It’s Organization Sunday again, and for me, it was a rather reflective Sunday. I scribbled down a few questions for reflection and journaling, and I thought I would share them with you:
In case you can’t read my scrawl, here are the questions in digital ink:
- If I were able to spend my time doing only what I love to do, what would I be doing?
- What would it look like to go all in on what I’m doing now?
- If I don’t want to go all in, what could I change about what I’m doing now to make it something I would go all in on?
- If I can’t see myself going all in on what I’m doing now, even if I make changes to it, what else would I be doing?
Theme #1: What do You Love to do?
This is the first theme of this week’s refection.
Personally, I thought about areas I’ve developed a lot of skill and gained experience in – visual art, graphic design, web design, songwriting, guitar, bass, vocals, music production, writing, podcasting, narration, voice acting, video, social media, marketing, and so on.
Then I also thought about things I’ve either held as hobbies, activities I’ve tried in the past, or things I like to explore in my spare time – food, travel, bass fishing, skateboarding, politics, and the like.
I also thought about the results I wanted in life. As I drove by farms in the flats, I saw they had the homes and cars I wanted. But I reminded myself that farming was hard work all year long (my grandparents were farmers, so I know a little bit about that). I looked up into the hills and saw the homes of doctors and lawyers and affirmed that this also is not what I wanted for my life.
So, even with all the uncertainty of continually carving out my own path, I still found it preferable to possibilities I was considering based on the lifestyle I want for myself.
Theme #2: Going All in
This would be the second, and perhaps most predominant theme of the week.
If you are hesitant to go all in on something, why is that?
What past experiences or memories are holding you back from taking the leap (inevitably, it is always past experiences and memories that are holding us back, and because they are in the past, they are not here, and that means the concerns about the past aren’t real).
For me, I saw that going all in on something without assurance of success is what has been holding me back. And that is with the full awareness that nothing is guaranteed. So, why the stall? Better to try and to fail than to live in the purgatory of dress rehearsal the rest of my life.
Theme #3: What Else?
And the final theme for this week’s reflection is “what else?”
Absolute clarity in this area is essential. If you’re not doing what you love to do, if you’ve been struggling to go all in, if results aren’t forthcoming, or any combination thereof, what could you imagine yourself doing instead?
In this reflection, what I discovered for myself is that while there are some niches, I could see myself getting into – spirituality, personal development, entrepreneurship, self-publishing – the transition struck me as challenging and difficult.
Without going through the transition, though, the pain and challenge of transitioning is only imagined and not fully realized. And from that stance, there is nothing to fear. You’ve dealt with everything that’s come up to this point. What makes you think you can’t deal with whatever comes next?
What if you transition and find yourself in a better space than where you started? What if you finally found your niche?
And if not, could you pivot quickly out of the new niche and into another one until you found something that made you come alive?
Sunk cost can get the best of you, but don’t let it dictate your decisions. You have a new opportunity to choose with every new day you’re alive!
In an industry where charlatans and shills abound, it’s hard to let go of the couch to big screen dream and focus on the daily actions that will get you to your goals (if you’re even clear on what those goals are).
But anyone that’s trying to sell you on the idea that their $397 course is going to make you wealthy, famous, and ripped like a bronzed god is probably after the little money you don’t even have, not interested in how you get on once you get going. A real coach is always invested in your success.
Courses are great, and I’m a big believer in investing in myself.
But you need to be careful with a) who you buy from, b) lofty promises, c) placing blame (especially self-blame), and d) managing your expectations.
And so, one thing that can be helpful in bypassing the toll booth to the superhighway of shattering disappointment and empty coffers is achieving crystal clarity on what it is you want to accomplish as a musician – keeping in mind that there is no wrong path. It’s all about where you want to get to.
It could be making six-figures while making music from home. That’s a doable dream. People just like you have pursued that possibility and have made it their reality.
It could be touring the world, or signing a record contract, or just having a steady, easygoing, profitable career recording and performing in your locality. I’m not going to judge.
The thing that will stop you in accomplishing what you want in music, besides the snake oil sales, is getting too wrapped up in all the opportunity and failing to chart a course for the success you desire.
The way it works is this…
If you say that you’re a songwriter, and you’re committed to the craft of songwriting, and you start publishing songs you’ve written, you’re going to build a reputation as a songwriter. And then people are going to ask you to write songs. And you’ll start getting better jobs, and soon you’ll have a full-time career in songwriting. And then, you’re going to start getting requests for a lot of other things, like co-writes, or being a session musician, or licensing opportunities.
That’s a model that works.
The model that tends not to work is choosing to be a touring artist. But then seeing a shiny object over there. Music licensing and placements. So, you set yourself up to make beats at home. But what’s this? Mastering engineers get paid a lot of money. “I’m going to become a mastering engineer now!” But wait… these festivals look awesome. “I want to start performing at festivals.” Clubhouse! NFTs! Patreon!
And on it goes.
When you jump around like that, you don’t have the opportunity to get better at what you do, develop a reputation, find clients, get better jobs, build a full-time career, and have the wherewithal to branch out.
Too often, we branch out too early, you see. You can have your cake and eat it too, but if you don’t cultivate focus early on, no one around you will know how to support you. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. You want to be the person that when others see you, they say, “wow, they’re still going at it!?”
And that’s a matter of determination, sure, but it’s more a matter of powerful branding. You don’t always get what you ask for, but you almost never get what you don’t ask for.
For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.
Clarity can come from unexpected places.
Whether you feel stuck or unsure of your next steps, it’s important to realize that the breakthrough you need likely isn’t going to come from well-worn creative wells.
The enemies of clarity are pervasive besides.
The first is what falls under the category of addictions. Shopping, drama, video games, movies, alcohol, food, or otherwise – we all have our vices.
Addictions are an escape, and they tend to cloud our intuition, mask our true feelings, and prevent clear thinking. Because of the instant dopamine rush they provide they can lull us into a false sense of accomplishment and success, even as fires are breaking out all around us.
The second is our routine. Sustaining a routine takes discipline, and while discipline is a virtue, if you have not time enough for spontaneity, a deviation from the norm, as well as prolonged thinking, reflecting, and journaling sessions, you are unlikely to recognize what might already be in front of your nose.
Finally, there’s busyness. Temporary busyness is fine. It can even be purposeful.
When I was a graphic and web designer, we used to have “blitz” days, where we’d commit to putting the finishing touches on projects that had been sitting for a while. A blitz day could last well into the night, but of course, we’d reward ourselves with a pizza or a night at the movies for our effort.
But when busyness becomes our default, we should not be surprised to find the waters grow murky. Long-term caffeine-fueled hustles almost always end the same way, with the hustler wishing they had been more sensible in their approach. Because after exhaustion comes burnout, and burnout can be a costly, ornery, long-term companion.
No one makes good decisions at 3 AM after days, weeks, months, or even years of overwork and fatigue. There’s no clarity to be found there.
In my recent live streaming efforts, I have found more clarity than ever expected. The newness of it is exciting, but oddly, it has almost become like a visit to the shrink. A chance to express myself and to be heard without judgment (though there is no audience more judgmental than the one hiding behind digital anonymity).
There’s much one could say about that, but the point is that I see my past with greater clarity. Which helps me see the present with increased clarity as well.
Leave some space in your life for something out of the ordinary. It could be an opportunity to capture the seemingly elusive omnipresence of your calling.
With that, here’s what I created for you this week:
David Andrew Wiebe
I publish daily to inspire creatives and creators just like you.
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Music Entrepreneur HQ
At Music Entrepreneur HQ, I give modern music makers the tools and mental models they need to create the life they love through music, something I’ve been up to since 2009.
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The Indie YYC is a creative community dedicated to inspiring local artists in pursuit of independent creativity, independent thought, and independent life.
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Random Things I Dig
Live streaming, of course. And StreamYard is my poison of choice.
You were born to make music. It’s a calling.
But some days you feel like giving it all up.
You see people who are more talented and more prolific. And they have a larger social media following than you.
Why try? The odds seem stacked against you.
You don’t need to quit. You don’t need to give up. You don’t even need to change your approach.
What you need is a mindset makeover.
Read The Renegade Musician and reclaim your uniqueness, creativity, and calling.
Thank you for your creativity and generosity. I’m rooting for you.
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