I still remember the exact moment when I realized my calling.
During the summer before my last year of high school—while sitting in my room playing my guitar—I was struck by a moment of clarity:
Music is what I’m going to do with my life.
I didn’t have a specific direction in mind at the time; I simply knew music was what I was all about.
This realization has shaped the course of my whole life. Driven by a deep love of, and appreciation for, music—one which has only grown with time and experience—I have been fortunate to craft a career out of my calling. It’s the reason for who I am today, and is one of the best parts of my life.
While studying and pursuing music has been my greatest joy, the truth is I struggled with major parts of it for years.
This is because one of my greatest advantages is also one of my greatest disadvantages: I want to do everything.
Just about anything related to music has drawn my interest and stoked my desire to learn, practice, and create.
I also want to internalize everything, so I can build a strong, and deeply rooted musical foundation. If I’m going to learn something, I am going to learn it as well as I possibly can.
Both of these inclinations, while ultimately helpful, created challenges for me in my practicing, and in finding my musical identity.
I used to play a never-ending game of musical see-saw, where I was either bouncing around between too many things—leaving little time to digest what I was working on—or I was sticking with something past the point of diminishing returns.
Having no guidance for these issues, I tried desperately for years to find something that worked.
I would force myself up at 5:00am, schedule more practice material into my day than I could finish, and wouldn’t be fully present for the things I did manage to work on. I was exhausted and overwhelmed, often experiencing stretches of two or more days in a row where I had too little energy to work on music at all.
It felt like I was constantly losing a race with myself. I was discouraged about not being where I thought I should be with my guitar playing, musicianship, and artistry. I was also deeply insecure, feeling like an imposter in the world of music I loved so much.
This went on for years, leading to horrible burnout, a perpetual wrist injury, and a battered and broken relationship with music.
Without knowing there were other options, I would grit my teeth and continue following my unrealistic routine. Despite my best efforts, the results were—unsurprisingly—always the same.
Deep down, I knew what I was doing wasn’t working, and wouldn’t be sustainable in the long run. What I desperately craved was clear direction, structure, and a way to work that was both effective and healthy.
After a lot of reflection and soul searching, I realized what I wanted was a musical life.
A life where I was deeply committed and connected to music on a daily basis, while being energized, content, and completely present. Where I could retain my ambitions and meet my goals, but also achieve balance in my day-to-day life. Most of all, I simply wanted to enjoy music again.
With renewed clarity, I started building my ideal musical life from the ground up. I slowly began creating and experimenting with my own routines, and learning the habits of other musicians. I borrowed heavily from the worlds of productivity and lifestyle design, and started embracing trial and error instead of aiming for perfection. I also focused more on developing my unique voice as an artist, which is something I needed more than I had realized.
Over time, my life evolved into the one I’m living now, where everything I do supports both my musical aspirations and my well-being. I am improving faster than ever, creating consistently, and, most importantly, enjoying my time with music every day.
Though my musical life has improved considerably, it is an ongoing journey. I am always learning and trying out new ideas, approaches, systems, processes, and routines. For as many positive changes as I’ve made, I realize there will always be room for improvement. I’ve learned to embrace this as part of the fun of being a musical lifer: someone committed to having a lifelong, meaningful relationship with music. It’s not about having all the answers. Instead, it’s about being curious enough to keep asking questions.
By far the most exciting part of what I’ve learned is being able to share it with my fellow musicians. I want every one of us to be able to build the musical life we want. Where we can reach the full potential of our musicianship and artistry, without needing to sacrifice our health, happiness, and other important areas of our lives.
All it takes is the proper mindset, the right tools, and, most of all, being committed to a life with music.