This content first appeared in Episode 31 of The Music-Preneur Mindset Podcast.
Many times, in a desperate attempt to reach our goals, we keep going even when something’s not working in an effort to avoid being honest with ourselves about choosing the wrong path or needing to rest.
We carry so much shame about making mistakes and taking breaks that it ends up costing us, rather than helping us move forward. When we give ourselves permission to do what we feel in our gut is the right thing to do, however, we bring so much freedom into our lives. Here's how you can harness that power as a musician.
When we hesitate or question our ability to choose our next steps, one of three things happens:
- We become so paralyzed with fear of failing that we do nothing at all.
- We fear having to admit we changed our minds about something or were wrong about the path we’re currently on so much so that we stay on that path rather than stop, regroup, and forge a better path.
- We know we’re on the right path but we need to slow down, and the fear of missing out or being beaten there by competition that doesn’t truly exist in our reality keeps us from taking a breather and we end up burning out.
It’s 100 percent normal to fear change and talk yourself out of it. The future is unpredictable, and we don’t like what we can’t anticipate. It’s survival instinct.
If you’re looking to overcome that fear in order to get where you want to go, however, there’s one skill you need to learn to master sooner rather than later: the art of giving yourself permission.
Maybe it's ingrained in us when we're small: raise your hand before you speak, always say, "Excuse me," ask to be excused from the dinner table, etc. But, as we get older, we must learn to give ourselves permission and stop looking elsewhere for it.
- Permission to get started.
- Permission to fail.
- Permission to try again.
- Permission to walk away.
- Permission to start over.
- Permission to abandon passions or relationships that no longer serve us.
- Permission to quit.
- Permission to pull back.
- Permission to rest.
What if we just acted (whether taking action to move forward, changing course, or hitting pause) and then allowed ourselves to learn from the results of those actions?
So, how do we know when to give that permission?
How do we know when it’s time to listen to that nagging voice to do something about our situation vs. when to hold out and stay the course? It all depends on what you value most and what’s a priority for you.
What if you were an artist whose entire life's goal was to be signed to a particular label. You believed that that label was where your music belonged and that you wouldn't find “real” success until you were on their roster.
Then you meet a few artists who have been signed to that label and none of them have anything super positive to say about their time being signed there. Sure, chalk it up to disgruntled artists who had been dropped, but the allure of it all begins to shift.
In the meantime, you start taking some online courses and you realize you're able to grow quite a following yourself. You create an engaged community for your fans and they start showing up for you in a big way by buying tickets to your shows, joining your Patreon, streaming and sharing your music. You made all of that happen.
You then get approached by a rep from that label, due to all the noise your fans have been making about you online, and they want to discuss signing you.
All you’re focused on is that fact that something you worked at for so long is finally happening, right? You may even find it easy to ignore the fact that this opportunity didn't make you feel as excited as you expected it to make you feel.
You may even begin to have doubts but ignore them because you tell yourself, “I’d be stupid to turn down something I’ve focused so hard on getting.”
Now you're at a crossroads. You can grow your own team and keep the momentum you have going, maybe hire an assistant or social media manager to help grow your channels further, or you can sign with the label, even though you've heard some nightmare stories and you know you're not feeling as jazzed about it as you expected.
It’s like hearing stories of people who get divorced and they say looking back they knew on their wedding day it didn’t feel “right.” But they didn’t feel they could turn back, because everything had been paid for, the guests were seated, etc. They didn’t feel as if they had a choice.
The lesson: You always have a choice.
It’s not always an easy choice, and it may have consequences that affect others in your life, but, at the end of the day, it’s you who determines the course of your life. It takes courage and faith to be honest with yourself when your priorities change. It's up to you to give yourself that permission to choose.
At one point in time, a label mattered to you more than anything. But as you grew and learned more about your music and your following, your priorities shifted. You can only look to yourself for permission to make that shift.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves as we grow our careers is the permission to fail, the permission to be wrong. Do your best at all times to stay true to what aligns with your current values and needs while always making an effort to learn from the outcomes. Your career will grow faster the more you learn to trust in yourself.
Suzanne Paulinski is a mindset coach and founder of The Rock/Star Advocate. She helps music industry professionals gain confidence and clarity in their goals with a healthy work/life balance. Her book,The Rock/Star Life Planner is now available on Amazon.