The 10 Year CommitmentWhat of commitment?

Are you serious about wanting to create the life you want through music?

I imagine that’s why you’re here…

So, here’s the thing. Staying committed isn’t exactly easy.

Dedication to your ongoing self-education is certainly helpful.

But you might need more than that when dark times arrive.

So, here are some thoughts on the 10-year commitment, what to expect on that journey, and a little bit of inspiration to help you see it through.

The Definition/Meaning of Commitment

These days, the term “commitment” gets thrown around so casually that it has just about lost its meaning.

People often “make commitments”, only to back out of them when challenges present themselves. That is not true commitment. If you’re committed only to the point of discomfort, you can’t call that true commitment.

To make a commitment means to make a promise or an agreement, as in a marriage. It’s not to be taken lightly. Because marriage isn’t always easy or simple. For the relationship to be successful, it must be nurtured continually and ongoingly, by both partners.

So, a commitment would be to see something through. It’s also one of the four pillars of success.

For example, if your goal as a musician is to grow your email list to 1,000 subscribers, you would set it in stone and make it happen at all costs.

A commitment is a powerful thing when it is actually made. Much like a “decision”, its true meaning is to “forsake all other options.”

A commitment is a powerful thing when it is actually made. Much like a “decision”, its true meaning is to “forsake all other options.” Click To Tweet

Why Commitment Matters for Musicians

Name a successful band you know, and there’s a good chance their “overnight” success was 10 years in the making.

Off the top of my head, The Beatles, Metallica, Billy Talent.

And virtually no band who’s “made it” was exempt from challenges.

Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash. Overcoming impossible odds, he learned how to drum without his missing limb.

Stevie Wonder was born blind. Ray Charles lost his sight when he was seven. They both learned to sing and play instruments.

Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley both grew up in the Depression era. Cash’s brother Jack died in a sawmill accident. They still became some of the most iconic artists of their time.

Need I go on?

I don’t know what your challenge is going to be. It could literally be anything. Or a combination of things.

What I do know is that if you want to succeed, you’ve got to give yourself a fair chance at it. And that might mean 10 years.

Issues That Challenge Commitment

This might sound surprising or scary, but in my experience, when you make a big commitment, you can be challenged in every way imaginable, and at times, you will even betray your stated values.

Here’s a relatively commonplace example from my own life.

As with most people, I’ve started and stopped workout routines multiple times. Sooner or later, they just get stale, boring, or not challenging enough.

But then I will wake up one day and go, “that’s right, I’ve only got one body, and I can either go through the pain of working out now, or default to the pain that’s going to come from age, illness, and neglect later.”

But within a couple days of getting back into a workout routine, I get sick. Then I miss an entire week because I’m lying in bed trying to recover.

Ever been there?

It’s not that my commitment was wrong, or bad, or misaligned. But I had no choice to abandon it because working out sick isn’t a great idea.

There are no major consequences to this, assuming I get back into my routine after I’ve recovered from my cold. I might get sick again, in which case I might need to take another break, but assuming I keep getting back up, I can keep going.

But it doesn’t change the fact that my commitment was tested, and when it was, I had to violate my values, even if temporarily.

Specific Musician Examples

What are the specific issues that challenge commitment? They are many and varied.

  • Metallica lead guitarist Dave Mustaine was kicked of the band and replaced by Kirk Hammett. Mustaine started his far less successful metal band, Megadeth.
  • Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain committed suicide, making it impossible for Nirvana to continue. Drummer Dave Grohl went onto form Foo Fighters.
  • Eric Clapton stole George Harrison’s wife. Clapton and The Beatles are some of the most successful artists of all time.

But do keep this in mind:

A success story that doesn’t include low moments isn’t a story at all. Nobody would watch that movie!

A success story that doesn’t include low moments isn’t a story at all. Nobody would watch that movie! Click To Tweet

What if I Don’t Have 10 Years?

I’ve been asked this question before, and the answer depends entirely on your situation.

Does it mean you’re 60 years old, sick, and don’t have long to live?

In that case, just pursue what you love. Write songs. Make recordings. Perform for friends. Make a mess. Don’t worry about the rest.

Does it mean you’re a parent, you’ve got children to raise, and you feel crunched for time?

If so, try to take advantage of whatever free time you have. It could be 15 minutes per day. Maybe 30 minutes per day. Most of us have more unallocated time in our schedule than we realize.

And while this might mean practicing or working on your music when you’re exhausted, don’t want to, or don’t feel like it, it’s not impossible to do. If you have the desire, you can make it work.

Remember – your children look up to you. Do you want to be able to practice, play music, write songs, perform, or record? Maybe you won’t have the opportunity in five or 10 years. But what about 15 or 20 years from now?

Do you want to show your kids what’s possible by taking advantage of the nooks and crannies in their schedules, or do you want to make excuses why you never pursued your passion?

I’m not saying there’s a wrong or right. What I am saying is if it’s going to be a decision, it should be a decision by design, not by default!

I don’t know what your restrictions or challenges are. But I bet there is a way for you to pursue your passion in some capacity. May as well apply your mental resources towards figuring how to make that a reality rather than committing them to your failure.

My Favorite Commitment Quote

My favorite commitment quote comes from Scottish mountaineer William Hutchison Murray, also known as W. H. Murray.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic. Begin it now.”

The 10 Year Commitment, Conclusion

Before beginning any venture of significance, ask yourself honestly:

Am I willing to put 10 years into this?

Some people do find success in their respective fields within two to five years. But even they surely encountered difficulty on that path.

There may not be anything magical about 10 years. The key is always to work hard, persist, commit to your vision, and believe fully in yourself. That’s within your control. Outcomes are not.

All things being equal, you may as well dedicate yourself to something you love – your passion.

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David Andrew Wiebe
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