I’ve seen how one small change in musicians’ thinking can have profound effects on their motivation, ability to achieve goals, and their overall mood. 

That change is eliminating the word “should” from thoughts and words.  Sounds simplistic, right?  How can getting rid of one word have such a big effect on musicians’ lives?

The word “should” puts your thinking in a make-believe world.  This could be a make-believe world of the past, present, or future, but it’s definitely not the world you actually live in.

Take a look at these common thoughts that lodge themselves inside musicians’ heads:

“I should double my practice time this week.” 

“I should have worked harder before that last gig.”

One of these thoughts looks to the future, and one reflects on the past.  But, both are full of guilt and non-reality.  Both make musicians feel bad about themselves.

Here are some more sentences to think about.  Each sentence is a common thought that musicians have.  Read each pair and see how they make you feel:

1.  a.  I should practice two hours a day.
     b.  I will practice two hours a day.

2.  a.  I should practice this until it’s right.
     b.  I will practice this until it’s right.

3.  a.  I should take that audition.
     b.  I will take that audition.

4.  a.  I should play this slowly to see if I really know it.
     b.  I will play this slowly to see if I really know it.

Amazing, isn’t it?  One word different, and the whole world seems to shift just a bit.

For most people, seeing the word “should” makes them feel guilty.  Seeing the word “will” gives them confidence.  How do you feel when you see these thoughts in writing?

I have given this exercise to many of my music students: Every time you use the word “should,” replace it with the word “will.”  “Will” demands action from you and makes it clear if you truly want to do whatever it is you’re thinking of doing.

 Try it for yourself, and leave a comment to let me know how it works for you.

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