S.M.A.R.T. New Year’s Resolutions

Hola Brain Dumpers,

Welcome to another edition of Marcus Brain Dumps.

Today I’m going to talk about my New Year’s resolutions. I have 3 resolutions and I think that I can achieve them if I put in a little effort. Of course, there is the chance that I don’t achieve them. . . and that would suck. Considering the possibility of failure, I will create S.M.A.R.T. goals that will make success far more likely.  So, first let me explain what an S.M.A.R.T goal is. I hope this explanation of S.M.A.R.T. goals and it’s application to my own life will illustrate their usefulness and implementation.

This explanation is taken from Mindtools.com, and the original concept is attributed to George T. Doran.

S is for Specific

Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise, you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it.

M is for Measurable

It’s important to have measurable goals so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.


A is for Achievable

Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.

R is for Relevant

This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it’s important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you’re still responsible for achieving your own goal.


T is for Time-bound

Every goal needs a target date so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

Marcus’ S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2018

This year, I’m focusing on 3 outcomes:

  1. Become a better drummer
  2. Lose weight
  3. Continue to excel in school

Let’s focus on drumming to see how to make our goals S.M.A.R.T.

Become a better drummer

  • Specific
    • “Become a better drummer” is an ambiguous statement and can be considered to be achieved with enough mental contortions and self-delusion. I’ll ask a question that will force a more specific outcome: What criteria if met, would mean that I had become a better drummer?
    • Meeting these criteria should obviously mean that I would have accomplished something that is beyond my current skillset. In my case, that would mean to play all the international drum rudiments. So we’ll adjust our statement to “Play all 40 international drum rudiments.”
  • Measurable
    • Now, we’ll need some method to measure our progress. Tracking progress means tracking incremental gains towards our overall goal. So what incremental outcomes can I track that would mean I’m making surefire progress towards playing all 40 international drum rudiments?
    • With drumming, you can play something fast and slow, with accents and without accents. You can play it on one specific drum, or you can play it across multiple drums. You can also play them for a long time or a short time. So we have to decide how fast we are going to play the rudiments, and with what accents, on which drums, and for how long. These decisions are somewhat arbitrary but they should still challenge us as we make progress. If we decide in the Achievable section that these decisions need to be adjusted, then so be it.
    • For now, we can adjust our statement to the following: “Play all 40 international drum rudiments and play each rudiment at 120 beats per minute (bpm) with the fastest notes as 16th notes, without accents, limited to the snare drum, and for 5 minutes.”
  • Achievable
    • The Achievable section is our checkpoint in the process of making S.M.A.R.T. goals, with every adjustment to our goals statement, we have to ask, “Is this achievable?” So let’s see if our current version is achievable.
    • First, we’ll make sure that our goal doesn’t our goal doesn’t break the laws of man or of physics. . . we’re good there.
    • Next, when checking to see the achievability of a goal, you have to be honest about your current skills and how far you’d have to stretch your skills to achieve your goals.
    • I can definitely play the 10 double stroke roll-based rudiments at 120 bpm with the fastest hits as 16th notes, without accents, and limited to the snare, and for 5 minutes but I can’t definitely say that I can play the other 30 rudiments with the same constraints.
    • One trouble spot is single strokes, which I can barely play at 90 bpm with each stroke as a 16th note. However,  since I’m almost there, I know that I can stretch my abilities until I can completely master single strokes at 90 bpm. After that, I can master the rest of the single stroke based-rudiment at 90 bpm including diddles which are a combination of singles and doubles.
    • Flams are also giving me trouble and I can barely play them at 45 bpm with each flam as a 16th note. So we’ll set our benchmark for flam-based rudiments at 45 bpm.
    • Our goal is becoming a little too long to be encapsulated as a single statement so let’s describe our goal as a list from now on.
      • Become a better drummer by playing all 40 international drum rudiments:
        • Maintain double stroke roll rudiments at 120 bpm
        • Play single stroke rudiments 90 bpm
        • Play flam rudiments at 45 bpm
        • Play all rudiments with the fastest hits as 16th notes, without accents, on the snare, and for 5 minutes
  • Relevant
    • In this section, we re-consider if the goal is actually important to us after having a clear understanding of the measures necessary to achieve it. Will this improve our lives somehow? Maybe our self-worth, or financial well-being, or relationships, or joy?
    • Drumming is important to my life in many ways.  It boosts my social worth, stimulates me intellectually, gives me “flow” which is important to maintaining happiness, provides an outlet to express myself, and gives me an immediate path to meeting and bonding with people through “jamming” and discussing music.  Increasing my skills as a drummer increases all these benefits so it is definitely worth it.
  • Time-bound
    • Without a time-frame, goals become nebulous desires that get pushed to “someday” and “never”. In our example, we’ll set a time-frame for the overall goal and a time-frame for the incremental gains that we outlined in Measurable.
    • My goal is to master all the rudiments by the end of 2018. There are 40 rudiments to master and I think to master 1 rudiment per week achievable. But what does schedule mean for daily time commitment? I think it is achievable with 25 minutes of practice per day, 6 days per week. On this schedule, I’ll finish with time to spare if I start on Sunday, Jan 7. In addition, we’ll add a few more bits of criteria to make our goal more focused
    • The final version of our goal becomes
      • Become a better drummer by playing all 40 international drum rudiments:
        • Play double stroke roll rudiments at 120 bpm, do this first
        • Play single stroke rudiments 90 bpm, do this second
        • Play flam rudiments at 45 bpm, do this last
        • Play all rudiments with the fastest hits as 16th notes, without accents, on the snare, for 5 minutes
        • Master one rudiment per week by practicing 25 minutes per day Sunday through Friday

We did it!

Our goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. I hope you enjoyed this example and that you have a clear grasp of S.M.A.R.T. goals. Let me know what your S.M.A.R.T. New Year’s resolutions are in the comments.


Here are the S.M.A.R.T. versions of my other 2 resolutions:

  • Lose weight by dieting (same diet I used to lose 30 pounds in the first 6 months of 2017)
    • Start today
    • Eat 1 meal per day on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday and have that meal be a can of Rosarita refried beans (under 500 calories)
    • On Tuesday, eat 1 meal and have that meal be Mexican food for 1000 calories or less
    • Starting from dinner on Friday, for 24 hours eat whatever I like
    • Lose 1 pound per week starting a 190 pounds
    • Weigh 170 at the end of the year
    • For holidays, see my other post, (adjust days according to 2018)
  • Continue to excel in school by maintaining a 4.0 GPA
    • At the very least, study 5.5 hours per day Sunday through Friday including breaks using the Pomodoro Technique
    • Take off work for the 3 days before each exam to study to 7.5 hours including breaks using the Pomodoro Technique




1-Hour of Drumming Per Day

Dude, Brain Dumpers,

It’s been a while since I wrote. I’m sorry it’s been so long. I really just want to get some things off my chest so that’s why I’m coming back. I haven’t been steady with my drum practice. Ever since the beginning of summer, I’ve really had a lot of trouble keeping up the habit. And I’m seriously losing sight of my goal.

I first started drumming back in 2012 when I decided that I would finally pursue a career in music. I dabbled with drums, guitar, and piano and really got into guitar for a while. Fast forward to 2015, I just moved back in with my parents after graduating college and found that they had a drum set. I fell back in love. I started drumming almost 3 hours per day every day and I wouldn’t stop. I enrolled in lessons and developed a practice routine that I would stick with for about 2 years.

That brings us to the beginning of summer this year. I guess I don’t know exactly why I stopped drumming. Writing this so that I can discover why. So bear with me. I know I broke the habit when I was studying for finals in May. I skipped a day or 2 while I was studying and that made me think it was okay for me to skip more days. I was struggling over the summer because I had a shoulder injury and didn’t want to make it worse by drumming. Then the fall semester started and I changed my study schedule so that I could only practice 90 minutes per day and not even all at once. But I didn’t stick to plan because I wasn’t disciplined enough to stop and start practice multiple times per day. Then I started a new job that really choked me for time. By that time, I was so far out of the habit that I just declared that touching of the instrument as a victory. And now we’re here -out of the habit. I need to find a practice routine that allows me to work and study and yet still allows me to build my skills on the drums.

I think 1 hour per day should be good. After all, my goal is to be a career musician.


Holla at cha boi, Brain Dumpers,

I’m feeling super good right now. Almost too good. I spent about 3 hours today reading a book called The Magic of Thinking Big. The book talks about achieving success through managed thinking. For example, to have success-inducing thoughts, you must manage your memory.  It says,

Your memory bank automatically answers and supplies you with bits of information relating to this situation that you deposited on previous occasions. Your memory, then, is the basic supplier of raw material for your new thought.

Stuff like that. It’s all blowing my mind. Mind you, this is like the 3rd time I’m reading it. It still blows my mind.

The book is exciting me and has sparked new belief in myself. I’ve never thought I could be a manager, but now, a managerial position doesn’t seem out of reach. I believe I can do it.


I want to make sure that I keep myself to true to my intentions even though I feel really good. In the past, I went through a period of really intense self-aggrandizement during which I bragged all the time about what I was going to do and how awesome I was. I had no substance though, no true belief in my abilities and no discipline.

Fast forward to now.

I now have a degree and a professional certificate; I have more discipline; I value keeping my mouth shut and getting to work.  I take this feeling-really-good thing with caution. I need to make sure that I don’t get back into my old habits of expounding endlessly about my aspirations while not doing anything.

Random segue.

I also had the thought that I’d like to be a father. But that’s not something that I actually want to do. I know that my overall goal is to be the best musician I can be and I can’t do that if I have to worry about having a kid. Besides, I don’t know how to raise a kid. I don’t even want to be married, that would suck. Yeah, it’s better for me not to have a kid. I need to focus on my music.

Brain dump ready set go.

All I want is to be a musician. I want to make millions of dollars, be in millions of people’s ears, inspire other musicians to play, and touch millions of lives. The book tells me to think big and think big I will. Except that I will not tell anyone about these aspirations. Only you guys know. I guess if I put in all my effort, there is a literal chance. If you’re talking about literal probability there is a literal chance that I will get this.  I’ll hang tight to this possibility and keep my mouth shut about it. It sounds ludicrous to any reasonable person, but people who actually did it will understand that these aspirations can be achieved. No one can know my crazy dreams. Seriously, no one can know. I can’t tell a soul. You will be my sounding board, my lovely Brain Dumpers.


I Feel Like I Accomplished Nothing Today

Brain Dumpers,

Welcome to another episode of Marcus Brain Dumps. I’m your host, Marcus. My last name shall forever be a secret.

I’m coming to you today in a state of unrest.  I feel uneasy because I feel like I didn’t really accomplish anything today -like today didn’t even matter. From an outside perspective, I accomplished several things:

  1. Got my blood drawn for lab tests. Kind of an accomplishment
  2. Played 90 minutes of drums
  3. Finished some extra credit for my programming class
  4. Read The 4-Hour Workweek

That’s a pretty good day I guess. But I’m upset because I didn’t do more. I should have practiced drums for 2 full hours. I should have studied for my test after finishing the extra credit. I should have gone to the gym. But I’m also having another thought: would it have really mattered if I had done all the things I was supposed to do? I guess I need to find purpose. I say that my purpose is to eventually help people. But I don’t know what that means. I also have a new thought that I need to express myself and make music or art. . . . I don’t know. I think I’m on the right path to finding purpose. My ultimate goal is to share music with people that they will enjoy. Something that gives them catharsis -like Dashboard Confessional. I’ll need to rethink the way I’m approaching music and really think about how I’m going to spend my time if I want to make the music that I want to make. I can feel myself getting excited by the thought.

But I want to do something interesting too. Funk screamo?



Howdy doody, Brain Dumpers,

I’m going to break down the success I’m having with my habits. I really haven’t been reading that much and it’s bad. I’ve probably read only like 50 pages in the past week. . . I’m supposed to read 30 minutes a day which means about 15 pages per day which means  download.jpeg

105 pages per week.  I’m less than half for the week. I want to say that I’ve had no time because I’ve been studying but that’s not true. I have time. I just waste time instead just looking at random videos. So, that’s bad. . .

I also have not been writing blog posts consistently and that’s been going on for like 2 months now. I really need to blog because it’s my chance to reflect on my progress with my life and my habits. So, I need to do that. The Internet pretty much gets in the way. I mean I LET it get in the way. I have to stop. I downloaded an app that will stop me from using certain sites for a designated period of time. It works wonders when I use it, I just dread using it so much I can’t get myself to turn it on. I guess that’s something I need to get used to. Even if I DO turn the app on, I always have my phone to distract me. . . Maybe I should just get a flip phone? But probably not, because then I can’t upload pictures of food. Something I have a good track record of doing for the past 2 years. I really can’t stop. . . it’s too much of my online presence to give up. . . Plus I want to be held accountable for the things that I eat. That was the whole of starting it. I should really be aware of the image that I’m putting out. I should only try to eat healthy food. Really. Except for 24 hours on the weekend. But yeah. . . Not doing all that well with my habits. I should really be drinking less caffeine too. But that doesn’t bother me that much

If I were to list the things that weren’t going right they would be

  • not studying consistently
  • not drumming at a consistent time
  • spending too much time surfing the internet, which is a big one
  • staying up too late
  • not reading enough
  • not going to the gym consistently

I have these reflective moments but it’s hard to do something about it. I guess it’s not actually if I were to think of way to work on these things they would be

  • not studying consistently: schedule out a time and place to study. give myself 1 dollar for every 45 minutes of studying
  • not drumming at a consistent time: schedule out a time and a place to drum. make sure that I stick to my study schedule so that I don’t need to study in place of my drumming time
  • for spending too much time on the internet: turn on the self- control app and turn on the Offtime app after I get out of the gym at night
  • staying up too late: this is solved when I stop spending time on the Internet
  • Not reading enough. This is solved when I stop spending time on the internet when I need to read
  • Not going to the gym consistently: schedule a time and place to go to the gym. make sure I stick to my study schedule so that I don’t need to study during my gym time.

So that’s what I need to do. . . it’s good talking about this stuff because it helps me think about what I need to do.

I just turned on the Self-Control all for 23 hours and 45 minutes. WordPress isn’t blocked so I can still make posts.

I’ll turn on the Offtime app too.


About to Study

Brain Dumpers, near and far,

Welcome to another episode of Marcus Brain Dumps.

I’m sitting in Taco Bell, about to study for my exam in 5 days.  I’m writing the post so I can get off my mind all the things I’m thinking about.

I’m thinking about skipping drumming so I can study more. Skipping would buy me 2 more hours of studying. I don’t want to do this, though, because my overall mission in life is to get really good at the drums. I’m never going to stop playing. My identity is too wrapped up in it and I’ve benefitted so much from it, emotionally.

I wish that I could be like the cool kids. All the cool kids, they seems to get it.


Missed Practice. Freaking out

Brain Dumpers,

I’m writing this post because I’m pissed that I missed drum practice today. I can feel myself taking it lightly and that’s not good. My whole purpose in life is to get better at drums and to contribute music to the world. That’s my destiny, Lieutenant Dan. I want to be good enough to inspire other musicians to play. Then, they make music and inspire more people to play, and on and on and on. The more art we make the more human we are. Art is the heartbeat of mankind. It’s a reflection of our health. It tells us how we’re feeling, what we’re thinking, what our  troubles are, what we have to celebrate. It also heals, soothes, exhilarates, and releases us from our troubles.  I want to make some, it sounds cool. I’m getting this curious feeling from just talking about it that I’m accomplished enough that I should relax. But I’m nowhere near good enough!!!! I’ll need another 10 years before I’m even tolerable! And then I’ll need to practice even more to build my own style.

I’ve been playing music for about ten years now. I’ve been serious about it for about five years now. I’m settled on playing the drums as my main instrument and I’ve been playing drums for a year and 8 months.

I’m making too many exceptions now and I know it. Drumming and music is my purpose and I need to pratice 2 hours per day 6 days per week for now. Soon I’ll need to pratice 4 hours per day.



Fighting Feelings of Worthlessness With Drumming

Hello you amiable aficionados of avocados,

Welcome to another Episode of Marcus Brain Dumps.

I was feeling down today about my drumming. After a year-and-a-half of 2-hour sessions on the drums 6 days a week (almost perfectly), I felt today that it had all been for naught. I felt like I was no longer impressive. And the excited anticipation of becoming better in order to show off to my friends and family left me all at once.

I felt like shit. In my woe, I absentmindedly started to drum. I immediately felt better. I think I’m starting to appreciate drumming for its own sake rather than the social benefits it creates. This is good! My ego is being stripped away and all that will be left is an appreciation for the art.

I’m still the best.