It's Okay To Press Pause

You’re on a roll. Momentum is on your side. Life is on the up and up. You’ve got gigs coming at you from both sides and you’ve got leverage. You’ve worked extremely hard for this and they want you! And now, you get to choose which gig to accept. Kudos! Don’t stop! 

Or should you? 

This is the dilemma we face as artists, in charge of our own destiny. As someone who’ve tasted success, I know how fleeting can be. When I “rested” from making music to get my feet back planted on the ground, I discovered that what I had worked hard for was suddenly gone! So, today, I’m at the crossroad of whether to pause for a moment or to just keep on going. 

Then my wife suggested we go out of town for the weekend and spend time with each other, our children and our friends. I reminded her that we only had a weekend of rest and confirmed if she really wanted to go out of town? Didn’t she want to just spend time at home? Then she said that this wasn’t for her but for me. And it wasn’t to put me back at ease physically but mentally. And she was right! 

And so I hit the pause button again. No band stuff. No music business stuff. The weekend was purely for personal stuff… the one that mattered most! I had an itinerary that consisted of “grill the ribeye steak”, “get floaties for the kiddos”, “buy chips and juice drinks for the road”, etc. 

I had so much fun being with my loved ones! I totally forgot all about the stress that went on with running a band.  And with the fun weekend behind me, I became more relaxed and open minded about how I am going to face my challenges head on. You see, the challenges that had presented themselves hadn’t changed. However, my attitude toward them did. And it did because I pressed “pause”. 

Here are 6 ways you can press the pause button of your music career. 

Disconnect From Technology 
This is very hard to do. Emails, texts, and phone calls have made it easy for other people to get a hold of us. Which is why we get anxious when someone dares us to disconnect from technology. What if the phone rings and it’s the “one” call we’ve been waiting for? There are a lot of “What ifs” in our heads that have caused us to exchange our freedom of enjoying our surroundings just for waiting for a phone call that may never even come. If it really was the “one” call you’ve been waiting on for your entire career, the person or people at the other end of the line will find a way to get to you again… and again. 

Spend Time With Family And Friends 
Artists can be self absorbed with their work. Oftentimes, I would go inside my little studio and begin to work on a project while thinking my wife and kids should understand that I’m busy creating art. News flash… they don’t think your “art” is more important than spending quality time with them. Don’t get me wrong. My family has been very supportive of my music career. However, I’ve realized that my wife and kids are simply tolerant of my passion because they LOVE me. 

I noticed that the more I spend time with my wife and kids, the more I am inspired to work on my music and I always end up being more productive. I’ve learned to put my family and my family’s needs first. Because when you put them first, they tend to follow your lead and put you first too! 

Give Thanks 
A great reason to press the pause button is to give thanks. As a Christian, I have made it a priority to give thanks to God. Mostly, in the morning while everyone is asleep. But wherever you are and whatever time it is, when you take a moment to go into a sabbatical to just reflect on how you got to where you are today, it is always good practice to give thanks. This keeps you grounded. It also redefines how much your current work or project means to you. It also relieves you of your current stress because pausing to give thanks makes you appreciate what you currently have and ignore what you currently don’t have. 

Pick Up a Sport and Actively Pursue It 
It was later in life when I decided I was gonna take basketball seriously. I suck at it! And that’s okay. I wasn’t aspiring to join the NBA anyway. But pressing the pause button on music to focus on something else that I wasn’t good at piqued my competitive edge. It also made me appreciate what I was good at and it humbled me. 

My good friend, Perf De Castro, who is one of the best guitar players of his generation, pressed the pause button on rock music for awhile. It was sad because he was very good at it. But he took a hiatus. Instead, he focused on playing with his 10 string classical guitar music and on mountain biking. He did this for awhile and had a whole lotta fun doing it. One day, after being on pause from rock music for over a year, he picked up his electric guitar again and today, he’s been gigging more than ever! And he’s having a lot of fun on a different mind and artistic level. 

Hike And Spend Time In Nature 
Get lost in the wilderness. And I don’t mean for you to take that seriously. But pause and make time to go on a hike. Invite friends or family to go with you or do this alone. When your trying to lead the charge of a band or its members. Or when you’re trying to get better with your instrument or at your craft and you feel you’re stagnating, stop for a moment and let it go. 

Camping and hiking are good ways to press the pause button. It’s a beautiful planet and a lot of new found inspiration can come out of it. 

Do Not Pick Up Your Instrument 
This seems a bit counter intuitive but allow me to talk further. When you are able to “ignore” your instrument… at will. You’ve just defined who’s in control. And when you’re in control, there is no surmounting pressure. And when you’re at this state, it becomes easy to see different ways to play your instrument. It sparks creativity. 

As a drummer, going back to the drums after ignoring it for a short period of time and messing with different drum configurations and cymbal stacks to generate a new sound, help inspired me to create a new beat, which led to me writing a new song. But I had to stop myself from picking up my instrument for a short period of time just to miss the drums a bit. 

Conclusion 
There are definitely many different things you can do to put your music career on “pause”. Should you? It depends. Maybe, not now. But at some point, I believe that we all need to take a moment to stop whatever it is we are doing so we can get back to basics. Periodically, we need to take a breather to remind ourselves why we are actually doing music in the first place. And to see if we are still aligned to our goals and dreams.

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