As a creative animal, it’s easy to judge yourself against others. We can be so cruel to ourselves. In the same way that you look at somebody else’s career or possessions or “stuff” and envy them, I promise you there’s somebody looking at what you do/have and is envying you. In our rapidly-paced, social media, bite-sized information universe, we have all unwittingly created a common enemy…ourself. Everybody posts their best image, and hopes for the likes and the instant gratification of the acknowledgment. It’s really messed up. The interesting thing about songwriting is that that instant gratification has to come from within. We have to love what we have done. Only then can we send it out into the universe hoping to get that feedback that we want. It’s so easy to get bogged down in our day-to-day ambition that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Here are five ways to find that kindness, chase those dreams, and keep it moving.
By: Justin Gray Founder/Chairman MDIIO
1. Set realistic expectations, and then exceed them - Reality can anchor your ambitions. If you can’t acknowledge reality, then it’s impossible to acknowledge the goals that you’re setting for yourself. At one point when I was going through a significant writer's block, I decided to set out the task of writing and completing 20 songs in one month. It didn’t matter if they were good or bad. It didn’t matter if they got cut or not, or even generated a single dollar. The goal was to set an expectation that I felt was realistic and achieve it. That month ended up being transformational. It allowed me to break through some of the creative obstacles that I’d unwittingly set for myself. 2. Commit to the plan - There is no shortage of brilliant ideas. There is also no shortage of brilliant songs. The ideation part is fun and easy. It’s the execution of the plan that’s very challenging. Why is it challenging? Because in truth the execution is not the fun part. So once you set the goal and identify your task, you must execute the plan. 3. Put in the work - it doesn’t matter if it takes one hour or 20 hours. Commit yourself to complete that task. Don’t abandon it. If you want to get better at producing, put in those hours in front of your computer. Explore your plug-ins. Try out new things. If you want to be a better singer, take lessons. If you want to be a better songwriter or musician, explore as much education as possible. Even if it’s YouTube University. People are literally learning how to build rocket ships but going on YouTube. Just avoid cat videos. Trust me…Don’t F*** with Cats! Your failure is the best purveyor of success. Accept failure. Embrace it. Love it! It’s failure that defines us…not success. Everyone is a genius in success…It’s failure that shapes our DNA. 4. Take breaks - It’s OK to walk away from something for a minute or an hour or even a week. Work on other things. It’s ok to have 20 different songs in various different stages of completion at any time. When you are so myopically focused on one single task, it can make the smallest gap feel like the largest chasm. How many times have you just worked on something and thought to yourself “ this is getting worse”…? The truth is it probably is! LOL. Bouncing versions of songs even in various stages of completion, helps you understand what needs to be done and what doesn’t need to be done. Go for a walk and listen…and listen and listen. 5. Run your own race - Back to our social media dilemma. It’s so easy to look at other “success” (or at least what they post), and immediately feel like crap about yourself. That’s not fair to you or to them. Everyone runs their own race at their own pace. If you are seeing people that you know having some modicum of success, congratulate them. It means you’re hanging with the right group. There are a long list of actors who only “made it” later in life. Samuel L Jackson was not a star until 1993 at the age of 44! Beloved Betty White was 51 when she got her “break” on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. To quote Led Zeppelin…”Your time is gonna come.”
I want to implore a tactic that I use in my everyday life. I have been doing it for years. Typically around my birthday, I metaphorically time travel backwards to talk to 12 months ago ME.
I say to myself…
“In the next 12 months, these things are going to happen to your career.”
“You are going to write this many songs.”
“You are going to get this many placements.”
“You are going to make this much money.”
“Does that sound good to you?”
One year ago ME, would have looked at today ME, and said wow if I can accomplish half of that I’ll be really happy. Look back on your year, transport yourself back in time, and then look forward as if perfectly predicting your own future.
How did you do?
My guess is pretty good. And if not, what changes do you need to make to become satisfied.
Put in the work and commit to yourself. Success has a way of finding you at the exact perfect time.
See you next week…and keep writing those hits!