Realistic Music Careers 101: It’s Never The Right Time.
COLUMN: How many times have you put off a challenge, a job, a plan or an assignment and claimed you would get to it when the time was right? We all have, but a sad fact still remains: it's never the right time and it never will be. Do it anyway, even during the tough times, you will find the endurance, the drive and the will to work under any circumstances that are occurring around you.
Right now, excuses for not working on what needs to be done is at an all time high, and it’s epidemic in the creative and entertainment fields. With fears of the shaky economy, layoffs, escalating prices and so on, putting things off has become a larger, more prevalent course of action than ever before.
A strange equation seems to come into play when people are scared, overwhelmed, intimidated or just plain tired. They justify the reasons why they are not doing the things they know they should be in exchange for shortcutting or procrastinating. These people even convince themselves that procrastination is the right it is the way it has to be and they are doing the best they can or at least they are trying.
I hate the word trying. I can't stand when people say that they are trying. I feel like the word trying is turning into more of an excuse than the actual action of trying. I don’t think people have to be perfect; I don’t think everything you attempt must work, but if you are not doing your honest best while making things a little better than the last time, you’re spinning your wheels and wasting time. And you certainly aren’t trying.
When someone tells me, â€œI'm trying,â€ I ask him or her how they are trying. I dig deeper and find out what he’s doing to complete his project or goal. What problem solving measures are in play? What improvements, no matter how small, are being seen? Usually, a great deal of them can’t answer. They are using the word trying as an excuse or they go to the blame factor of everything mentioned before from the economy to being tired and money to not having enough hours in the day and on and on and this and that.
Are they using â€œtryingâ€ as an excuse or a cover for the excuses? It seems to me that in the sentence, â€œI’m trying, but the economy sucks,â€ trying is the cover-up and the economy sucks is the excuse. The two ideas are very well intertwined, but I do not believe the real problem lies in saying, â€œI’m trying,â€ but in actually believing it.
As a society, we have allowed ourselves and each other to settle for less than what we dream, desire and truly want. We have allowed ourselves to accept that everything happening around us is way too much for any person to deal with. We have justified why things are hard and why we can’t achieve the dream and we have bought right into our own lies. The blame, the excuses and the reasons have allowed us to feel that it is okay to shortcut ourselves and dismiss our dreams.
The Right Time?
Realistically, the right time is never going to come. Money will always be an issue. Relationships will always be an issue. The problems around the music industry and every other industry will always be there or they will show their forms in many other ways that will be just as hard, if not harder. New problems will arise once old ones go away. It is not being negative; it is being honest. This is not negativity; this is life.
Barring your Mega Millions lottery ticket coming in and taking away the bulk of your stresses and your pressures or you receive the deal of the century; there will always be problems. Whether you are rich or poor, happy or sad, hard times do not discriminate, they just show their ways in different forms. This is ten times as true in the music industry or any artist-based career.
Quit yer bitchin!
Complaining does not answer or make things better. Making excuses and assigning blame does not further your career. These actions only drain energy and time that you could be using to advance your dream.
A number of years ago, I came across a great analogy in a book. The author said that the common person complaining and making excuses is like ten people standing in front of a burning house trying to figure out how the fire started instead of dousing the flames or calling the fire department. No one is trying to solve the problem at hand. Sound familiar? Kinda stupid when you look at it that way, huh?
So it is not going to get any easier and if you continue to wait for that right time, it will be years till you might realize it is just time to get underway with what you want. So why not get underway now?
We all know things are going to be hard. We are stressed out and tired. AND WE ALWAYS WILL BE! People talk about â€œstressâ€ as if it’s going to go away, like it’s this thing that only exists right now. I shake my head at them. We all have our stresses, our problems, and our fears. We know that people can use these very things against themselves and then justify why they are not doing or going after what they truly want.
Simply put, the problem solving action is buck up, step up and move forward no matter how small the steps.
This does not mean you must add extra hours to your schedule. There are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. But what if you can lay out an action plan that involves working toward your goal for only five or ten minutes a day? Most people can find ten minutes. Also note, there are approximately 14 minutes of commercials in the average hour long television show. People can find ten minutes.
Organize your goal like it is your full-time job. List the small steps, break the big things into manageable pieces. You may not be able to do it all at once and it may have to be spread out over a period of months and even years, but if you are productively and effectively making progress each day, it may inspire you more on those days when it is a little bit harder. Plus, it becomes habitual. Bonus.
Make sure the steps you take and the work you are doing is the right work and the most productive. Don't take the short cuts; they will make your work substandard. You have limited time, so use that time to do it right the first time.
If you can problem solve, create realistic, daily plans, and refuse to shortcut, you can make it happen. If you can do this work in these hard times, it will make you stronger, it will give you the endurance, the patience and the abilities to handle all sorts of difficult situations in your career.
Attention to detail is key, so pay attention to all of the small elements that make up the whole. Time management is crucial. You need to know that you are getting the most out of the limited time you have and making it as effective as possible.
Your success is founded on organization, adaption, learning and keeping sight of your goal. Put these pieces in place and be aware that the directions that lead you to your dreams may change as the industry does. Those that grasp these elements will find a faster route to what they want.
I was quoted a while back and still stand by this statement: â€œIt is going to be a harder road than you thought and short cutting will only short your career in the end. Step out, step up and step forward. If you can't take those steps, you don't belong in music or the artsâ€.
It may seem harsh. It may seem mean, but it’s true. In a world where so many have given up on their dreams and in an industry where people are shortcutting with excuses and blame that quote stands true.
If you are not doing all you can in the hardest times just like you claim you would do when it is that â€œright timeâ€, then you’re getting nowhere fast. If you are short cutting and skipping steps you know you shouldn't skip, they will catch up to you down the road. Stop making bad excuses.
Doing it the right way and in the smallest steps doesn't mean it will not be hard and it doesn't mean that success will show up fast either. Still, if you are doing your best and working through the rough times while taking the correct steps, you have a greater chance of achieving those dreams and goals. You will also stand out, because it is a rare few that are actually following through the right way, right now. Be one of them.
Watch out for Loren Weisman's book â€œThe Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Businessâ€ coming in late fall 2009. www.braingrenademusic.com