Extrinsic and Intrinsic Guitar Goals

Why are extrinsic and intrinsic goals important?

Having the right goal can help you learn guitar in a way that is smooth, enjoyable, and delightfully surprising. I call the top reason your top guitar goal. Having the wrong type of reason will make learning hellish for you. It's not a bad idea to write this goal down, like right now if you haven't already. 

The rest of this blog will go over the difference between extrinsic goals and intrinsic goals in more detail. As you are taking in the information, take a close look at your current top guitar goal. Is it more extrinsic or intrinsic? Knowing one way or the other can help you; You could make your experience learning guitar much easier and smoother.

First things first: let's get some definitions and examples going.

Extrinsic and intrinsic goals: Definitions and examples

The word extrinsic has a sense that it's not a part of something, or is from the outside. Similarly, extrinsic goals depend on outside conditions to be met for the goal to be reached. Until these conditions are met, satisfaction cannot occur. Extrinsic goals also tend to have a subtle sense of urgency to them. Here are some examples:

  1. "I want to make my wife happy that I can play her favorite song."
  2. "I want to be better at guitar than Jack White."
  3. "I have to learn guitar before I turn 25 years old."

What about the word intrinsic? Intrinsic has a sense that it is already a part of something, naturally and spontaneously arriving through one's own self. Similarly, intrinsic goals are met when a certain internal condition is achieved. Here are some examples:

  1. "I want to enjoy learning and playing guitar."
  2. "I want to create music and express who I am on the guitar."
  3. "I want to feel great after I play guitar with other people."

Which is better: Extrinsic or intrinsic goals?

Extrinsic goals can be motivating at the start, but can fizzle out later on. You'll feel incredibly good about the progress of your work when practice is going smoothly. However, since you're human, you will have bad days. On those days, people who set extrinsic goals find out exactly how heavy they are to carry. 

Intrinsic goals are different. Because they come from inside you, because you aren't really doing it for anyone else, the progress of your work tends to be a bit more natural. There is no one else  involved in your goal except for you. You are just learning, and stumbling, and picking yourself up again. You won't do it for anyone but yourself, for your own enjoyment. Plus, there is less of a chance for a sense of urgency to creep into your work. That's worth the price of admission.

In summary, you can pick whatever goals you want to pick. Go for it! Urgent goals, patient goals, whatever. It's up to you. Keep in mind that intrinsic goals won't weigh you down as much as extrinsic goals will. Keep in mind that learning guitar will get dicey for you at least once or twice... You might as well be prepared.