Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is It Worth It...

Another question...this one came via Twitter from Ryan. I play in a rock group, Lovers and Liars and Ryan had been asking some questions about alot of things...Did we have an agent or manager? Did we like them?...alot of general questions about "Band stuff"...and then he sent me these next couple of questions that really made me sit back at my desk and wonder...

Is all of it worth it? The long road trips, all the money that gets spent, all the hard work? Cuz I mean that is what I want. Life in music. do you answer that? Is a career in real estate worth it? What about a management career at a local restaurant? Or a teaching position at an elementary school?

I guess the idea of something being "worth it" depends on what your goals are, what your definition of success in that particular field is, what your driving motivations are...Are you looking for fame? Fortune? Notoriety? A comfortable living? The house in the suburbs with a couple of kids and a two car garage?

I think that if you apply these questions to life in general and not just to life in music you'll begin to see the bigger picture.

Whatever career field you pick, whatever life you design for have to set some clear goals...some markers that in fact let you know if something is worth it...and if you don't hit those markers by a certain point, maybe it isn't worth it.

A few years ago I quit playing "full time" ...whatever that means...and took on personal training, as well as continuing to take the gigs that I wanted to play...but only the ones that I wanted. You see, I had gotten to a point that the direction my music career was headed wasn't worth it to me. I had played professionally for 7 or 8 years, had a college degree, was well respected by my peers, had a wonderful wife and a baby on the way....but i was MISERABLE with the gigs i was having to take on to keep the ship afloat. I prayed daily that I would wake up the next morning and HATE the drums...just so I could have some peace of mind...some confirmation that I needed to move into another field of work. But the love stayed, and so the drive inside of me stayed, and so I had to find a way to make it work.

I know I every field you have to do some work that you don't care for...problem was, most of the work i was doing sucked. i hated it. So I decided to change other words, my dreams weren't worth it if that was the path I had to take to achieve them...*GASP, HORROR, SOBS, CRIES OF AGONY*...You mean give up on your dreams?! That's not what I said...but if you're beating a dead duck, chances are that's not going to make it fly.

If you have a career in music, more times than not it will require some travel. If you're single, no biggie...if you're newly married and she understands what you do, no biggie...if you have a kid...well, things start to look differently. you start to evaluate just how much time you're having to spend out of much am I getting paid for this? And how long are we gone? And why did I miss my son's first steps for this?

And if you have any type of career, especially if you start your own business venture, you're going to have to invest some biggie if you're single, it's your money to spend. No biggie if you're newly married and she understands things, it's ya'lls money to spend...but when the kid comes and there's a family involved...again, things just begin to look differently.

The point I'm trying to make is that at sometime you're going to re-evaluate what it is you're trying to accomplish and you're going to have to ask the same questions that Ryan was asking me...Is it worth it? All of the time, the money, the hard work? Is the end result worth all that you've invested?

So here's the criteria I judge my career with or leave it, it's just what I've come up with to help me make sure my life stays in some sort of manageable balance...

1) Is the monetary compensation enough for my family and I to comfortably live on?
2) Do I have the ability to say "No" to a gig?
3) Am I the one that gets a say so in when, where, and how much I get paid when I play?
4) Am I in enough control of my schedule that I can slot off times for family without interfering with any work or putting us in the poorhouse?
5) Do I like what I'm doing?
6) Does it look like the picture in my mind?
7) Is it allowing full use of my talents?

These are just a sample list...different situations sometimes have different questions, but these seem to be the core values that resonate with me in any given situation.

And about hard work...If you're working hard at something, it needs to be worth it. Anything I do I put 110% into it...painting my studio, practicing, training my clients, recording, playing a show with my name it and I'm going to try to give it my all...otherwise, why are you there.

For years I didn't ask the right questions...and I regretted now I always ask.

And yea, Ryan, it's worth it....if it looks like the picture I have in my mind (which it is more and more everyday) then yes, it's worth every bead of sweat, every penny invested, and every minute you're on the road.

Don't know if that's an answer, but it'll have to do...


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