Updated: Jun 22
Tradeoffs are an essential part of building a musical life. Being a musician requires a lot of time, focus, and effort, which means saying "no" to some things so we can instead say "yes" to music.
Here’s a quote from James Clear’s most recent “3-2-1 Thursday Newsletter” that sums it up perfectly:
Life is a series of tradeoffs, and greater results usually require greater tradeoffs.
The question is not, "Do you want to be great at this?"
The question is, "What are you willing to give up in order to be great at this?"
If you want greater returns from your musical endeavors, then you are going to have to make greater tradeoffs. This will include making tradeoffs that support the quality of your music time, like making choices to ensure you’re well rested and able to focus when you’re working on music.
In my twenty plus years as a musician, I have made countless tradeoffs. I have traded Netflix time for music listening time. I’ve traded staying up late playing video games for going to bed at a good time so I can be well rested. I’ve traded watching Youtube videos on the weekends for extra practice time, just to name a few.
It’s not that I don’t like watching Netflix, or playing video games late into the night, or watching Youtube. It’s that at the end of the day, music is what I am about, and I’m willing to let go of things I enjoy doing in exchange for more time and energy to focus on the thing I love the most.
It’s helpful to know what you’re willing to reduce or let go of completely in your life to make more room for music. The greater returns will be worth the tradeoff.