Artist developmentMusic BusinessNote from the editor

How to push through, when you lose faith in your music career

10 Tips for how to push through, when doubts creep in!

There ain´t no business like showbusiness! I guess in a way that is true! The music industry for one comes with many hurdles and uncertainties as well as constant change, due to the fast pace developments in this sector and the high competition! Nobody said it was gonna be easy, but most artists would agree, that it is worth going down that road anyway!

If you truly love what you do, there ain´t no second thoughts, right? Weeeeell…., if it weren´t for the occasional doubts and almost break-downs paired with panic attacks and thoughts like “what the heck did I think I was doing here?” and “Am I f***out of my mind?”.

If you know what I´m talking about, I can reassure you, that you are not alone with these thoughts! We all go through them. There are good days and bad ones and the following tips should help you readjust your vision, set your sails again and find the strength and motivation to push forward!

Alright, here we go with 10 killer tips for when you lose all hope.

1) Ask yourself what you would do otherwise…

A lot of times, when we get stuck in negative self-talk, existential fears and second-thoughts, it is recommendable to imagine the alternatives. Ask yourself how your life would look like, if you weren´t doing what you do. If music was not your priority and you gave up on your dreams. Maybe you picture yourself in a full time office job, or working in retail or as a teacher. Whatever it is, really picture what your life would look like over the years! What would your everyday look like, how would you feel? Would you miss something? In most cases, the answer will be “No way! I couldn´t imagine a life outside music”.

If that is the case, then congrats! You are doing exactly what you are supposed to do! And things will fall into place eventually. They always do, when you found your true calling!

2) Be nostalgic! Remember what got you started!

Another great trick is to take a sheet of paper and write down all the reasons you got started embarking in the music industry. Why did you start writing songs and why did you want this to be your occupation? Write down all your whys (and what fors) and check if your current needs and beliefs about this path are still aligned with yesterday´s vision. Remembering what you are doing it for is oftentimes a great way to stay motivated and keep going!

3) Look at how far you´ve come

Another great pen and paper exercise is to sit down and take notes on all your achievements so far! A lot of times, we do not see our progress…we are blinded by everything we still haven´t reached (like the 10 K followers on YouTube, or the Songwriting Award that´s still missing on our shelve). We tend to overlook the many successes we gain along the way!

Write down everything (every single bit) you have successfully mastered since starting out. This could include things, such as: Learning to record your demos in a DAW, improving your instrumental skills, building an artist website, the amount of songs you´ve written, the live gigs that helped you gain confidence, the friends you made etc.

Write down every tiny success and celebrate yourself! You are a work in progress, so do not focus on the end goal all the time! Spoiler alert! That too will shift, once you´ve reached it! And then what?

Go back to Number 2 and Remember what your intrinsic motivations are for all of this and then try to sit back, smile and pat yourself on the shoulder! Because: You are awesome!

4) Define your KPI for what success is to you!

Whenever you bring yourself down, what are the underlying thoughts that you take as a measurement for feeling the way you feel? For example, what makes you feel like you “failed” at something? Is it a feeling of stagnation, is it criticism from others? If so, from who? Is it a certain goal you haven´t yet reached?

In order to be fair to yourself, you should first define your goals and define what “success” is. So called “Key Performance Indicators (KPI)” help you measure your actual success, so you do not have to rely on your often inaccurate emotions and personal takes on things. Really try to be as precise as possible! For example:

  • Is being successful the case, when you have 10.000 fans?
  • Is it making a certain amount of money or living off music?
  • Is it landing a hit on the local radio or even the billboard charts?
  • Or maybe is it getting a song placed in your favorite TV show?
  • Playing a gig every week?
  • Or is your definition of success tied to a certain number of sales, fans or gigs?
  • If so, could it be more about how you contribute to people´s lives and how you feel about yourself, no matter how many people are involved at the end of the day?

Also, be honest to yourself: Is that one voice from a critic more important than the 1000 voices of your fans? What does success mean to you and which elements of it can you control yourself (e.g. by ways of working hard and sticking with it) and which are out of your control (e.g. whether people will like your music)…

Try to work on the attainable goals first and try setting your successes in those areas. Anything beyond your control is a dream, not a goal! So be easy on yourself, if those take more time to come alive!

5) Set yourself up for those successes

Once you know what you really want, make sure to plan out every step necessary to get you to where you want to be! To become a productive badass, go check our recent blogpost “From Procrastination to Productive”.

6) Develop trust, not fear

One thing that can really drag you down, are limiting beliefs and negative emotions. Mostly such emotions derive from a place of fear, where we start boiling up some anxiety and  start releasing stress hormones, that will make us feel drained and unmotivated. It is crucial to feed yourself with positive thoughts and energy, to maintain your drive and your hunger to move forward. One technique that works its magic on me, is meditating! Meditation helps you develop more awareness for what is going on in your mind. You learn to de-code the thought patterns that lead to negative emotions and bring you down and you can then learn to stop that negative cycle of thoughts and make room for positive energy. As little as 10 minutes a day is great for beginners to shift from being stressed and tired, towards feeling grateful and powerful again in no time!

7) Get a realistic picture

A lot of times we get caught up in social media lies and highlight reels and wonder why everyone seems to “make it” except ourselves? The good news is, 80% of what you see out there is fake news! 😉 We only see what people want us to see or make believe! We do not see the struggles or the sacrifices they have to make, we do not see their doubts when money to pay the rent doesn´t come in as planned, we don´t see the many times they almost quit. We only see their big stage moments, their smile over a cup of coffee and the likes! In a way that is a good thing, because why should anyone communicate bad vibes? However, if we take these outtakes for a “constant” reality, we set ourselves up for failure, because believing that life looks like this every day is just not the truth!

Be aware, that even successful artists have had / and sometimes still have side hustles or part time jobs to give them the freedom to excel in their art! There is nothing bad about this! I recommend a book called “Daily Rituals-How great minds make time, find inspiration and get to work “.

Which will make you realize how many of the greatest artists of our times had to struggle with balancing their artistic drive and their existential battles. So, relax, breathe, accept where you are at and don´t expect too much at once! You´ll get to where you need to be! Trust the process!

8) Learn to cherish the setbacks

Tell me, do you ever feel discouraged by setbacks that are blowing in your face like heavy rains? Guess what, once you understand that these setbacks are like teachers and trainers to prepare you for all the successes that are yet to come, you will find more joy in “suffering” through these struggles.

Know that the road to success may be rocky for a reason! To be able to cope with minor crisis and problems, is crucial for you to deal with the much bigger obstacles that will come once you are more successful! There will always be problems! Or, as I like to call them, challenges! They are there to help you, humble yourself, develop further and make you savor the moments, when you overcame these issues!

So, instead of whining about all the thing that happen to you (that of course are so unfair), embrace these training sessions and rise above them!

9) Be patient and keep going

Rome wasn´t built in a day darling! As much as we like to believe everything will fall into place whenever we want it, a lot of times this isn´t the case (unless you are a master manifesting genius that is;)). A lot of times it takes for us to be ready for things! To be able to accept our successes and let go of our fears. We have to grow into this new life…and like a tree that you plant, it takes a couple of seasons, some sunshine and some rain, before you find the blossoms…so, be patient, have a little faith and just keep going!

10) Final thought!

If all else fails, get lost in some corner booth in your favorite bar and order a Margarita;)

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