Push & Pull
Doing a monthly analysis of my time & mood, I realised something very strange. The periods of time when I was stressed & anxious the most, coincided with the periods of time when I had some music work to do. Whether it was gigs or production work, I’d tend to get super stressed during these periods of time.
For context, I’ve been a professional musician for most of my life & 2 years ago decided that it wasn’t for me and ventured into the technology space. Since then, I’ve been passively involved in the music scene where I play some gigs with the bands I’ve been playing with for more than 10 years & do the odd music composition project for my director friends who don’t work with anyone else.
Thinking about why something that has been such a big part of my life & given my so much joy is now giving me stress, I realised it came down to dissonance between what I was saying & what I was doing. Ever since I’ve decided to shift from the music business, the narrative I’ve built in my head & subsequently for the outside world too is one where I’m done with music. When someone asks what I do for work, my answer has gradually shifted from “I’m a musician” to “I’m exploring something in technology” to “I’m building tech products in the health & wellbeing space”. Having internalised this dialogue, every time I have to do some music work, a little voice in my head goes off telling me that I’m wasting my time & not doing something that adds up in the longer run.
While playing gigs in fun, rehearsal & travel takes time & the dissonance in these periods just grows. It gets even worse with production projects where I’m servicing clients & questioning my reality on a daily basis.
How am I handling this? Over time, reducing the amount of music work that I say yes to because even though playing gigs & doing production work is fun, the push & pull it creates doesn’t make it worth it. I feel like I’m losing time, even though I might get the same amount of work done without doing music work. The dialogue in my head is affected by just saying yes to a part of my life that I’ve left behind & that isn’t doing my mental health any good.
Cutting ties over time is the only way forward as I seem to find more peace & joy in having time & head space for things like reading & writing, things that might help me in my path for this phase of my life. Changing careers isn’t easy & I’m still struggling with doing it right, but what I’ve learnt over the past two years:
- Your previous career will keep reaching out & trying to suck you back in. Be ruthless with your time & say No to most things.
- Say yes to a few things which have the right ROI. This doesn’t have to be just financial, but maybe joy & self esteem.
- Over time, as the stakes grow higher in your new career, this will change. Adjust accordingly.