I write about setting goals a lot when playing guitar and it really does work. However, there is another side of the coin which is equally important.

What happens when you set these goals and you DON’T ACHIEVE THEM?

Most people including myself want to immediately get discouraged and quit.

I mean you set the goal and worked towards it, but you didn’t reach it.

I would say more than half of the goals I have set over the years didn’t come to pass within the first time frame I originally had planned.

So what do you do?

Well from my experience here is what I do.

First, you need to take a look back and find out if your goal was a little too ambitious. If it was, maybe you didn’t give yourself enough time to achieve it.

Second, it could be that at this current time in life you really weren’t meant to achieve this goal, but somewhere along the way it still can come to pass.

Don’t Give Up

When you don’t achieve what you’re striving for, the key is to not give up. Some goals you set may take 10 times or more of setting them before they ever come to pass. This is ok. If everything were easy then the satisfaction would not be as great when you finally achieved it!

I can tell you that I have experienced this a lot. It is always frustrating, and I immediately want to give up, because who am I to achieve this goal anyway.

When these thoughts occur you have to keep telling yourself that this is just the way that it is, and if I keep trying I will eventually get there.

And maybe if you don’t get there for a good while something different you never knew you could achieve may occur through the persistence of not giving up. I’ve had this happen many times as well.

BB King Vibrato

I remember back in 2007 when I first started to work on the “BB King Vibrato”. I had always used the Clapton style which is good, but I wanted to get the BB sound. I would practice it for hours. Then at gigs, I would try this BB style vibrato and it would sound uneven and out of tune. This went on for a couple of years.

I always reverted back to the Clapton style because I knew I could nail it. But I really wanted to nail the BB King style. After a few years of trying to figure it out and with a lot of practice, it finally clicked. I was doing it!

This day was a monumental achievement and the satisfaction I felt after sticking with it for so long made up for all the frustrations from the last 3 years of failing at it. I so much wanted to quit and just stick with the Clapton style, but I made up my mind to keep on going.

After these revelations, I made the Play Like BB King Course to show people how I learned this style of vibrato and this has become one of my best selling lessons I have ever created.

This vibrato style has also become my main style of vibrato for many things. Now just think if I would have quit when the tough got going.

Feel Like Quitting?

So the next time you feel like quitting after the goal you set didn’t happen, try to think about how much satisfaction you will get when you actually do finally achieve your goal. I feel like it also helps to actually picture yourself doing the goal that you’re setting as well.

This can help ingrain it into your mind that you WILL achieve this goal at some point.

I heard this quote recently in a movie and it really made an impact on me. I think it sums up the point I’m trying to make here very nicely.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Akeelah and the Bee

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  1. Great post … and so true. After many years of “playing” the guitar, I have to admit that only the last year or so have I tried to become a ‘guitar player.’ Certainly some days I wonder if I’ll ever “get it” … but then I just have to look back to where I was a year ago, and I see the progress I’ve made. My advice is to continually seek to learn. For me, your lessons have been a good place to start.

    1. Thanks Russ. If you can’t look back and see how far you’ve come then you will not continue because the progress is so small it’s hard to see until quite some time has passed.

  2. John, This is a great post, and it transcends guitar.

    It can be applied to anything… career or financial goals, or even the ubiquitous “new year’s eve weight loss” goal that everyone sets and then 99% of us tank on it.

  3. Hi John, another great post.

    I remember feeling the same feeling that you are talking about many times as I progressed through learning the guitar. Many techniques like alternate picking, tapping and sweep picking alluded me for the longest time but when I finally managed to do it I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment.

    If you quit you will never feel that sense of self improvement that learning the guitar or doing anything in life worth doing is all about. Thank you for reminding me this. I hope other people reading this also get something positive from this article like I have.

  4. Well, I can’t; 3 years of trying, private teachers, the internet, and about 2-3 hours a day practice, I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve failed, and I wanted this badly. My wife and I had a challenge, of sorts; I said it could be learned, she said it was natural talent, and I’ve seen now she is more right than I. Her mom was functionally illiterate, NEVER had a lesson of any sort, and could play piano like Jerry Lee. I think in the age of the internet, people believe they can learn anything, but do you really believe that?? Can anyone learn to rap?? Probably not. There is a great line from a Chet Atkins song, Yaketty Axe, that says “I’m confessin, I never had a lesson, my notes are just guessin”. People trying to sell things on the internet say “don’t give up, you’ll get it”, but I’m not sure how long one should pursue something that’s not falling into place. Just my 2 cents

    1. Wow, I find myself still trying; I must admit, though at times the frustration is overwhelming, the drive to be able to make music is more so. I guess I’ve made progress, but wish I was as good as John [or anybody]. So maybe once you’ve embarked on this road, you can’t quit??

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