The Cleary Theory

I'll play once the pedal has arrived

April 18, 2021 • ☕️ 2 min read

Whether you’re an aspiring or an accomplished guitarist, it’s all too easy to be sucked into the world of gear. Before you know it, you’ve developed an obsession with searching for the perfect setup of guitars, amps and pedals.

But what’s really preventing us from sounding like our heroes and producing magic with our fingers? It’s probably not owning that brand new guitar pedal you’ve had your eye on.

It’s so much easier to search for more gear in the neverending pursuit of “tone” than it is to put in the hours to develop our playing skills. Putting in the time to practice is much more challenging.

It was refreshing to hear John Mayer, in a podcast last week, talk about his own playing procrastination. He’ll often use the excuse of waiting for a new pedal to arrive before practising as he knows he should. He’ll make promises to himself that once the pedal has come, he’ll put in the hours.

It’s great to hear that a world-class musician also procrastinates like us mortals.

But this affliction doesn’t only affect guitarists.

With lockdown rules easing here in the UK, I’ve been waiting for April 12th. Why? Because that’s the day the gyms reopen, so I’ll finally be able to look after my health.

I’m sure I’ll find another excuse once they open, though. If I’m honest with myself, I could have looked after my health this entire past year. I could have been more religious with my bodyweight exercise, walks, cycling and nutrition.

But ever since the April 12th date was unveiled a couple of months ago, it’s given me an even bigger reason to slack off until then. Having a far off date to postpone any action is just what I needed—anything to avoid actually working out.

And this applies to professional life.

There’s a course for a particular programing language that’d really help my effectiveness in my day job. I first used the excuse of just having joined a new company to not start it. I reasoned that there were already tons of things to learn. I promised myself I’d get to it once I’d settled in.

But then I found myself running a project at work, so I had another reason to put it off.

Once the project had shipped, I moved apartments. Of course, now I’d be spending all my free time looking for new furniture. The course would have to wait again.

This is 6 months after I bought the course.

It’s an endless cycle.

So how do I break out of this? Action.

Can’t go to the gym yet? I can do 30 pushups each morning.

Big project at work? I can still do 20 minutes of the course in the morning.

Guitar pedal has yet to arrive? I can still improve my playing until then. Perhaps I’ll soon be able to play something worth putting an effects pedal on in the first place!

Action, every day is what’s needed.

What are you putting off?

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    The Cleary Theory

    Matt Cleary

    Matt Cleary's musings on fitness, startups and tryin' to live the good life. You should follow him on Twitter