Just the other week I stopped in at a guitar shop that I don’t often go to, and I ran into my friend Carter Felker (), a bearded traditional folk & country singer/songwriter. Apparently he had been working as a sales guy at the guitar store for a couple of months.
Because I arrived at the store close to closing time, there weren’t many customers about. Carter and I were able to sit ourselves down on drum thrones and chat for an hour or so in the humid acoustic room, surrounded by expensive wood and steel.
As I strummed and plucked at the black Taylor in my hands, I talked about the fact that I was making some changes in my life. Though I enjoy music, and though I still teach and play guitar quite a bit, I’ve scaled down my involvement with music projects and bands considerably.
My goals have changed quite a bit in the last two years or so. Perhaps breaching the third decade of my life has had something to do with that, but I’ve also been carefully evaluating what I actually want out of life. If I had to sum it up, freedom of time, money and choice is what it comes down to.
Carter asserted that he was in a similar mental space. “I don’t think you have to be doing it all the time. In today’s world, music is something you can set down and pick up again at any time”, he noted.
Though I am probably the last person on this planet to undersell the importance of consistency – especially as it pertains to achieving goals – there appears to be a balancing point that some people cross.
Carter and I chatted about the importance of accepting help from others. There are people we know that seem so hell-bent on having things go their way that they are completely blind to what others may be able to do to assist them on their journey.
I think it’s a good thing to be sold out to your dreams. I certainly am. At times it may even take a seemingly fanatical commitment to see those goals come to fruition. But I’ve also noticed that there are some things that don’t seem to come to you when you have them in a chokehold.
For example, when I started cutting back on my involvement with various bands, I began to see new opportunities come into my life. I’ve been contacted by a couple of licensing & placement companies, I’ve been presented with new gig opportunities, and I’ve had three or more offers for live session work. I even appeared on TV recently.
You might suggest that it was just my hard work finally paying off. After all, I’ve been active in recording and performing for the last 12 years. But if I hadn’t let go of the projects I was involved in, would all this have happened? I don’t believe so.
I didn’t go looking for those opportunities. They were just possible avenues that opened up for me to explore. If I had tried to plan for it, it probably wouldn’t have happened.
As important as commitment and dedication is, you also need a willingness to adapt and iterate, and even let go if necessary. If your vision changes, you have to move with it instead of trying to pin it down.
Think of it this way. If you smothered your girlfriend or boyfriend with a barrage of texts, hourly phone calls and daily gifts, how likely are they to stay with you? Everyone likes attention, but they’re probably going to start freaking out if you keep it up.
Ignore a cat and it comes back to you. Let your significant other have some space and they will miss you. Water your garden periodically and it will grow. Play your instrument a little bit every day and you will get better.
Conversely, if you try to get the attention of a cat, you will chase it away. If you overwhelm your significant other, they will push away. If you water your garden too much, it will begin to die. If you play your instrument too often, you will injure yourself.
If one of your blood vessels was clogged, your heart wouldn’t be able to pump blood through it. But if the blockage was removed, your heart could do its job again.
I’m certainly not suggesting that you should do nothing in the pursuit of your dreams. I think there is a huge difference between passivity and proactive faith. Passivity is waiting for the call. Proactive faith is putting action behind your dream and doing the things that will get you the call.
Develop the sensitivity to know when it’s time to move on. The realization of your dream will always take hard work and consistency, but sometimes the format has to be shaken up. Sometimes the vision has to be expanded. Sometimes you’re on a different trail than you initially thought you were on.
And sometimes, you just have to open up. Life isn’t meant to be lived out alone. It’s meant to be lived in community. You never know what the next person you meet might bring to the table.
David Andrew Wiebe () is a musician turned blogger, podcaster, online marketer and entrepreneur. In the last 12 years, he has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, and music instruction. He’s no slouch at guitar either ().
Today, he works as an online marketer for TuneCity (), an innovative online music store concept that rewards and incentivizes its users for music purchases. Wiebe also writes on his own blog at DAWCast.com ().