You will never be good enough for someone. Your overbearing mother, that snippy colleague, your teacher with students much better than you, maybe even yourself. At the same time, you will always be good enough for someone or for some group of people. They want what you’re working on. They support you. They want you to succeed. Work for them.
It’s simply impossible to do everything that you want to do. We have to make choices, decide on what is essential and what can wait for a rainy day. We can either deliberately choose those things or we can let our subconscious and the rest of the world make the decision for us. We just never seem to get around to that thing that’s really important. If you’re going to avoid something, consciously decide to avoid it. If you’re going to do something, make the decision to do it. Be the kind of person who mindfully and carefully selects what to do with the limited time and cognitive room we have. That important thing that you never get around to doing is probably really important.
It’s easy to underestimate the time it takes to do something. Booking hotel rooms should be easy. What’s your budget? Where? This hotel is closer to the venue but further from the airport (and the plane that lands at midnight). Eventually, you have to book a hotel room--but it might take a while to get there. Leave yourself time to make good decisions, especially for logistics and marketing.
Does your project not seem real to you? Try doing something tangible to move it forward. Planning, making spreadsheets, budgeting, building a website are vital steps, but they also don’t create something you can touch. Contact the venue or the musicians. Put money down--or do something that puts you on the hook. You’ll feel the responsibility--and the corresponding sense of realness.
Sometimes, you just have to move on from a project. It’s not working for some reason. There’s no sense in spending more time and money on something just because you’ve already spent time and money (the sunk cost fallacy). Maybe you were desperate to make it work--it’s your passion project. Think about why it’s not working. If you can find a way to move it forward, great. If you can’t, set it aside--at least for now. We can always return to our old projects with a fresh mind.
If you could do anything, what would it be? Would it be the same thing that you’re doing now? We might not be able to do what we want to the same degree if we had a ton of money or time. But we can do what we want to a lesser degree--proportional to the amount of time and money we do have. Why wait to start doing what you want?
We all have personal, social, and professional lives. Sometimes they overlap (especially in music). Difficulties in one can lead to difficulties in another just because one suddenly needs more time. When that happens, take the time that you need. If you’re going through a breakup, figure out what you need to do for that (maybe it’s to keep yourself busy with your projects). Whatever you do, handle it straight on. Be honest with yourself. If that grant rejection hurt, acknowledge that. Make adjustments. Learn from what has happened. Push yourself but stay mentally and physically healthy. Music is too hard a business to put yourself at a disadvantage by ignoring the fires of life that inevitably pop up.
Music is collaborative by nature. Typically, there is more than one musician. A composer. An audience. Without these, we can make sounds but we really can’t make music. So, don’t think you can do it alone. Invite others to join you.
Advice can be helpful. We can learn lessons from other people without having to go through the same difficulties. Sometimes, though, we end up in a cycle of asking how to do something or whether to do something. We want to get it right--after all, most of classical music training is about doing things correctly. After a while, though, you’re just wasting your time and letting the fear of failure get in your way...do something. Succeed. Or fail. At least you’ll be closer to your goal.
What do you really love? What causes that feeling in your stomach when you can’t really explain why you love something so much? Maybe you love Chopin’s nocturnes or perhaps Sibelius’ tone poems. Or you might love the feeling you get when a group sits down together or the first time a commissioned work comes off the page with real musicians.
That feeling is special and tells us a lot about ourselves--and provides a reason to keep going. If you find that you never truly love any aspect of music or working with others, then you should explore why that is. Are you too afraid to feel something or should you do something else with your life? The deepest part of yourself is trying to communicate with you through music. You should listen.