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Home » Orchestra News » Taking a Positive Approach to Negativity

Taking a Positive Approach to Negativity

  -  Member Local 78 (Syracuse, NY)

There are a lot of gigs for AFM musicians that do pay well today. I know many musicians who are getting their share of work. However, I don’t think a week goes by where I don’t hear a musician gripe on how bad (in their mind) things can be. You know how it goes: “Club dates have dried up,” “DJs are getting the wedding biz,” and “Pay to play is rampant.” Someone wanted him or her to play for “exposure” and no one wants to pay “what they’re worth.” To those people, if that’s all they see, maybe a career change is in order. They believe it, so it must be so. Complaining doesn’t usually help. Sometimes when you complain too much, you become a prophet of your own destiny.

Here are some ways to deal with those times when you get a little down because things have gone into a momentary tilt:

  1. Minimize contact with negative people. This isn’t always completely possible, but do it as much as you can. At least do this for a short while. Some people complain as though it were an Olympic event. Keep clear of them while you are trying to get your positive outlook back.
  2. Maximize time with people that refuel your energy. You become the five or six people with whom you hang out the most. Hang out with people who make you want to “do” and “be” better than you already are. Set up some time with them. Go to events together—anything that puts positive people around you.
  3. Read/listen/watch positive things. If you are feeling down, read a positive book. Listen to a program or podcast with a positive message. Watch something that makes you laugh. Surround yourself with things you love to be influenced by. Let those things into your life as much as possible.
  4. Prioritize the things you want to do and have to do to further your music career. Make a list. The more you can get a handle on the things you need and want to do—the easier it is to tackle them.

    And above all.

  5. Don’t tell people your problems. Ninety percent of them don’t care, and 10% are glad you have them anyway.

If your motivation is low, it helps to step out of the small picture (the day-to-day) and remember the big picture (where you are going as a musician). Allow yourself to be motivated by the bigger vision, and let goals drive you. Remembering why you are a musician in the first place can help you find some new energy to keep going.

If you’re still struggling with motivation, one of my friends had a great suggestion: Let your to-do list (suggestion number four) be driven by a short-term goal: What would you like to achieve in the next week or—at most—next month, that inspires you to act today? Learning a new tune? Finding a new venue for a gig? Meeting someone who can help accelerate your career? A small “win” can be very motivating. Above all, act successful. Let people see that side of you. You’re a union musician; you’re a professional. Success breeds success. If you look and sound successful, success usually follows.

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