Effort vs. Pace


Chelsea Tanner Flutist Mindset Coach

Let’s talk about effort.


Everyone says, “practice smarter not harder.”


They also say, “there’s always someone working harder than you.”


Moral of the story, outwork everyone and you’ll be sure you can hold your head up high. That’s your best chance of winning…


I’m tired just typing this, because that was my MO for ten years and that headspace is all too familiar to me.


Do everything, move anywhere, never stop.


When I think about the years I’ve spent in the practice room, refining skills, mastering concepts, being consistent, because I didn’t want to be outworked. That’s what I call practicing scared on a big-picture level. That’s what I had done forever.


But this morning I went on a run guided by the Nike app and the coach said something interesting to consider. He said, “Easy isn’t a pace, it’s an effort.”


When training for an audition or a half marathon, we get to control our effort. And “easy” effort is not rewarded in music, or not thought to be what we “should” be doing.


We are told we need to work “hard” not “easy.”


Easy isn’t a pace, it’s an effort…


I truly think this is the key to making hard things easy. If we put a lot of effort and laborious thought into practicing, we aren’t practicing ease as an effort. We are practicing hard as an effort. It’s exhausting.


I’m done practicing effort for effort’s sake. I used to be all about it. Even if I didn’t win, people couldn’t tell me that I didn’t practice enough. I put in the hours, the effort. But nothing felt easy like it probably should have after 4 degrees and years of school and festivals. It almost seemed harder in a way.


I was practicing in a way that took a lot of effort, mentally, and at times physically. These words have different dimensions. Working hard can also describe dedication, not just the quality of the work. This nuance is important.


If we have a ton of mental drama around what is “enough” work. Are we doing enough? Are we good enough? If it feels hard, maybe it's easier to assume we are doing enough.


But there’s no such thing as “enough.”


There’s no magical letter you get from the universe saying you’re good enough if you work a specific amount of hard (whatever that means).


You are the decider of what “enough” is. You get to decide whether you’re good enough or doing enough. No matter what other people say or do. It is a choice to believe that what you’re doing is always enough.


“I’m always good enough” used to be my phone screen background. Practicing thoughts will create beliefs. Want to believe you’ve worked hard enough, or done enough? It won’t come from doing more. It’ll come from you changing your mind about what “enough” means.


Want help with this?


Let’s chat! Set up a free consultation here and learn how mindset coaching can help you feel adequate and grounded in your playing and in your efforts.


- Chelsea