I’m a little pissed off and a little embarrassed. I’ve lost a bit of my mojo, musically and financially. The latter is fine; I just need to check in on my accounts more like every day, rather than once a week. The first is harder to deal with. There’s a lack of direction, because there are so many songs I want to learn and, let’s be honest, I almost always put in just enough time to pick up the sloppy basics before I’m off on another tangent. And then there’s pure frustration, because therefore I can’t seem to play anything cleanly and beautifully.
I got to thinking about it, and the paths to getting pro at either actually have a lot in common.
It takes time. Like any other habit, they both take time and practice. You won’t train your hands to work in unison overnight, or build toughness the first day you learn barre chords. This is the hardest part for me – putting in enough regular, raw time to maintain strength.
No matter how much I save or how little I spend, I still tend to put off checking up on my bank accounts – and of course, the longer I procrastinate, the scarier the whole prospect gets. T can’t fathom how I can spend so many hours dealing to finances every month, but if I don’t, everything starts to spin funny, or at least that’s how it feels.
It’s painful. If you play (any stringed instrument, probably), you know what I mean. Cramping hands and raw fingertips. Similarly, especially at first, it can be painful to see how much you waste on crap. It was only a few years ago that we could easily blow $50 in a weekend on nothing but milkshakes and sushi without thinking twice.
It’s frustrating. Let the gat gather dust for a few days and start to lose your calluses and dexterity – and the worse it gets the longer you go without playing. (Course, the deeper your calluses, the more leeway you get – but you’re also less likely to take breaks in that case). Fall off the financial wagon and lose track of what you spend, and you’ll come back to a hot mess. Case in point: disorganisation was recently my downfall. I got $70 cash, and planned to spend it while putting $70 from my cheque account into savings instead. Of course, I didn’t do any banking for a week, and totally forgot about it; that $70 disappeared into the ether. Epic fail.
It’s about finding tricks and methods that work for you. On the guitar, are many ways to play the same sequence – the same note can be found across different strings and frets. Find a new tab with a different pattern that’s easier for you, or improvise your own. Financially, the cash envelope system might be your saving grace…or it could be your worst enemy. Maybe you like having separate sub-accounts for various purposes. Find a software or spreadsheet that works for you. Not everyone is an Excel fan, and not everyone is comfortable having financial info online.
But when you nail it? Finishing a week, fortnight or month in the black, or letting rip a blistering, pitch-perfect solo is so worth it.