information out there about how to care for our emotional well-being.

It wasn’t until I stumbled across an incredibly thought-provoking TED talk by Dr. Guy Winch that I suddenly realized how little I knew about emotional energy and its impact on how one feels physically.

Armed with this new knowledge, I began piecing together a completely new outlook on emotional energy. And the new outlook is based upon the knowledge that what you think about is what you get.

The Mind-Body Connection

Remember all that stuff about physical and emotional components? As it turns out, emotions can trigger a physical response in the body.

Think back to a time when you were extremely nervous about something. It could be a test, a performance, or even a difficult conversation. How were you feeling physically?

In my experience, being nervous means my heart races, my palms get sweaty, and my hands shake. Maybe you have similar physical sensations when nerves start to rise.

Regardless of your exact sensations, apprehension is the easiest to begin connecting emotional energy to physical awareness. And once you make this connection, it becomes easier to tap into the more subtle emotions.

As a general rule, negative emotions typically result in physical sensations of contraction within the body. The sensation is very similar to the rock, which suddenly appears in the pit of your stomach with bad or unexpected news.

On the other hand, positive emotions often present as the sensation of expansion. Think about the light, airy feeling you get after completing a complex task you have been dreading for weeks.

Understanding how to interpret your emotions is crucial to conserving and enhancing your emotional energy because it’s tough to change something about which you’re clueless!

It also gives you the ability to manage emotion on a deeper level because we often feel emotions physically before our “thinking brain” has even had a chance to process the event. And the better we are at identifying emotions, the easier it becomes to manipulate our emotional energy.

How does your emotional energy get depleted?

Although the ultimate goal is to improve your emotional energy, it’s vital to first understand how it gets drained in the first place. One of the biggest culprits is chronic stress.

Chronic Stress

Life is stressful. But nothing drains your emotional energy faster than prolonged and unrelieved stress. The type of stress that comes from high-pressure jobs, intense schooling, or even the decision to have kids.

All three are scenarios where you often feel as if you have no control over your life. And without positive coping strategies, you may begin suppressing your emotions to get through the day without a breakdown.

Suppressing your emotions may be effective in the short-term, but it leads to emotional numbing and even depression over time. And it takes you further and further away from happiness and an overall sense of well-being.

Being Indecisive

Another huge drain on emotional energy is being indecisive. Indecisiveness zaps all your energy by causing you to continually go back and forth, mentally weighing out the pros and cons of a particular situation.

The pitfalls of indecisiveness are especially evident with big life decisions, but it can also happen with too many small, daily choices. It’s almost as if you have a set amount of emotional energy and instead of focusing it all in one area, you spend a little bit everywhere without anything to show for it at the end of the day.

No Boundaries

A lack of personal boundaries is a classic source of drained emotional energy. It’s similar to being indecisive in that your emotional energy gets spread too thin.

Even worse is the fact that you’re probably spending your energy in places that aren’t even that important to you. Energy is, unfortunately, a finite resource and requires careful consideration before spending it. And when you have no boundaries, your energy gets scattered here, there, and everywhere.

Perfectionism

Yet another source of drained emotional energy is perfectionism. Contrary to popular belief, perfectionism is more than high standards. Perfectionism is the belief that one can attain completely unattainable levels.

And what’s worse is the fact that more often than not, we often impose perfectionism upon ourselves. It’s an internal form of aggression that is particularly destructive because you can’t escape yourself. Nor can you ever feel satisfaction at a job well done because you’ll never reach the standards you set for yourself.

How Can You Improve Your Emotional Energy?

Now that you understand the significant contributors to a drain in your emotional energy, it’s time to move on to how you can plug those drains!

Identify the Source

One of the first things you can do to improve your emotional energy is to pay attention to your emotions. There can be many contributors to feeling down, but until you correctly identify the one(s) explicitly impacting you, it will be challenging to make positive changes.

I recently read this transformative book called Do Less by Kate Northrup that suggests you start listening to yourself. Pay attention to your body and how specific thoughts make you feel on a physical level.

We often spend so much time ignoring our emotions and physical sensations in the name of productivity that we lose that valuable connection. But if you start small such as with decisions about what to have for breakfast or how you should spend a couple of free hours this weekend, you’ll soon see huge returns on your overall well-being.

Reverse Chronic Stress

Once you incorporate listening to yourself again, you may realize that chronic stress is at the root of your emotional energy crisis. Although solving this type of issue can be a bit trickier, there are small steps you can take to start feeling more revived.

If the energy drain is your career, try to identify the specific situations causing distress. Spend some time digging into both the situation and your response to see whether it’s possible to transform your mindset and approach it from a more positive angle.

As a nurse practitioner who strictly sees patients in the nursing home setting, this past year has been incredibly stressful for me. After reflecting on my low energy state, I was finally able to recognize the full impact my career has had.

Switching careers isn’t exactly an option at this point, so I began searching for other answers. My search led me to a book called The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer.

This book taught me how to let go of situations where I had no control and be present. These are both essential tools to begin dealing with significant stressors you may not necessarily have complete control over. I learned that sometimes acceptance is the best way to start feeling better.

And although acceptance is one option, choosing to leave a situation you can’t overcome is undoubtedly another valid one. Whether it’s a toxic work environment, a career you chose to appease someone else, or a relationship that simply isn’t working, walking away is sometimes the best option.

Find Your Tribe

Have you ever noticed that certain people energize you and others who completely drain you? It’s fascinating to think that, unlike physical energy, we can get emotional energy from the people around us.

And I’m sure you’ve heard that famous saying about how we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. It’s so true and points to the importance of surrounding yourself with people who fill your cup rather than dump it.

Start paying attention to who you spend your time with and if they change your vibe for the negative, consider searching for a new tribe.

Resolve the Unresolved

Whether it’s perfectionism, indecision, or a lack of boundaries, start taking steps to resolve whatever is draining your emotional energy. Start taking measures to not only recognize what’s holding you back but to take action toward solving it.

In my own life, meditation and journaling have been incredibly beneficial in helping me step towards higher emotional energy states. Meditation teaches you how to stay present, especially if you tend to gravitate toward the past or the future.

Journaling helps bring up thoughts and feelings hiding deep inside but are draining your emotional energy. There’s something about putting pen to paper that releases negativity and truly enables you to resolve whatever is holding you back.

It also highlights the fact that we can’t out-think our brains. In other words, simply telling your mind to stop with the negativity and hamster wheel of worst-case scenarios is entirely ineffective. But learning how to connect the physical with the psychological is influential and critical to truly transforming your life and improving your emotional energy.

Other Resources to Improve Your Emotional Energy

Whether it’s a lack of energy or juggling too many projects at once, my passion is helping women overcome whatever is holding them back. I’ve encountered barriers in my own life but have also experienced the triumph of overcoming them and want to help others do the same.

Check out these posts for more motivation and inspiration to overcome that one thing threatening to hold you back!

And if you’re looking for even more tips to improve your emotional energy, here are a few of my favorites!

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I sincerely hope this post has inspired you to examine your life and work towards a higher emotional energy state by addressing the negative and channeling the positive. Remember that you are amazing and have a unique contribution to make in the world. But you need positive energy to make your impact!

Leave a comment below with your thoughts on emotional energy and what you think may be holding you back from a higher energy state.

How to Change Your Habits and Transform Your Life

How to Change Your Habits and Transform Your Life

We are only a month or so into 2021, so I have two questions for you. First of all, did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? And secondly, are you still sticking with it?

If so, I’m sending you a virtual high five! And if not, I’ll still send you a shout-out because resolutions are hard!

In thinking back over the last several years, I’m not sure whether I’ve been able to stick with even one resolution past January 10th. And if you’re anything like me, abandoning a resolution has nothing to do with motivation.

It also has nothing to do with the inability to recognize the need for change.

We all have things in our lives that we know we need to change. Whether it’s exercising regularly, eating healthier, or changing our mindset, opportunities to live a better life abound.

And the start of a new year offers a compelling beginning to what we hope will ultimately be that better life.

Except it never entirely turns out that way. Let me tell you why.

This post may contain affiliate links and as a member of the Amazon Affiliates program, this means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

The Myth of the Resolution

While driving around one day, I noticed a somewhat cryptic sign which read, “resolutions are for quitters.” It happened to be shortly after the New Year, and the sign was advertising a burger place.

For whatever reason, this phrase stuck with me. And I can’t say whether the marketing ploy motivated anyone to suddenly abandon their resolutions and pull over for a delicious burger with a side of fries chased down by a frosty cold one.

But in its own strange and slightly mysterious way, the sign spoke truth to me. Because resolutions really are for quitters.

Resolutions are all but guaranteed to fail. The whole concept of suddenly starting or stopping some profoundly ingrained habit is a bit ridiculous just because the calendar flips over.

As if anyone could suddenly change themselves simply through grit and sheer willpower.

Despite my skepticism around resolutions themselves, I truly believe in the transformative power of change. But this sign had me thinking that maybe resolutions get a bad rap. That perhaps the difficulty isn’t in the concept of the resolution itself but instead in its execution.

Resolutions, Habits, or Both?

I know I started by talking about resolutions. But resolutions are only one small piece of the equation.

Whether it involves getting into shape, writing a novel, or becoming a better pianist, you’re going to need more than the simple desire for change to achieve the desired outcome.

You could consider resolutions as the goal itself, while habits are the small, daily steps you take to achieve that goal. And the outcome depends upon your habits.

Let’s think about the following (highly unscientific) equation:

Resolution + Habits = Success

Unfortunately, the following equation is equally valid:

Resolution + Habits = Failure

As you can see from both equations, you can start with the same resolution but, depending upon the habits, end up with entirely different outcomes.

Habits either bring us closer to the life we want, or they push us further away from it.

And these small actions repeated over time add up to massive change.

If you think about it, making a resolution is the easy part. The piece most people miss (myself included) is the habit.

So how do you effectively change your habits to transform your life?

Unfortunately, what you think you know about habits just might be leading you astray.

The Myth of the Habit

How many times have you heard that all it takes to form a habit is repetition?

That if you repeat some action x number of times, it will suddenly stick. And boom! Instant transformation.

I’ll admit that it’s a great concept. Repeat and be transformed.

Except how many times do you need to repeat something for it finally to stick? Thirty? Sixty? 302?

Despite thorough searching, I’ve never uncovered the exact answer to that question.

It also doesn’t address what to do if you break your streak. Do you have to start all over from the very beginning if you miss a day?

If so, that sounds more than a little depressing.

There’s also very little advice out there for the logistics of fitting this new habit into your life.

Like, should you just haphazardly shove it into your lunch hour? Right away in the morning? Or maybe before bed?

Most of the information out there is broad, generic, and implies that changing your habits is insanely hard. Period. End of sentence. Good luck and best wishes!

It’s no wonder there’s such a negative stigma around resolutions and habits!

Fortunately, I recently read a book that changes everything I thought I knew about habits. It sheds light on why habits typically fail, and it provides a clear road map for positive change.

The book is called Atomic Habits, written by James Clear, and if this is the first time you have heard about it, now is the time to take a closer look!

Change Your Habits Intuitively

Before discovering this book, I felt overwhelmed by the entire concept of habits. It was almost as if the accumulation of failed past attempts to change my habits made me think that future change was therefore improbable.

Despite these feelings, a small piece of me knew the untapped potential inside if I could unravel the habit puzzle.

And so, I picked up Atomic Habits, which changed everything I thought I knew about habits.

It completely dispels the myth that change has to be complicated. Instead, the book suggests that you can achieve actual long-term change if you start small and work with rather than against your current habits.

Throughout the book, Clear shares dramatic stories of how tiny changes transform lives. One pound lost leads to two, and eventually, over one hundred pounds are gone. Sports teams so terrible they have no chance of winning a game, much less a championship become the best in the league. Clear even writes about his recovery from a horrific accident and how his path to discovering better habits eventually led to a bestselling book.

These stories quickly establish Clear as an expert in the field. But it is his straightforward approach to the somewhat complex subject area that gives you hope that you (yes, you!) can make positive changes in your own life.

In short, Clear breaks the concept of habits down into such minuscule pieces that making considerable changes to your life is significantly less intimidating. He teaches you how to incorporate habits seamlessly into your life instead of haphazardly shoving them in wherever they happen to fit.

And that is honestly worth its weight in gold.

Better, Little by Little

I’m not sure about you, but I tend to get overwhelmed by the mere thought of change. I have perfectionist tendencies which often result in completely unrealistic expectations about my performance. My mind goes into overdrive and happily spins off into unimaginable tangents about why change will fail. Or it will conjure up images of the enormous sacrifice required for even the slightest habit change.

These tendencies mean that I don’t always move forward as quickly as I would like to habit change.

But Clear introduces a straightforward concept. It’s a concept that quickly dispels any attempts by my ever-helpful brain to complicate.

This concept is becoming 1% better every day. The theory behind it is that you don’t have to make colossal changes in a short amount of time. All you need is to be 1% better than you were yesterday. Eventually, those small gains add up, and after a while, you’re significantly better at whatever it is you’re trying to do.

Clear’s is perhaps the least intimidating approach to habit change I’ve ever come across. It’s also an ideal response to my perfectionist tendencies, leading me down the path of negativity and eventual failure when left unchecked.

It’s oddly comforting to think that massive change only requires improving by 1% every day. Not 50%. Or even 25%. But simply 1%. This concept makes transformation attainable and realistic.

You may also enjoy reading this post about perfectionism.

Consider Your Identity

Another concept I found extremely valuable in the book is the relationship between habits and identity. Your daily actions (your habits) work to either prove or disprove your identity.

And the way you think of yourself determines your habits to some extent. Habits and identity weave closely together.

This is a powerful concept that takes habit change from something you haphazardly force into your life at the start of a new year to simply who you are as a person.

Let me walk you through an example from my own life.

Piano Player vs. Pianist

I’ve played piano since the age of 7 and even went on to study music in college. Ultimately, my career took me down a completely different path, but my love for music remains.

A few years ago, I decided to improve my piano technique and repertoire, even if it wasn’t my career. I resolved to play more advanced piano repertoire. And the habit that would get me there? Effective daily piano practice.

And so, I tried to incorporate practice into my life daily. But I hit multiple roadblocks. Work. School. Sick kids. I would go months without even touching the instrument.

As time went on, I drifted further and further from my goals.

After months of frustration about my lack of progress, a question suddenly popped into my head straight out of nowhere. What are some easy ways I can incorporate this goal into my life?

I began looking for ways to do just that by listening to podcasts and reading blog posts. And I lowered my practice standards from 30 minutes daily to whatever amount of time I had.

Not only did I relax my standards to reach my goal more quickly, but I changed my entire identity.

I essentially began thinking of myself as a pianist instead of someone who just plays piano on the side.

And although I subconsciously reached this conclusion before Atomic Habits even came out, while reading the book, I immediately recognized the concept as one which has already yielded massive success in my own life.

The book gave language to a technique I had somehow stumbled upon in everyday life.

Powerful, isn’t it?

You may also enjoy reading this post about how to improve your piano practice.

Change Your Habits by Considering Your Identity

The primary reason why considering myself a pianist rather than someone who happens to play an instrument is so powerful is that it shifts the focus. Instead of focusing so much on making sure I hit my daily habit of practicing, I see myself as someone who enjoys piano practice.

The constant frustration of not meeting practice requirements is gone because I can’t wait to sit down and play daily. Piano practice is my creative outlet and satisfies my desire to think deeply while putting the day’s stress behind me.

The daily practice supports my identity as a pianist, reinforcing my desire to practice. Defining my identity gives me a frame of reference from which I can decide my habits that further support or oppose this identity.

The concept of redefining your identity is the type of stuff missing from other advice out there about changing your habits. And this is the powerful stuff that transforms your life!

It’s Your Turn

Until stumbling across this book, I truly felt that existing information on how to change your habits was vague, disheartening, and impossibly difficult to incorporate. Atomic Habits covers information that had previously been missing in my life, and I can guarantee you will also find value in the book!

It’s a step-by-step guide to re-imagining your identity and then living up to that identity. But not in an overwhelming way which makes you question whether the change is worth the effort.

Instead, the book gently guides you through small and straightforward transformations that support your own identity. It reinforces what you always knew deep down about habits but somehow never could bring forth.

And it’s the missing key to transforming your life.

I genuinely hope this post has inspired you to get out there and change your habits for the better! Make sure to grab your copy of the book here:

Don’t forget to comment below about habits and how you are incorporating this into your own life!

How to Achieve Flow State and Live a Happier Life

How to Achieve Flow State and Live a Happier Life

“Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

When was the last time you completely lost yourself in a project? I’m not talking about the stressful loss of self which happens when you’re up against an impossible deadline. (College flashbacks, anyone???)

I’m talking about losing yourself while doing something for the sake of the activity itself. Something that you enjoy doing so much that you completely lose track of time.

It’s almost as if you get sucked into an alternate world where all your stress and anxiety is suddenly swept away. And regardless of the activity, you quickly find that not only are your skills challenged to their utmost but that you actually enjoy the challenge because it’s so deeply meaningful to you.

Although there are several names for it such as being “in the zone,” what I’m describing is called “flow state” and the term itself was coined by Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

And Csikszentmihalyi first became intrigued with the concept after noticing how deeply absorbed artists became in their work. Decades later, the benefits of achieving a flow state are still at the forefront of positive psychology. The concepts central to flow are also key to a diverse range of fields.

Curious to learn more? Let’s dive into exactly what flow state is!

This post may contain affiliate links and as a member of the Amazon Affiliate program, this means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

What does being in flow state feel like?

In most cases, flow state occurs with some type of creative endeavor. It could be writing, painting, music, or even sports. Anything which completely absorbs your focus and challenges your abilities can trigger flow state.

I have personally been in a flow state while doing a number of different activities including piano practice, dressage, and writing. Proof that flow state truly can occur during a WIDE range of activities!

If you can relate to being multi-passionate, make sure you check out Why Having Multiple Interests is Your Greatest Strength.

In his TED talk (which you absolutely need to check out!), Csikszentmihalyi lists 7 different elements which describe how it feels to be in flow state.

  1. You become completely focused on the activity.
  2. A sense of ecstasy takes over and the reality of everyday life fades away.
  3. Inner clarity presents itself and you know exactly what needs to be done, when, and in what order.
  4. Your self-confidence dramatically increases because you know your skills are up to the task.
  5. Inner serenity replaces worry as your ego becomes less and less important.
  6. Time flies as flow state takes over.
  7. Pursuing the activity becomes the reward and you require no external motivation.

I don’t know about you but inner clarity, serenity, and self-confidence are all areas I’m constantly working to foster. And combining those areas with something I’m already passionate about?

What could possibly be better???

4 Stages of Flow

Although Csikszentmihalyi is considered the pioneer of flow state research, there have been others who have advanced his work. One such researcher is Steven Kotler, a journalist, author, and executive director of an entire research initiative dedicated to the topic.

Kotler is credited with coming up with the 4 stages of flow.

  1. The struggle phase involves overloading your brain with research, new skills, and any information related to whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. Hint: this phase often feels like the exact opposite of flow state.
  2. The relaxation phase is an incredibly important one in which the subconscious takes over problem solving. Doing something physical such as taking a walk is most effective way to shift from conscious to subconscious thinking. Skipping this step can result in burnout.
  3. Flow state and inspiration finally take over and you experience the 7 elements listed above.
  4. The final stage is consolidation and it involves transforming the experience to your subconscious. This stage, however, comes with a downside. Remember those feel good neurochemicals released during flow? During this stage, they leave. In an attempt to regain the flow state, a tendency for self-sabotage can often result.

A solid understanding of the 4 stages can not only help you understand flow state on a deeper level but also guide your experience by allowing you to gauge where you are at any given time.

It’s also crucial to remember how important relaxation is to achieving flow state. As is the reality that it does have to end at some point. Constantly pushing yourself to achieve flow can have a dark side and will lead to eventual burnout (or worse). But if you have a solid understanding of the process, you can take faith in knowing that all 4 stages are important to the overall experience and its benefits.

The Benefits of Flow State

“Contrary to what we usually believe … the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can also be enjoyable. If we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

There are simply so many incredible benefits to incorporating flow state into your life. Your self-confidence climbs to new heights and your ability to enjoy your life on a much deeper level increases by incorporating activities which spark your passion.

Tapping into flow also improves your concentration and not only makes you more efficient but ultimately allows you to produce at a higher level than you would otherwise.

I personally LOVE activities which require all my brain power because it leaves me feeling as if I have reached my fullest potential. I’ve also found that my sleep quality improves dramatically because of the energy it took to attain flow and the peace it brings.

You may also find that your inner critic suddenly disappears because you focus so deeply on the activity that you have no brain power left for criticism. Instead of criticizing, you’re caught up in the moment of whatever it is you’re doing.

And ultimately, your happiness improves because of all the positive energy in your life.

Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

How do I achieve flow state?

Whether you already have familiarity with exactly what being in flow state feels like or have only just been introduced to the concept, let’s move on to the big question you’re probably asking yourself. “How do I put myself into this state so I can not only improve my productivity but also my overall happiness?”

Although there are several different ways to promote flow state, it requires a foundation of 3 elements. It’s also important to keep in mind that there are a huge range of activities which can inspire flow state. But not every activity lends itself well to those 3 elements.

The following 3 questions address each of the required elements. If the answer is “yes” to all of the below, you can move forward with confidence that the activity will indeed inspire flow!

  1. Does the activity have clear goals and a definitive way to gauge progress?
  2. Am I able to get some type of clear and immediate feedback about my performance?
  3. Is there a balance between my perception of how challenging this activity is and my perception of my own skills?

How do I know whether an activity is capable of triggering flow state?

As an example for how to evaluate an activity, let’s consider piano practice.

Piano practice checks the box for #1 above because there are so many different ways to gauge progress. Whether it’s learning the first few measures of a piece or finally memorizing an entire Beethoven sonata, clear and concrete goals are everywhere.

You can also check off #2 because there are several different ways to get immediate feedback on your performance. The first, and most accurate, is to record your practice session. This method allows you to completely focus on your practice in the moment and reserves critique for afterwards.

Pssst! Check out my recommendation for the easiest to use and hands-down best microphone out there!

The second method to get feedback is by taking lessons from someone. This is an incredibly valuable form of feedback because it’s objective and critiquing yourself will always have a bit of the subjective to it.

Looking for a piano teacher? Check out this post for How to Find the Right Piano Teacher for You. And if you’re ready to jump in, find a list of online piano teacher accepting new students here.

The third is by listening to your playing in the moment. This method is somewhat more difficult because multitasking on playing and critiquing makes both slightly less effective. But it is, nonetheless, a way to receive immediate feedback.

Box #3 is also easily checked off because there is an incredibly diverse range of repertoire out there. Whether you are just beginning to play or have played for years, you can find something right at your level. And you can also continually challenge yourself by choosing tougher and tougher repertoire.

Now that you have a solid understanding of the benefits, stages, and the basics on achieving the flow state, let’s move on to how you can better incorporate it into your life!

Find the Balance

In his TED talk, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is very clear about the balance between challenge and skill level. To achieve flow state, challenge and skill levels must be high.

In other words, if there is a mismatch between challenge and skill, flow state is unattainable.

As an example, when a task is highly challenging and your skill level is low, you will feel anxious and worried. But when the challenge and your skill level are both low, you are likely to feel apathetic.

Neither are particularly desirable states.

You therefore must focus on finding the balance between challenge and your individual skill level.

Pay Attention to Your Internal Clock

The reality is that we all have times of the day when we are at our creative best. Everyone has a slightly different clock but typically, everyone functions better when all physical needs have been met. This means adequate sleep, hydration, and regular exercise.

Taking care of your physical needs translates into more favorable mental and emotional states. Pay attention to when you feel most positive and are able to focus on a deeper level.

You probably don’t have to think too hard to figure out what this time of day is for you. For me personally, my most productive time is always in the morning. I have found that as the day drags on, my creative and emotional energy drains essentially to zero by evening.

Achieving flow state when your energy is drained is significantly more difficult than when you are in the zone. It’s usually much easier to give in to distraction and your brain has a more difficult time thinking creatively.

Eliminate Distractions

It is ironic that I write this post amidst my 3 kids and husband, all vying for my attention. This is not particularly conducive to achieving flow due to the continual interruptions. Although I can’t always change the situation, I have learned to adapt.

I do this by listening to the same Pandora channel every time I sit down to write. Doing this signals my brain that it’s time to focus on the task at hand.

I have also found that in order to achieve flow state, it’s essential that the music is strictly instrumental rather than anything with sung lyrics. And as I am a classical pianist, the music has to be orchestral and no solo piano otherwise my mind wanders to analysis of the piece and pianist performance.

The music must set the stage for creativity rather than become the star performer of the play. You may find that listening to solo piano is right up your alley. Or maybe pop gets you into flow state more easily than any other genre.

Find what works best for you and do you!

Set a Goal

Ideally this should be a small and very actionable goal. When you sit down to work, it should be something that you’re very clear on. Such a goal might be something like “write the introduction of my blog post” instead of “work on content.”

Setting a small, clear goal enables you to focus on the task at hand instead of peripheral tasks which may focus your attention elsewhere.

Look for the goals which truly move the needle forward in whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

And remember that focusing on the journey itself rather than the destination is always key to establishing the type of habits which result in huge breakthroughs and ultimately, goal attainment.

Final Thoughts

Whatever it is that lights you up inside, I truly hope you have found insight to not only take it to the next level but to improve your overall happiness.

If the concept of flow is intriguing, make sure you check out Csikszentmihalyi’s book.

Or the writings of Steven Kotler.

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And if you’re interested in a musician’s perspective, don’t miss out on this one.

Until next time, I hope you pursue your passions and truly live a life you love!

Top Piano Practice Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Top Piano Practice Myths You Need to Stop Believing

You’ve thought about learning to play the piano but something is stopping you. Maybe it’s time. Or your age. Maybe you don’t feel “musically talented.”

Or maybe you would love to learn piano but have no idea where to even start.

Perhaps you have enrolled your child in lessons only to discover the challenges inherent to maintaining a practice regimen. And you’re now questioning whether their lack of practice makes lessons even worth it at this point.

I get it.

As someone who has played piano for as long as I can remember, I’ve also heard my fair share of myths surrounding the instrument. And there are a shocking number of piano practice myths out there!

Rest assured that at least part of what may be holding you (or your child) back from learning the instrument is likely a myth.

But you don’t have to let a series of lies hold you back from the joy of playing any longer. Let’s dive deeper into the top piano practice myths you need to stop believing!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Kids and Piano Practice

Parents … this one’s for you! How many times have you signed your kid up for an activity only to be dismayed by the amount of fighting created by said activity?

Maybe it’s having to attend soccer practice instead of a friend’s birthday party. Or maybe your daughter would rather watch “The Babysitter’s Club” than go to her Girl Scouts meeting.

Signing your kids up for activities is all fun and games until the accountability hits. Believe me … with 3 kids, I’ve been there a time or two!

The Downside of Piano Lessons

And signing them up for piano lessons is no different. Many piano teachers out there have strict policies regarding weekly practice. I’ve even heard of teachers kicking students out for not practicing.

Or parents simply removing their kids from lessons over the guilt of not maintaining a practice schedule.

But can we take a step back for a minute and think about why we enrolled our kids in lessons in the first place? Was it so they could be the next great concert pianist? Or was it simply so they could learn about music and have fun?

Kids have way too much on their plates these days. The pressure to perform is everywhere and I hate the thought that kids are removed from what could be a lifetime of joyful music making simply because they didn’t practice per someone else’s guidelines.

If your child is naturally motivated to practice on a regular basis, great! You won the piano parent lottery! But if not, let them discover aspects of the instrument which are fun for them. If they love watching piano YouTube videos, great! Or if they love to improv instead of practice their lesson materials, awesome!

Stop forcing piano practice. Instead, encourage anything even remotely related to the instrument and you will foster a lifelong love for music. And honestly, isn’t that the whole point?

Lastly, make sure you find a piano teacher who supports the main goal as being fun and enjoyment rather than strict practice schedules and the pressure to perform.

If you need help locating a piano teacher, make sure you check out my recent post on how to find the right piano teacher for you!

Learning Piano Means Hours of Daily Practice

And speaking of piano practice myths … let’s dive into the one about daily practice requirements.

When I tell people that I practice piano every single day, the response is often, “Wow! How do you find the time? I’d love to play but have absolutely zero time in my day.”

And the truth is, I make time. I prioritize practice on a daily basis and refuse to let anything interfere with that time.

But I also don’t spend hours upon hours of playing on a daily basis. My practice sessions are often 20 minutes or less. And even those 20 minutes are frequently interrupted by kids screaming, work calls, and just the general chaos of everyday life.

Sometimes those practice sessions don’t even involve putting my fingers to the keys. When life gets too busy, they may consist of watching instructional videos (yes, on YouTube) or performances of pieces I’m currently studying.

Although there are days when I’m able to devote more time to practice, I’ve actually found that my memory retention is better when I practice for shorter time periods.

And so I continue to carve out those small chunks of time in my day to become a better pianist. If you’re curious to hear the end result of all those small practice sessions, check out my performance of one of my favorite pieces of all time … Elegie in E-flat Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Elegie in E-flat Minor, Sergei Rachmaninoff

Piano Practice Myths About Your Age

I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me that they would love to learn piano but never learned when they were young. My response to this one?

It’s NEVER too late!

There are actually so many advantages to learning the instrument as an adult. Not least of which is that you get to decide WHY you want to learn to play and have the flexibility to determine HOW you learn.

No one is forcing you to learn a style or genre you hate. And there’s no guilting you into recitals or exams you’re completely disinterested in taking.

You are in control.

Another major benefit of learning piano as an adult is your attention span. Children have such short attention spans and keeping them focused is a perpetual challenge. As an adult, however, your ability to focus on something for longer periods of time is completely developed and when combined with motivation, you are an unstoppable force!

You also get to choose whether your practice instrument is a keyboard, a spinet, or even a baby grand. Your learning is all in your hands.

How incredible is that?

If you’re curious about even more benefits of learning to play piano as an adult, make sure to check out this post.

All Music Must be Memorized

In the world of classical piano, memorization is historically mandatory for performances. Watch any great pianist on YouTube and it’s very likely that they are playing an incredibly difficult piece without a shred of music in front of them.

And they’re pulling it off without so much as a wrong note anywhere.

Talk about intimidating!

This is one of the piano practice myths nearest and dearest to my heart because for years, I struggled with memorization. Although I started piano as a child, I never memorized ANYTHING until I began my college studies and suddenly realized memorization was mandatory.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to learn how to memorize at that level of playing! And I can’t say that I mastered the art of memorization until after college when I started memorizing for my own enjoyment.

The key phrase here is “for my own enjoyment.” Music is, at its core, something created for enjoyment. If playing from memory brings you joy, do it. But if the thought of memorizing a piece brings fear and apprehension, what’s the point?

Play for the fun of it and if that means playing from a book, so be it!

You Don’t Need a Teacher to Learn Piano

One of the most rampant piano practice myths out there involves the ability to learn piano all by yourself. There are an incredible number of apps, websites, and YouTube videos devoted to the topic of teaching yourself piano.

And I don’t necessarily disagree.

There are so many aspects of the instrument including music theory, improv, and composition which can be picked up by watching videos and reading blogs.

But there are other aspects, such as technique, which truly require the expertise and insight from a knowledgeable teacher. You simply can’t replace the 1:1 feedback you get from lessons with an experienced teacher.

And thanks to technology, there are an incredible number of teacher who offer online lessons. Teachers with a variety of performance and educational backgrounds.

The online world gives you access to teachers you would never otherwise have the ability to study with. It truly is an incredible time in history study piano!

And if you’re looking for an online teacher, check out my Resource page which lists incredibly talented piano teachers currently accepting new students.

You Must Have a Teacher to Learn Piano

I know what you’re thinking … “Didn’t you just say I needed a teacher to learn piano?”

Kind of.

Depending upon your goals, having a piano teacher is essential. This is especially true if you’re interested in pursuing higher level study of the instrument.

But if your goal is to learn a few pop chords as a party trick, apps and videos may be your best bet.

And if you have already have a solid background in the instrument but are wanting to get back into it again or simply brush up your skills, you may also benefit from an app or website.

My personal favorite online course is run by Dr. Josh Wright, an internationally acclaimed pianist. I absolutely love classical piano and his course is hands down the best for classical players. It delves into all the intricacies of technique and interpretation of some of the most beloved piano repertoire.

I personally have learned so much from the course that I became an affiliate because I felt other pianists needed to hear about it as well! If you’re interested in checking the course out for yourself, click here.

Piano Requires Perfection

“Use the talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”

Henry van Dyke

Spend any time at all trolling YouTube and you will come across a litany of flawless performances of some of the most difficult piano repertoire out there. Musical perfection at its finest.

Sometimes I think people get the impression that to play piano, you MUST play everything perfectly, all the time. And that if you’re not at least a little on the perfectionism side, piano isn’t the instrument for you.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

There’s so much that learning how to play the instrument gives you in return, even if you can’t play anything perfectly. I personally feel that as long as you inject emotion into your playing, wrong notes don’t matter.

There’s also something to be said about making each performance of a piece (whether in front of other people or your dog!) unique. Making something unique comes from a range of different factors, including wrong notes.

And as long as playing is meaningful to you, who cares what anyone else thinks?

The world could ALWAYS use a little more beauty, in whatever form it comes so play on!

If you’re struggling with perfectionism, make sure to check out this post on how to overcome perfectionism.

It’s Your Turn to Talk About Piano Practice Myths

I truly hope you have found this post both inspirational and informative in dispelling some of the biggest piano practice myths out there. And hopefully dispelling the myths has provided that little kick of motivation you need to go after your piano playing dreams!

If you’re looking for even more resources, check out the following posts:

How to Find the Right Piano Teacher for You

How to Learn Piano as an Adult

Become a Better Pianist with These 5 Simple Tools

Are You Ready to Improve Your Piano Playing?

5 Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult

And if you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course, check it out for yourself here.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this post! Did I miss one of the piano practice myths currently holding you back? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think!

Now get out there and start making some music!

How to Successfully Manage Multiple Goals at Once

How to Successfully Manage Multiple Goals at Once

January is the month for goal setting and this post on how to manage multiple goals at once is dedicated to a specific set of the population. If any of the following rings true for you, keep reading because I’ve got the answers you never knew you needed!

Are you someone who dabbles in a little bit of everything? Do you have such varied interests that people raise their eyebrows a bit when you describe them all?

Maybe you switch careers and hobbies like you switch your socks because you become bored so easily. Or maybe you have given up hope of ever making significant progress in any one area.

You long to just find that “one thing” you were meant to be and do but somehow it always evades you. Each new thing you try promises to be that “one thing” but it never really pans out that way.

And the thought of sticking with one career for an entire lifetime terrifies you.

If any of this sounds familiar, first know that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. There’s actually immense value in having wide-ranging interests in today’s world. Your perspective is unique and worthy of celebration!

And understanding how to manage multiple goals simultaneously requires an understanding of just how valuable you are.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Why Having Multiple Interests is a Strength

Have you ever heard the term “multipotentialite?” The term describes someone who has multiple interests across a wide range of topics. Up until several weeks ago when I stumbled across this life-changing book, I had no idea this was even a thing.

I thought there was something wrong with me because I could never stick with one thing for very long. My first undergraduate degree (yes, I have two) was a long and winding road which has essentially nothing to do with my current career.

And my hobbies which range from dressage to piano to quilting also offer unprecedented diversity. If you’re interested in hearing more about my story, make sure to check out last week’s post!

But after reading this book, I have come to realize that having multiple interests offers huge advantages. The first is that having multiple interests means you’ve mastered the art of being a beginner. Because you’ve started so many different things, you’re completely unafraid to try new things. This also means that you’re open to new experiences and most importantly, ways of thinking.

The second advantage of having multiple interests is that you’re able to draw on diverse background knowledge to solve problems. Your perspective is entirely unique which means you’re not stuck in the rut of thinking which traps many specialists. And by “specialist” I mean someone who sticks to one career or hobby and hones it deeply instead of the “generalist” who tries everything.

The third advantage is that having multiple interests is the mark of intelligence. It’s a sign that you’re curious and interested in the world around you. You desperately want to learn new things and grow as a person.

But with the strengths also come challenges. One of the biggest being how to manage multiple goals simultaneously.

Why It’s Difficult to Manage Multiple Goals

At first glance, it may seem as if the ability to manage multiple goals at once is easy if you also have multiple interests. And for some multipotentialites, goal attainment may be fairly simple and straightforward.

But for others, learning how to manage multiple goals at one time is a learned skill. Without this skill, you could easily resign yourself to the fact that there’s too much on your plate and you should just quit everything.

You may also feel that because you are doing so much, excelling in any one area is completely unattainable and therefore not worth your time.

Or maybe you feel overwhelmed by the amount of time required to make progress in any of your areas of interest.

Maybe you’ve abandoned interests in the past for these or any number of other perfectly legitimate reasons. Achieving goals is tough, even for people who set their sights on only one thing over an entire lifetime. It’s especially tough for those of us who have seemingly conflicting aspirations.

But time, overwhelm, perfectionism, and a range of other reasons don’t have to hold you back any longer. Remember that multiple interest advantage about being open to new ways of thinking? You’ve already mastered it and are well-equipped to change your mind set about your ability to manage multiple goals! Let’s get started!

Pace Yourself

I think sometimes we have a tendency to think that because we have all these interests, we MUST do each of them daily. I’m here to tell you that if you’re anything like me, doing everything every single day would be IMPOSSIBLE.

Give up the pipe dream that you can do ALL THE THINGS on all the days. It’s not only a lie but it’s a fast track to burnout. And if you’re burned out, being your awesome self is impossible. You (and the world!) deserve more.

Learn to flip the narrative around by looking at your time from a larger perspective. Instead of pursuing your interests on a daily basis, consider mapping out a week or a month at a time. Sit down and carve out chunks of time for all those interests in advance.

Dividing your interests up also offers the benefit of rotation and thereby decreases the risk that you will easily become bored. It’s a win-win all around!

Prioritize

In line with pacing yourself is the vital concept of prioritization. There will be times when one particular interest is more important or relevant than at others.

Learn to become flexible and follow your intuition.

Both pacing and prioritization continue to be personally challenging for me but I have learned to accept the fact that I simply can’t do everything. But as long as I fit one of my interests into each day, I consider it a win.

One thing which has helped me with both pacing myself and prioritizing my interests is having a planner. This incredibly useful planner facilitates daily, monthly, and longer term planning involving multiple projects at the same time. And when you’re trying to manage multiple goals, this is the planner for you!

Don’t Fall for the Myth of Immediate Gratification

We live in a world of immediate gratification. The answers to any question you can possibly think of are at your fingertips whether it’s 1 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning.

If you suddenly have the urge to talk to someone you haven’t talked to in years, all you have to do is hit them up on social media.

And if you’re wondering what your favorite celebrity is up to right now, simply consult Instagram.

All this immediate gratification sometimes fools us into thinking that EVERYTHING can and should be immediate. It has us believing that if something takes longer than 5 minutes, it’s not worth our time.

But the truth is that true accomplishment, the kind you feel down to your very core, takes time. And for those of us interested in everything, this is a tough lesson because there may be times we’re tempted to move on rather than put forth more effort.

Sometimes moving on is exactly what you need to do. But there will be other times when sticking with it for the long haul is your calling. Getting clear on your why is usually key in determining whether to keep pressing on or abandon ship.

And when your venture is to manage multiple goals, getting crystal clear on your why is crucial.

Become Indistractable

When you have multiple interests, the obvious answer to pursuing all of them simultaneously may involve multitasking. After all, doesn’t doing more than one thing at the same time improve efficiency?

As I learned in this book, it actually does not.

Humans are incapable of multitasking. Need proof? Try to keep reading this post while multiplying 362 x 586 in your head. Notice how you really can only focus on one of those tasks at a time?

We actually become more efficient when we focus on only one thing at a time. And the fewer interruptions while we complete the task, the better the outcome and the more efficient we become.

Each distraction shifts your focus away from the task at hand and it takes more time and energy to re-focus than staying honed in on the task in the first place would have taken.

Find ways to protect your time and you will be amazed at how your ability to manage multiple goals at the same time also improves.

Time Batching

Along with becoming indistractable is the idea of batching your time to improve efficiency and thereby your ability to manage multiple goals simultaneously.

Time batching involves doing all similar tasks at the same time and then moving to the next set of similar tasks. A simple example of this would be blocking off an hour of your day to address all email-related tasks instead of responding to each one as they filter in throughout the day.

It may seem counterintuitive but responding to messages as they come in shifts your attention from whatever you were doing before. This means you not only didn’t finish that other task but you require additional time and energy to re-focus after responding to the message.

It also increases the chances that your attention will be drawn even further down a nonproductive rabbit hole. As an example, let’s pretend the email is advertising a sale at your favorite store. The temptation will be to immediately check out just how cheap those jeans you love are.

Pretty soon you’re checking out tops, shoes, and jewelry. Then dresses and skirts. And then you realize it’s been an hour and you’ve made zero progress on whatever you were doing before that email hit your inbox.

Been there, done that. Which is why I now batch my time and have seen gigantic improvements in my efficiency and ability to manage multiple goals at the same time.

Other Thoughts on How to Manage Multiple Goals

I simply can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of embracing all that comes with having multiple interests. There’s a freedom which comes with knowing it’s completely normal to have wide-ranging interests. Not only is it normal but there are incredible benefits to being a generalist rather than a specialist.

Give yourself the gift of flexibility. Know that your interests will shift more rapidly than those of specialists and that’s ok. You may find that there are certain interests which stay relatively stable over time while others change quickly.

And that’s ok too.

Keep exploring, learning, and growing. Avoid rigid time frames for your goals because this only contributes to frustration and stalled progress when deadlines are not met, especially when you have multiple goals and interests.

Never underestimate the value of being able to apply what you’ve learned in one area to another. You never know how what you’re doing now will benefit you or others in the future.

Your contribution is unique, amazing, and worthy of sharing with others!

It’s Your Turn

I truly hope you found this post inspirational and are more motivated than ever to manage multiple goals simultaneously! Remember that there are so many other people out there who are also torn by having multiple interests and that it’s not only completely normal but a desirable quality to have.

Learning how to maximize this quality in yourself takes time but is well worth the effort. This book was pivotal for me and completely revolutionized my outlook on having multiple interests. If you’ve never read it but this post struck something inside, I highly recommend you read it!

And for a high quality planner which supports the unique needs of someone who has multiple interests, check out this one:

Lastly, you can improve your ability to manage multiple goals by reading this book:

And as always, I’d love to hear your perspective on this post and whether you have tips for how to manage multiple goals at the same time. Until next time, stay safe, healthy, and motivated to be the best version of yourself!