3 Techniques to Stay Motivated During the Holidays

Welcome to Motivation Monday! This is a weekly post meant to inspire, motivate, and provide discussion on topics including artist success stories, applying science to production, the philosophy of success, and my personal experiences with making music.

Are you dreading having to respond to your family members when they ask you “So how is your music going?”

Here’s the issue - most average people just don’t understand the creative process or creative people.

So when they ask you this question, they’re usually genuinely interested. But sometimes, they’re actively trying to tease you.

And if you’ve been struggling with writers’ block, or your music isn’t where you want it to be, it can be a bit of a punch to the gut.

So how do you handle this, and how do you keep going?

Here are three techniques you can use to stay motivated during this holiday season. We’ll be diving into some psychology here. I should preface this by saying I’m not a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor, but I have done a lot of independent study into these topics.

1. Practice State Management

Psychologically, if you experience a strong urge to react emotionally and lash out when people ask you about your music, it probably comes from an unconscious (or even conscious) feeling of fear, insecurity, or being threatened.

The first step to addressing this is to acknowledge what you’re feeling in the first place. This is called “state awareness” or “state management,” and it’s an integral part of being self-aware.

If you are able to recognize your own emotions, you can choose how to respond to them. The second step is to choose your response. Even if you feel like lashing out, you can choose not to take it out on others. This is an important technique touted by authors like Steven Covey, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here is a quote from the book:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Viktor E. Frankl

Thus, the third step is to choose where to direct your energy and emotions. Instead of reacting to people emotionally, channel that frustration into your work. Attack your music with even more gusto and determination.

Feel even more inspired to create, just to spite them. Show them that yes, you CAN do this. It may sound a bit immature to do this, but it is actually a very effective, mature technique. You’ll start to see results in your music pretty fast. It's better not to react negatively when you can instead create something positive.

2. Recognize the Naysayers

In businessman Grant Cardone’s book, Be Obsessed or Be Average, he describes people who cast doubt on his dreams and ambitions as “naysayers” and “haters.”

There will always be people in your life who care about you and want the best for you, but sometimes (or often), they will express this as doubt, concern, and hesitation whenever you voice your opinion.

They could be your friend, sibling, parent, spouse, lover, teacher, or a random person on the street.

For example, let’s say you tell your Aunt: “I’m going to write an album, Aunt Jane,” and she responds with “You know, it’s a lot of work to write an album. Why are you putting in so much time? It’s really hard to get a record deal, isn’t it?”

You walk away feeling awkward, almost betrayed, like you should feel guilty that you even had that dream in the first place.

What is really happening here?

Well, let’s assume Aunt Jane isn’t a musician. In that case, she’s just voicing her concern to you. She doesn’t want to see you get hurt or feel disappointed. She thinks subconsciously that if she casts doubt onto your dreams, she’ll prevent you from experiencing the negative emotions.

But what if Aunt Jane actually is a musician? Well, then she’s probably trying to make sense of why she hasn’t succeeded in her own music. If she has submitted to record labels before and never secured a deal, then what she’s doing is expressing her jealousy and frustration through you.

In psychology, this is an emotional defense mechanism known as projection.

The key to dealing with naysayers is to recognize that their advice, while well-intentioned, is horrific.

Anyone who casts doubt on your dreams and ambitions without clear, logical, specific arguments as to why you shouldn’t pursue them is just voicing concern or projecting their own failures onto you.

Learn to recognize who the naysayers in your life are, and never let them make you question yourself.

"Learn to recognize who the naysayers in your life are, and never let them make you question yourself."

You DO deserve success, your dreams and goals CAN be achieved, and you absolutely SHOULD pursue them, regardless of what other people think.

3. Recognize the Haters

The other group of people is those who do NOT care about you.

They are the haters, the most toxic scum on the planet.

The haters are those who have never achieved anything life. They feel threatened, insecure, envious, and vengeful towards anyone who can do the things that they can’t.

So they project their hatred onto you with unrestrained vitriolic and ridiculous comments.

Do NOT let them get to you.

Understand: the haters don’t care about you. They don’t care about your work. They aren’t your target audience. They don’t deserve your attention. And more than anything, what they truly hate is themselves.

Every successful musician has had haters, so if you want to make music, you’ll have to come to terms with this.

It feels bad to have people say negative things about you, it’s true…

But the best way to deal with haters is simply not to acknowledge their existence.

"The best way to deal with haters is simply not to acknowledge their existence."

Nothing will infuriate a hater more than you ignoring them.

Don’t give them the pleasure of sinking to their level.

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