How to Achieve Artistic Freedom

How to Achieve Artistic Freedom

In 2016, I started working entirely from home.

And, from 2017 onward, I’ve had moments where I’ve felt semi-retired.

At no point have I felt like resting on my laurels, or like I’d fulfilled on all my goals and dreams. But I did feel as though I had achieved a modicum of freedom.

I started taking Mondays off and would get my grocery shopping done while everyone else was at work. If I woke up tired on a given day, and had no pressing deadlines, I would drive out to the mountains to enjoy a relaxing day in nature. And most nights, I would go out to enjoy local cuisine, in search of the next “hit” restaurant.

If I hadn’t taken the time to recognize the freedom available to me, though, I would not have stopped to enjoy the spoils. I would have blown past the milestone, frantically in pursuit of the next milestone or destination, never appreciating the journey.

See, whether you’re trying to grow your fan base, increase your streaming numbers, or establish yourself in a new market, no matter what stage you’re at in your career or business… You must recognize that, from day one, there are freedoms available to you. And, over time, as your career grows, you can increase those freedoms.

But if you don’t stop to enjoy what you have now, I can promise you the destination won’t be that much more satisfying or fulfilling.

In most cases, we’ll find ourselves working months, years, and even decades towards our goals, for but a few minutes, maybe a few hours, of joy and celebration. And then it will be right back to the grindstone. It’s not worth it if you’re not enjoying the journey.

How do you know when something needs to change? When you’ve been spending far too much time unhappy with where you’re at. If there’s no joy in the journey, there will only be a fleeting sense of joy at the destination, if that.

If there’s no joy in the journey, there will only be a fleeting sense of joy at the destination, if that. Share on X

Refuse to actively pursue “means to an end” projects. If you must, keep them short. You will not thrive in those environments, and the one thing you can’t get back is time.

Quick reminder – you can now get The Music Entrepreneur Code – 2022 Edition, the second edition of the best-selling guide to getting paid for your passion and impacting more fans without wasting years of your life and thousands of dollars.

A Child Sized Dream

A Child Sized Dream

What is the size of your dream?

Is it adult sized or child sized?

An adult sized dream is often one of limitation. A faint outline of a former, more exciting, limitless life. Rather than being a dream erected on childlike faith, it’s a dream built on the shaky foundations of constraints felt, challenges faced, obstacles crossed, a lifetime of being told “no,” being rejected, failing despite successful behavior, painful partings and let’s face it – imagined impediments like bad weather, wrong timing, horrible luck, God punishing you, and an elitist conspiracy to poison your health and keep you in perpetual financial debt.

An adult sized dream only becomes more reasonable, more logical, more rational with time. If you were to imagine a perfect circle, and the circle represented the size of your dream, this circle has only shrunk over time, and increasingly, your world has narrowed to the point where your dream has become about you and you alone – not about your significant other, your children, your family, your best friends, or all your adoring followers, fans, clients, customers, or audience you were once eager to – and meant to – serve and impact.

All this happens without you even noticing.

An adult sized dream, unfortunately, doesn’t hold much of a charge. Sure, it means something to us, and we still want it desperately, or at least pretend we do just to keep up appearances, but based on 1,000 yesterdays, it doesn’t even seem like a remote possibility anymore.

You’ve been crushed, deserted, betrayed, ignored, avoided, discarded, and finally, you’ve come to the point of accepting your “lot” in life.

You still have the occasional glimpse into what once was your North Star, but now it only seems to evoke a sense of guilt, shame, pain, disdain, and most frighteningly, apathy. You’ve stopped caring that you’re not living the life you once set out to live, and unfortunately, you have no one to hold responsible but yourself. You can cry at the universe, but the universe will only give you challenges to overcome on the path to self-betterment.

The adult sized dream is also exhausting. It’s complicated, difficult, intricate, confusing, frustrating. In a past life, there was all but a direct path stretching out between where you were and where you wanted to be. Now it’s become a near endless and impossible set of requirements, prerequisites, conditions, boxes that must be ticked, and hoops that must be jumped for you to enjoy the degree of success you once assumed without question.

There’s no fun in a dream like that. No point in pursuing it. No motivation to do it. No reason to rise early and give your best every day. Just a sad, desperate, quiet longing for what could have been but what you now presuppose can never be.

The adult sized dream will always see you playing small. You will always remain in the boundaries of what you consider safe, proper, right, and acceptable, and that noose will only grow tighter as you test the waters and find them too dangerous to dive into. You’ll avoid offending others, ruffling feathers, or rocking the boat like the plague.

The adult sized dream says you can only be one thing. You can be a successful business owner, but not a great spouse. A great musician, but not a star athlete. Rich but not famous. Smart but overweight. And that’s still on the innocuous side of limits. It’s entirely possible you’ve come to the point where you believe that a modest or minor success is all you can ever be.

You never thought that way as a child. None of those limitations were in play. You weren’t hindered by difficulties and challenges – you didn’t even focus on them. You knew that you could have anything you wanted if you just kept the finish line in view. You could have your luxury tower penthouse, your backyard pool with waterslide, regulation size basketball court, a garage full of Lamborghinis… whatever you could see in your mind’s eye.

As Think and Grow Rich author Napoleon Hill said:

What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

Where did your child sized dream go? Do you remember it? Do you remember how it felt to envision a future that exceeded your wildest expectations? What possibilities did you see for yourself?

Your child sized dream is still with you. It hasn’t gone anywhere. It might be covered with years of regret, doubt, and failure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dig it up, dust it off, and have another look. And maybe it doesn’t make sense to you anymore. Maybe you would make some changes to it. Maybe it’s too late for some dreams. That’s fine. But your child sized dream got more right than wrong. Because it speaks to the desires of your heart and the imprint of the divine. Your desires are uniquely yours, and you will forever care deeply about them. They are not all-inclusive. They are specific and personal.

You can live an either/or life or a both/and life. You can be led by your adult sized or child sized dream.

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085 – Overcoming Entrepreneurial Insecurity

Have you ever felt unworthy? Does it seem like others around you are accomplishing more than you are?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I explore entrepreneurial insecurity and how to re-frame your perspective.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – You are where you are
  • 00:43 – Insecurities
  • 01:07 – Stop comparing
  • 01:56 – Taking risks
  • 02:20 – Reflect on the chances you’ve taken and where you could be
  • 03:53 – The importance of staying in the moment
  • 04:54 – Your journey is uniquely yours

Transcription:

Have you ever felt like you should be further along in your music or entrepreneurial career than you are?

Have people ever said to you something along the lines of, “why do I feel like you should be more recognized and better known than you are?”

On the one hand, it’s nice to know people think so highly of you. That can be a confidence booster. On the other hand, you might begin to feel discouraged, because you aren’t sure what you did wrong. You don’t know why you aren’t “further along” than you already are.

If these thoughts go unchecked, they can become a source of stress. You may start to feel depressed about your situation, because you wish you would have accomplished more by now.

Pretty soon, you’re looking at others who’ve achieved great things, and you begin to feel insecure about where you are. I know I’ve felt this way recently and know other entrepreneurs who’ve felt it too.

You may not feel as though what you’ve accomplished so far is significant. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t. It just means you’re comparing yourself to others.  So, I want to encourage you to…

Stop Comparing

I’ve written a post on the blog about comparison being the source of all unhappiness.

Take that any way you want, but ultimately, comparison is unhealthy, because your journey is your journey. It won’t be the same as anyone else’s, even if you model your life after your heroes.

Your journey is your journey and it won't be like anyone else's. Share on X

When we compare, we are rarely fair with ourselves. We end up comparing our blunders with someone else’s highlight reel. And, a highlight reel is just that – a collection of someone’s best moments. Rest assured, they’ve made some mistakes along the way too, perhaps bigger mistakes than you’ve ever made.

I know, there are plenty of people out there who’ve accomplished amazing things, and you want to be one of those people. But it wasn’t necessarily more intelligence, more smarts, or more talent that got them to where they are. Oftentimes, it’s just that they’ve figured out a few things you haven’t.

Hard work doesn’t guarantee success. But all things being equal, someone who takes more chances will likely have a better chance at success than someone who takes fewer, wouldn’t you agree? So, let me ask – are you taking enough risks?

I know it’s tempting to compare yourself to others and what they’ve accomplished, but I would encourage you to stop thinking that way. Instead, focus on what you can do today to make progress towards your goals and dreams.

Focus on what you can do today to make progress towards your goals and dreams. Share on X

You should also take some time to…

Reflect On The Chances You’ve Taken & Think About Where You Could Be

If you’ve been a musician or entrepreneur for any length of time, you’ve probably tried your hand at a lot of things. You deserve credit for what you’ve done, regardless of what the outcome was.

If no one has ever recognized you for things you think they should have, here I am extending recognition to you right now – good job.

And, that’s the way I’ve convinced myself to look at things as well.

If everything had gone according to plan, I would probably be a millionaire by now. Who knows where I would be or what I would be doing. Maybe I would still be adding value to the world through this podcast. Maybe I would have moved on to other projects.

What matters now isn’t where I could have been. All that matters, is my determination to keep going and to do something daily that causes me to love life.

I’ve experienced many hardships in life, as I’m sure you have, and some have made me want to give up, especially recent challenges. But I didn’t give up. I just kept finding ways of reinventing myself and my approach. I’m finding it necessary to adjust my approach yet again here in 2018.

The reason I say I could have been a millionaire by now is because I’ve reflected on the chances I’ve taken. I’ve had a long-lasting music career. I’ve started many businesses, websites, blogs, and YouTube channels. I’ve invested in businesses. I’ve published quite a bit of music, many eBooks and courses, and even a full-length book. I have a second book on the way. I’ve been involved in several community projects too.

Even with all that, I have yet to break six-figures in a single year. But you know what? That doesn’t bug me. I am exactly where I need to be right now, learning the lessons I need to learn. I have a purpose to serve exactly where I am, even though I might lose sight of that fact at times.

There are things I want to achieve, people I want to meet, and places I want to go. But for whatever reason, where I am right now is an important part of my journey. And, if I don’t enjoy the journey, will I truly be fulfilled when I reach the destination? No.

As I see it, there’s no need to hurry. I’m not saying I want to prolong the journey, nor am I saying I want to take my time getting to where I want to go.

But there’s also no reason to delay gratification and enjoyment indefinitely. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I’m not going to be extravagant with my spending, because I care about my future, but some opportunities won’t come around twice. It’s one of the reasons I went to Japan when I did last November.

Life isn’t all about work. So, I’m going to be deliberate about finding something that makes me happy today. But I’m not going to apologize for being driven either. I’m going to keep pushing forward, because I believe in myself and what I’m sharing with the world.

If you’re feeling insecure right now, remember that your journey is your journey. It’s uniquely you, and no one else will have the same experiences you have. That’s what makes it worth living. You will experience some hardships along the way, and they will send you reeling. But don’t give up – your dream is worth it.

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072 – Are You Still in The Fight?

It has often been said that nothing worth having comes without a fight. Many opportunities come into our lives because the time and effort we put into pursuing our goals and dreams.

Are you making progress in your career at the rate you hoped you would be? Does your schedule reflect this? Does your spending reflect it?

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – The dangers of comfort
  • 01:23 – Am I still in the fight?
  • 02:23 – My 2018 goals may require a different kind of commitment
  • 02:35 – Evaluating how you’re doing
  • 03:14 – Are you still in the fight?

Transcription:

At some point in your career, you will reach a level of comfort. You won’t have achieved everything you’ve ever wanted, but because you’re in a much better position than you were when you started, you’ll begin to rest on your laurels even if only a little bit.

I bring this up because I’ve been guilty of getting too comfortable as well, especially in the last five months or so. There are a couple of things that shook up my life in 2017, especially during the summer. My quality of life and outlook has changed considerably as a result of these events, because I have a bit of a social life now, I’ve been investing in my health, and I’ve also been taking breaks. So, all in all, these are positive changes.

This year, not only did I leave town for a week, I also went overseas for two weeks. This was as planned, and I don’t regret taking time off, because I really needed it. But as I continue to chip away at my to-do list and evaluate my progress, in some ways I feel like I’ve been slipping a little. I must give myself some grace, because I was in full-out burnout mode before going to Japan. Since getting back, I’ve caught up with a lot of projects, and I’ve spent more time on things I care about.

But I still must ask myself one important question – am I still in the fight? Am I writing as many blog post as I could be? Am I publishing as many podcast episodes as I could be? When will I finish my next book? Could I be publishing more eBooks, courses, and books? Could I be coaching more people to reach their goals?  Am I writing, recording, and releasing music at the rate I want to be? Could I be playing more solo shows?

Am I investing in myself? Am I reading books, listening to podcasts, taking courses, and going to relevant conferences and events? If I am, am I doing enough of those things?

Am I engaged in everything I’ve committed myself to? Am I spending sufficient time on these projects, or am I just getting by? Am I spending enough time with the people I care about? Am I communicating with them? Am I fighting for relationship? Am I practicing generosity? How does my financial and business life look? What is the outlook like for my future?

As I looked at 2018 and the things I want to accomplish, I recognize my goals may require a different kind of commitment on my part. I may need to form a new routine and begin orienting my life around it. As you look to accomplish big things with your music or career in 2018, you may also want to ask yourself if you’re still in the fight. You may want to ask yourself many of the questions I just asked myself.

If you’re in the fight, you’ll be willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goals, but if you aren’t fully in the fight or at least to the extent you used to be, you may find yourself cutting corners, accomplishing less, not spending your time where it should be spent, and so on.

You may not be outside of the game, but you aren’t fully in it if you aren’t fighting. If you aren’t fully in it, your work ethic, productivity, and focus will suffer. So, I want you to ask yourself: If you aren’t fully in the fight right now, when will you be? Will you recommit to your success? Will you push yourself to new heights in the New Year? Will you stick to your goals and see your dreams become a reality?

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