The near-mythical power of cutting yourself some slack

slack, rest, relaxation, venting, health, mental health

Time. It’s the one thing we all want that is always fleeting and impossible to replenish. The luckiest among us realize the value of time in their teen years, but most don’t appreciate it’s true nature until some great loss occurs in the mid to late twenties. Whatever the case may be for you, it’s likely you feel your time to quote/unquote ‘make it’ in music is constantly slipping through your fingers. Every day it seems there is a new, younger hitmaker finding success. That yodeling kid from Wal-Mart went from viral fame to releasing a (really freaking good) hit single distributed by a major label in under a month — all before he’s old enough to take a driver’s education course.

Here’s the thing you have to remember: You don’t have to find success at a young age to become successful in life. There are no age restrictions on happiness. The digital age has presented new opportunities for overnight success, as has reality television, but that kind of exposure the associated success comes from chance, and you cannot rely on luck to get you through this life. At the risk of sounding pessimistic, it just doesn’t make sense. The universe cares not for your flights of fancy and the things you wish you were, nor will it ever bend over backward to assist you in the day to day struggles of being a functional human being.

So, if viral success isn’t the ideal path, then the only one that remains is the same one traveled by every person working in music today. Success in this industry is, by and large, earned through years of handwork and dedication to your craft. It’s the result of treating others well and always doing your part, regardless of whether or not others did the same. Success, for lack of a better description, is the sum of everything you’ve done over the entirety of your time in music.

With this in mind, you may think you need to work harder than ever. We’ve been conditioned to believe that any waking hour not spent working on something that helps us inch closer to our goals is time wasted. After all, someone somewhere is no doubt chasing the same dream as you or I and they’re probably working on something incredible, right? That’s what my brain tells me.

The fact of the matter is that whether you pull an all-nighter tomorrow or not isn’t nearly as important as your longterm commitment to this field. Success in music, especially the kind of success that leads to a legitimate career (with benefits, etc.), takes time. There is no way around it. There is also no rush because there is no endpoint. There will never be a day when you reach a professional peak, and the sky suddenly disappears. There will always be another thing to make, pitch, sell, or whatever it is you wish to do with your life. Always.

Do not be afraid to rest. Take the night off if you need it. Heck, unless you’re getting paid to do something feel free to take as much time as you need whenever you need it. Those who are indeed called to this industry can never stay away for long, and in time you’ll feel that passion you’ve been searching for return. This journey we are on lasts a lifetime if you want it to, but you have to take care of yourself. No one else can do that for you.

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.