Creating Incentives

“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”
Derek Sivers

As I have mentioned before, practicing drums is BORING. In order to actually do it, you have to find ways to incentivize yourself into doing it. Once you start, the battle is essentially over. Everyone knows they should practice—lack of knowledge isn’t the problem—the problem is having (creating) the incentive to practice.

“You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.”
-Dr. Jerome Bruner

What does this mean? Essentially, we often do not have the motivation to do something. No one feels like practicing drums after a long day of work or a stressful bout of school work. Willpower is weak (See interview with David DeSteno on willpower and emotional success). However, if you’re able to sum up the will just to get started, inertia will kick in, and it’s easy to stay there and finish the task.

And it’s even easier if you create an incentive for yourself!

I often fall prey to what was mentioned above. I do not feel like practicing after a day at work or after a long study/homework session. However, I have become quite effective at creating incentives to get myself to practice.

I have spent the last few weeks at home during the day time. I know myself well enough to know that around 11 am is when I get hungry. This is around the time when I will practice. I incentivize myself with a fantastic meal afterward. I normally prep the meal before I start practicing and get excited about it in the process. Then I practice, which consists of a structure I will discuss in my next blog post, and then I reward myself with a meal. If I am playing a video game, I will incentivize myself by saying that for every hour of practicing, I get an hour of video game time. This is quite effective and lets me feel productive while gaming. Or, if I am playing a game for a few hours at a time (most recently Horizon: Zero Dawn) I will set a timer for an hour. Whenever the timer goes off, I will go play 2 rudiments for 5 minutes each. Another incentive I remind myself of is that the more I practice my band’s songs at home, the tighter I will be able to play them live, and there is no better feeling than playing a tight set.

This is how it feels to play a tight set:


My task to you is to create an incentive or incentives to practice. Figure out what works for you. There’s no need to create a perfect system, often times, perfect systems are abandoned. The good system you stick with is better than the perfect system you abandon. For people who are willing to take it to the extreme, there’s stickK. But there are significantly less punishing ways to accomplish the same results.

Let me know in a comment or an email what works for you!

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