Haulix Advice: Overcoming The Urge To Procrastinate

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the second week of our ongoing ‘Advice’ series on professionalism in the music business. We have been crafting this run of columns for a while and are very much looking forward to sharing the result of those efforts with all of you in the weeks ahead. If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, or if you would like to learn more information about the services offered by Haulix, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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Though we are all on our own unique journeys in this life, there is not a soul among us who finds their way into their dream career without first overcoming that little voice in their head that tells them they are not good enough or are otherwise undeserving of the achievements they seek. Steven Pressfield, author of The War On Art, describes this voice as ‘resistance,’ which by definition is anything that holds you back from doing what you are compelled to do. It’s a creativity assassin and it can take the form of many things, including procrastination, lack of motivation, insecurities, self doubt, fear, unhealthy relationships, addictions, and the like. Whatever prevents you from becoming the truest version of yourself and expressing that person to the world is your own form of resistance, and learning to overcome that force is the first step to becoming a professional in the music business.

Make no mistake: The war against resistance is a daily battle. In fact, it may even be hourly at times. Resistance strikes when you are least expecting it and cripples the part of your brain that allows your imagination to flourish. It weighs you down with stress and unnecessary distractions until you are unable to step outside your comfort zone, then drowns you in the ever-increasing mediocrity of repetition. It can be overcome however, and those who eventually become professionals in this business will find a way to conquer whatever holds them back. To quote Pressfield, “Turning pro is free, but it is not easy. You don’t need to take a course or buy a product. All you have to do is change your mind.”

We cannot prepare you to battle every form of resistance you will encounter, but we are determined to do whatever we can to aide you in furthering your creative endeavors. For the purposes of today’s post we are going to tackle one of the obstacles most often encountered whenever anyone attempts something creative: Procrastination.

Everyone battles procrastination on a daily basis. From the moment your alarm goes off in the morning procrastination is waiting, just inches from your pillow, to greet you with a million reasons you should put off doing whatever it is you want to do with your life. It can take the form of meetings, Law And Order marathons, drinks with friends, even exercise. Professionals recognize this, and they take steps in their daily lives to limit the temptations resistance can present. Here are some ways you too can actively fight procrastination:

1. Wake up every day ready to work.

This first step to overcoming procrastination is often the hardest, but it can dramatically impact the amount of resistance you will encounter over the course of any given day. The most important thing you can do for your craft is work at it, and to do that to the best of your abilities requires a daily commitment. Set time aside each day for working on your dream,whether it’s being a manager or playing lead guitar, and focus on nothing else during that time other than your goal. All things start with a first step, and for those working towards becoming a music industry professional this is the ideal place to begin. Sit down, take a deep breath, and dig in.

2. Keep at it, and realize achieving your goals may take longer than you think.

Showing up to work is one thing, but putting in the work is another conversation altogether. Nothing is more important to the continued development of your craft than sitting down each day and trying. Write something, anything at all, just sit down and put the pen to paper. Strum the guitar until your fingers are sore, pound the drums until your wrists hurt, or whatever it may be.

If you are going to become a professional you need to fully commit to the pursuit of your passion. Close all social networks and put away any piece of technology you do not need so you can allow yourself to become immersed in your passion. The more frequently you do this the easier it will become to tap into your creativity and avoid resistance. Repetition is key.

3. Be patient. Nothing happens overnight.

Professionals realize their goals require great dedication and sacrifice. They know not to expect results right away, but rather to allow themselves time to properly develop. This is not the same as being lazy however, and the two can often get confused. Professionals show up every day and do the work needed because they believe the longterm benefits of their actions will ultimately outweigh whatever hardships they have had to make. They hold tight to the hope that hard work pays off and they see their efforts through to fruition, however long that may take.

4. Learn to act in the face of fear.

Fear is the cousin of procrastination, and together these two forces of resistance can deplete any desire you may have to create. That may worry some, but it should not worry you. Fear, like self-loathing, can be a good thing. Fear tells us that what we are attempting to do matters, and by facing the unknown we are proving to ourselves we are ready to accept the challenges of being a full-time professional.

Remember the lesson we teach children: Being brave does not mean you are without fear, but rather that you are able to forge ahead in spite of it. If you can put that idea into action in your own life the distance between you and where you want to be will begin to shrink in no time.

5. Accept no excuses, especially your own.

You may think you no longer have any excuse to avoid work now that you have conquered fears, but you may want to think again.

Excuses, like resistance, comes in a variety of forms. You may think you’re not good enough, that your geographic location prevents you from doing whatever it is you desire, or that your financial limitations will somehow stunt your potential. These are all excuses and they are all a form of resistance. You must learn to resist the temptation to entertain the ideas these thoughts present. You are good enough. Location and wealth may increase the obstacles you’re presented with, yes, but they in no way prevent you from chasing after your dreams.

6. Don’t take failure or success personally.

When you’re working towards becoming a professional, every success and failure that comes your way feels like it could change the entire world. Professionals know this is not true. They recognize that success most often results from hard work. Failure, on the other hand, stems from a lack of effort.

Professionals show up every day and do the work that needs to be done whether or not they succeed or fail. They have accepted the possibility of being wrong and understand that temporary setbacks will prevent them from reaching their longterm goals. Instead, they learn from mistakes and use success to fuel their continued determination.

7. Don’t be afraid to self-validate.

You are human, and as a result you are from perfect. The journey to reaching your goals is going to be littered with setbacks and failures that make it seem like you’re not good enough, but under absolutely no circumstances should you ever allow yourself to stop believing in your own potential for greatness. Thousands of people have faced far greater opposition and found success. You can too, but it requires belief in yourself.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.