This article provides 11 essential touring tips to facilitate thriving and surviving the rigors of the road. There are a lot of posts out there that have great tips for becoming a more successful musician by using things like social media, sales techniques and email marketing strategies. I wanted to take a bit of a different approach and look at getting better results by improving the foundation that those things are built on…YOU! By changing some of your unconscious habits you can become a better musician in just a matter of months.
It’s been said that your habits determine your destiny, and the more I learn, the more I realize just how much we really are creatures of habit. We like to think that we’re in control and that we’re making conscious decisions all the time. The truth is that we tend to recycle and repeat the same thoughts and emotional patterns over and over, to the point where it becomes hard to imagine ourselves operating any differently. We’re wired this way as a matter of efficiency. We integrate behaviors into our subconscious so we don’t have to think about them and so we can burn less energy. Can you imagine if you had to consciously think about every single note you played on your instrument?
With the awareness that we operate this way, we can turn our energy towards consciously creating new habits that will help us kick more ass instead of just settling for the one’s we’ve adopted by default. I’m going to outline 5 of my favorite ass-kicking habits here, but first, a few words about what it will take to implement them.
The first key is identity change.
You will always act consistently with your identity. If you try to take up a habit that would change the course of your life without changing the way that you see yourself then you’ll end up right where you started, except probably more frustrated. You have to have a vision for yourself and you have to be emotionally connected to that vision. For me, my best visualizations come at the gym when I’m practically foaming at the mouth with sweat pouring down my face listening to Metallica or Slipknot. In those moments I feel 100% clear and connected to my vision. You might be most connected to your vision while sipping tea and listening to Enya on your front porch. Do whatever it takes to really feel it, and do it often.
The second key is the understanding that it will become easier and that you will feel differently about it in the future.
It’s human nature to believe on an emotional level that we will always feel about something the way that we feel about it now. If you haven’t changed a lot of your habits in the past then you probably don’t have a lot of experience going through the cycle of emotions that you will go through. You just need to have faith and you need your logical mind to take control and to know that even though your emotions about something may be putting up resistance that they will change. In my experience, for stressful change, this seems to take about a few weeks.
The third key is intention.
So without further ado, here are my 5 habits that will make you a more successful musician:
1. Eat higher quality food
This is HUGE. Eating raw, organic food will do amazing things for your mind and body and will give you CLEAN fuel for your fire. The highest quality food is more expensive, but if you want to make massive improvements then you need to stay out of the mind-set of always shopping for things based on price and instead shopping based on value. What you put into your body is one of the highest leverage areas that you can possibly invest in. Better input = better output.
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2. Have a morning success ritual
Take a few minutes to think about what you could do for the first hour or two every day that would get you off to the best start possible. I recommend starting by drinking a glass of spring water and incorporating physical exercise, meditation or some type of mental centering, reflection on your goals and something to get you psyched up for the day ahead. What can you come up with?
3. Create an ideal environment
Your environment is a critical factor in your success. Take time regularly to examine your environment and look for ways to remove friction and distraction and to elicit focus and inspiration.
In my home office I have things that help me stay in a pleasant, clean state of mind like a plant, a water fountain and a tropical paradise desktop background on my computer. When I’m creating a website I put on headphones and listen to audio recordings that are designed to elicit a state of focus or creativity depending on what stage of the site building process I’m in. I also have scented candles that improve focus. I set a timer and work in one hour blocks. I’ve eliminated any kind of distraction that will beep at me or try to get my attention, including my phone, which is off when I’m working.
For you it might be worthwhile to find some posters or photos that inspire you to be the best guitar player, or singer, or band leader that you can be and put them up in your rehearsal room. Is there something in your environment that tends to pull you or your band mates away from having a clean, productive, focused practice? Maybe a TV or your cell phones? Start looking for those things and eliminate them or agree to not use them for the greater good of the band.
4. ABC – Always Be Constructive
It’s never useful to beat yourself up about anything. Ever. There’s always a constructive way to move forward and that’s all that matters. By focusing on your past successes and future opportunities you’ll generate more success and more opportunities. When you compare yourself to others or dwell on things that you consider failures or shortcomings you harm yourself and stand in your own way. If Bob Dylan had focused on his shortcomings as a singer and compared himself to Luciano Pavarotti then you would probably have no idea who he was because he wouldn’t have been spending his focus and energy on his strengths.
5. Invest your resources in things that will generate more resources
In my experience, it’s a very common for musicians to take the approach of throwing their money at things that they hope will get them more fans but will definitely not make them more money. Instead of taking a healthy, sustainable, approach that’s designed to increase their resources over time, they throw money at untested and poorly calculated risks that produce little or no return. I’ve definitely been guilty of this myself and it’s one of the fastest paths to burnout and frustration that I know of. So don’t spend a bunch of money on posters to give away – but T-shirts instead and sell them for a fair price. Put fuel back into your fire and grow by not only being good, but also by being smart.
Article by Scott James of The Independent Rockstar Blog.