If you’re a goal-oriented person (and what singer or musician isn’t?) then success and failure can be common bed-fellows. American culture promotes dreaming, aiming for the top, and reveres wealth and fame.  This dangerous cocktail of goals can create much misery and actually skew artists from reaching important goals.  


For instance, if one of your goals is technical mastery of your instrument, imagine how that pursuit can be sidetracked if you’re spending your practice time trying to figure out how to be the ‘next big thing’? 


Perhaps your goal is to make your living playing music.  If you can make enough to eat, have a roof and not have to hit up your family and friends for cash…might that fulfill your dream of ‘making a living’?  


Or will you feel like a failure if you can’t afford a flashy car and have a McMansion? 


Unfortunately, our culture stresses more, more, MORE. 


According to popular pressures, whatever you have can’t possibly be enough, so no matter how many goals you’ve achieved, no matter how much money you’ve made or how well-known you are, the culture can poison you into considering yourself a failure. 


My advice?  Get off the hamster-wheel.  Ask yourself what you really need to be happy and then try to resist, as best you can, the powerful cultural forces which lure you into thinking that you can never be famous, rich or thin enough, lest you be labeled a ‘loser’ with a capital L.


Ever notice how your interests change over the years?   Your tastes, what you like to eat, listen to, wear, even behave. 


Our desire for attainment, even our definition of success, can change too. Never forget that our definition of success changes as we travel through life, and that attainment is merely a game.


An alluring game, for sure, but a game nonetheless.  


If you can steer your brain off the wheel of desire to be ‘most famous, most wealthy, most loved’, then you can truly own what you are and how you can contribute.


Constantly work on untangling ‘real’ from ‘blind ambition’, knowing that even what we perceive as real changes throughout our lives.  


Keep staying in touch with the goals based in reality: health (mental and physical), good family vibes, true friends, getting your basic needs in order. 


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Everything else is playing the game, which can be great fun or a depressing grind.  Keep ‘success’ at arm’s length. Passion is great- it makes life worth living, but ‘success’, can be ephemeral.


– Lisa Popeil




Originally posted 2014-01-19 18:36:12.