Currently, I'm working on moving from one level of entreprenuership to the next. I've worked for myself for the last 4 years, teaching guitar in Los Angeles. I love the amount of freedom that I've gained over when I worked for other people. Recently though, the realization struck me that I am still trading my time for money, even if I get to set the schedule and the price point.
No more. Over the next 6 months, I am going to focus my efforts on creating passive income for myself and directing the rest of my energy to my true passion of making music.
I've been reading a book titled “The Millionaire Fastlane” that brought me to this conclusion. It reminded me of how when I was a cocky college student, I always told my musician friends who were studying to be a psychologist or a dentist or an accountant “just in case” that “if you have an option to fall back on, you will fall back.”
I'm not as much of an arrogant jerk as when I was 21, but I still think that I was right. And I've fallen back.
So once a day for the next 6 months, I will write a page for this blog and at least two rough draft quality pages for one of my books.
As a guitar teacher, I want to see my students improve and be able to apply the concepts that I give them. But that almost always takes practice.
People talk a lot about habits, which can be a tremendous force in changing your life (for better or worse), but I feel like Wikipedia's first sentence of habit is probably the way people tend to think about the concept, and that is that "A habit is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously."
Habits are powerful because they are unconscious and occur often...permeating our lives without necessarily requiring effort or thought.
But practice is different; effective practice requires thought.
There's something incredibly daunting about putting thoughts down on paper. The point of this blog isn't just for me to talk about guitar and practice (and maybe some of my travels and other nonsense), but for me to actively practice writing. I'm using it as a daily warm-up before I write my books. I'm going to make a rule that if it takes me 5 minutes to think of a topic, I'll just write about what happened today.
Today, I had a new student who wanted to learn to play guitar for a music video...that shoots in 4 days. I occasionally get people like this, who greatly underestimate the difficulty of guitar...and its frustrating for both of us when at the end of the session, they are unhappy with what they consider to be insufficient progress.
I really try to give people what they want, and let them know when their expectations are unrealistic...but I also think people are capable of amazing things when they set their parameters very specifically and put their head down to the ground.
It's important to constantly re-evaluate what you're doing and whether it is taking you down the road you want to go.
These last few days, I've had some major opportunities come up and it forced me to re-evaluate a lot of the things I'm doing and why. Some things will need to be pushed aside for now, and a few other things I will keep doing, but for different reasons.
For example, in the short time since I started this blog, I've started auditioning for a band that I think has a lot of potential and opportunities facing them. They have a great CD, a good look, amazing presence...and a great work ethic...it doesn't get much better than that.
But I feel myself hesitating to act because my priorities and goals have changed...so not only to have to evaluate the decision, but I have to re-evaluate all the reasons I wanted to be in a band in the first place.
For years I struggled trying to get dates. Or rather, struggled with wishing I had the courage to try. I thought being more popular...being more cool (it was high school) would fix that.
I'm constantly aware of how lucky I am to have such amazing parents.
When I was younger, we didn't have a lot of money...but I remember my parents allowing me almost every opportunity I wanted to try. Between the ages of 5 and 15 I had lessons in saxophone, ice skating, gymnastics, spanish classes, various kinds of art, piano, singing, and honestly more things than I can even remember.
My father wanted me to know I could be anything I wanted to be. As a very young child, I would be asked by my conservative grandfather what I wanted to be when I grew up. The expected answer was "Preacher"...but instead I would always reply "a plumber!" (my father's implanted suggestion to annoy his own dad). My dad wouldn't let anyone influence my goals and what I thought was possible.
Today I own my business and have flexibility and freedom on a level that none of my friends do. I have played music all over the country and managed to support myself despite the many people who have discouraged me from doing it.
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I don't find writing easy. The act isn't that hard, but motivating myself to do it is pretty difficult. On the plus side, its helped me get lots of other stuff done as I create excuses to avoid it.
I refuse to let this blog join the elephant graveyard of blogs that were created, posted to for a few weeks, and then abandoned.
Part of the reason I gave myself for failure to update was practicing for an audition I had.
About a year and a half ago, the band I was part of broke up and I've been casually looking for a new project ever since. Being in a band wasn't a priority for me...I certainly didn't want to rush into something that would take a lot of my time and go nowhere again.Over the year, I have gotten emails from people that range from good-but-not-my-style to comically bad. I've been assured by many 18 year old would-be singers that they will make me "super famous" if I only write and play all the music for their "amazing" lyrics.
I've found a few guys to jam with and some good music here and there, but nothing that inspired me to spend time away from my business to pursue until about a month ago when I received an email from a band looking for a guitarist.
I've always sucked at getting up.
When I was a kid, my mom would yell my name from the kitchen while my dog howled a long (Dreeeeeeeeeeeeeeewww) until I made my way out of my bedroom and started to get ready.
While I sat bleary eyed and annoyed with the world, I promised myself that when I grew up, I wouldn't get up before noon ever again.
And I kept that promise. Until now.
Generally, it's easier to solve other people's problems.
For me, this is part of the fun of teaching. When you aren't emotionally affected by a problem, it is easier to cut through to the actions and attitudes that will lead to a solution....or at least a way of coping.
Recently, I wanted to help my girlfriend with what I think is her biggest impediment in life. She frequently leaves things unfinished. Websites, paintings, books, to-do lists, businesses, classes...the list weighs on her and I worried that its become a cycle doomed to repeat itself.
Things we do (or don't do) repeatedly become habits. Whether we mean to practice a bad habit or not, we wear the rut in our brain that subconsciously takes us down the winding road to the same dead end every time. It takes concentrated effort to break the pattern and move on to a new path.
Recently, I turned 29.
I'm usually content to let the anniversary of the day I came screaming into the world come and go without much fanfare, but this year is different.
I want this year to be the most uncomfortable year of my life.
It's a bit of a cliche at this point, but I strongly feel that the more uncomfortable you are, the more you grow. I look back on some of the worst moments of my life and they ultimately turned into some of the best experiences when I persevered through them and tried to take something from the bad situations.