Reader Discretion is Advised
“I will play the f minor Chopin Nocturne by the summer,” you said to yourself.
“I’ll finish that novel by the end of the year,” you heard your friend saying in the cafeteria.
“This year I will finally complete my 1st piano sonata. After all, it is on my new year’s resolution list,” you said to your auntie while strolling in the park.
But, as we all know, you never did…
You are like most of us (me included); a lazy, self-absorbed, wannabe artist that prefers to watch the real artists pass you by. But, that’s normal. Imagine if you actually did the work! You would have been a brilliant writer or a skilled musician or even a celebrated painter. But that cannot happen for most of us and that’s why we will let the Hemingways, the Bill Evanses and the Turners do their job, unhindered by our artistic procrastination and vast incapacity.
But we have better things to do, don’t we? Strolling in the park, for example. Window shopping for three hours. Treating the internal walls of our shed to paint it afterwards. Working like crazy to buy a Louis Vuitton bag. And many more important things to holistically improve our lives. Yes?
But enough of my patronising. After all, you are reading this article and somehow I have to make a point.
The Night Owl
I’ll tell you, for the last 10 years, I have been a night owl (as the people I described in the previous paragraphs would say). But not to indulge in some Netflix series (even though I pay for a yearly subscription for no reason) or to share my nonsensical thoughts on the social media, but to realise my “artistic” needs.
One of those artistic needs is to write this article that you read, while baffled by my monumental preposterousness. And you know when do I get to write this article? Guess. Yes, at nights – when you are relaxing in the comfort of your couch watching Netflix and accomplishing, well, zilch. Well, each to their own. For me, writing about the piano is what makes me keep going and allows me to feel like an active musician. And not only I write articles, but also, none other than original music… Who could have believed it… my artistic ludicrousness has reached unreachable depths.
How I do it
Well, it is very, very easy. I use my method of “Three Boxes” that I preach to my pupils all day long. Easy-peasy.
Here’s how it goes:
There are “three boxes” in anything we set our mind to:
Figure 1 The Three Boxes
— The first box is our goal (what we want to achieve at any given time). For instance, complete a piece of music, finish a chapter in our book, or even accomplishing simpler goals, such as sending an apologetic email to a friend or taking the trash out.
— The second box is our reluctance to pursue our goal because of many foreseeable and unforeseeable circumstances, such as tiredness, timidity, shyness, difficulty of task at hand, tendency to procrastination, or other internal delaying tactics.
— The third box is the box to make us reach our goal: Is the act of doing the work; practising, writing, drawing, etc.
All three boxes live inside us, and we all have the same predispositions before pursuing our goals. But only the professionals and the ones that leave no stone unturned in their quest to achieve their ultimate goal manage to “crash” the middle box. And this, my dearest readers, explains the Three Boxes method; to terminate the Middle box — to end our hesitances and the things that make us stop doing the “right” thing.
Figure 2 Evading the Second Box and reach our goal faster
How to Accomplish the Three Boxes Method
To bypass the second box and skip over to the third box and subsequently accomplish your goal, you need to be in a kind of robot-mode. That means you should not let your emotions and the negativity of the second box spiral out of control, influencing your actions.
So, on the piano, when the notion of the work that needs to be done comes to mind (first box), just suppress and block the second box from appearing in your mind and just go practise. Do it mechanically. Even if you feel exhausted, you will notice that after a few minutes of going into this sequence of events (first to third box) will make you wanting to carry on practising. This is a mind trick, per se, that tricks our brains in essence to detour from its usual psychological paths and just keep going. I have to admit, I am in that mode right this very moment I write this article; I did not have time to write during the day, so I had to make myself do the work and meet this article’s deadline late at night.
So, try out the Three Boxes method – especially when tired. Good things will come.
Copyright © 29th of November 2021, by Nikos Kokkinis