One of the keys to survival as you work to secure a spot in the music industry is to be very clear on the things you won’t do and don’t do. It’s vital to have principles, ideals, and behaviors that will not be compromised regardless of how much you’re pressured, how tempting it may be to bend, or even if a potential career move is possibly delayed or even denied by standing your ground.
This isn’t meant to imply that you need to be a prude, narrow-minded, judgmental, unresponsive, snooty, or unapproachable. The goal here is to have clearly defined boundaries that remain firmly adhered to. These boundaries are set up to keep you focused on the pursuit of your career goals while maintaining healthy personal self-care. You want to be consistent and keep your integrity intact.
Belief = Value
One of the problems with a wide-open “anything goes” attitude, or expressing the willingness to do anything just to “make it,” is that not only can it put your reputation at risk, it can encourage self-destructive behaviors that will ultimately take their toll on you both personally and professionally.
Having no clear, healthy boundaries often conveys desperation and a lack of focus. It can imply that your work or craft is not to be taken seriously. It can diminish a sense of respect that you’re hoping to earn from critical contacts in the business. Sticking to your beliefs and values will ultimately convey strength.
Advance Not By Chance
A simple self-assessment will help you find key areas where you will not compromise. It will also make you aware of any issues that are potentially harmful or even dangerous that you need to evaluate further so that you can clearly take a stand for the sake of (1) positively advancing your career and (2) being able to live with your choices at the end of each day.
That is not to say that you won’t make mistakes or have some regrets; you most likely will. You’ll just have less of them, and you’ll be clear enough in your thinking and strong enough in your spirit to learn from the mistakes and regrets and proceed as you make stronger, wiser choices.
I Won’t + I Don’t = Focus
For your self-assessment write the words “I won’t/I don’t” in one column. In another column write “Consequences.” You want these to be standards by which you will press on. These standards will help you freely pursue your career and live your life with minimal negative side effects and set backs.
Your list of things you won’t or don’t engage might include eating or drinking habits before a performance, audition, or rehearsal. It can involve drug and alcohol use or abuse.
It may be issues of becoming intimate with someone because you’ve heard or you think it might open a door for you. It just might – the exit door. It might get you a gig that you’ll end up paying for because word travels to your next potential gig and so on. It can’t keep you from getting gigs because that behavior isn’t tolerated.
Get Clear On What’s Gray
The goal here is to be very clear and up front with yourself about the things you will not indulge. And you must understand the potential consequences of saying yes and saying no.
Anything that becomes a gray area for you, or where you notice you’re hedging or conflicted when you write it in the “I won’t/I don’t” column, stop and consider the consequences. In other words, if you indulge the behavior or bend the promise you’ve made to yourself, what could happen. Then, consider what could happen if you steer clear of that behavior, practice, or situation. After you weigh the potential fallout, ask yourself if it’s something you can live with. Then, make your final decision.
Generally speaking it is these gray areas that present the greatest potential for self-destructing as you spiral out of control. On the other hand, these gray areas, when resisted, present the opportunity for your greatest growth and strength of character. It works just like compression with the voice. That resistance and tension creates a powerful, impressive, dynamic, strong voice.
Frame Your Freedom
Once you complete your list, you will have essentially mapped out boundaries that will serve to protect, strengthen, clarify, refresh, and focus your pursuit and enjoyment of a career as a singer, singer-songwriter, performer, teacher, musician – whatever you choose. You’ll be much happier with yourself personally in the long run as well. Those boundaries as a whole will serve to frame your freedom.
Your list can also serve to help you craft your song sets, develop original material for songs, and even aide in a search for causes to get behind. It will help you be a better friend, a more vigilant vibrant member of your community, and will allow you to more fully appreciate all the free space in which you have to play, work, and grow without shame, guilt, worry, or self-loathing.
Setting boundaries and standing your ground will help you keep that wonder-child alive in you, that part that can approach a song with a clear heart, fresh eyes, and a grateful, creative spirit.