If you’re not getting out of your comfort zone, you’re effectively turning down all of the amazing opportunities that exist outside of your comfort zone. This is as true for musicians as it is for anybody else.
A few months ago I had the honor of talking about comfort zones at TEDxMelbourne. After speaking to one musician at the event, I was inspired to share what I’d learnt about comfort zones with other musicians, in the hope that it might motivate some artists to get out of their comfort zone.
Why do we need to get out of our comfort zones?
Our comfort zones keep us comfortable over the short-term at the expense of limiting us from experiencing bigger things. There are a near infinite number of opportunities that exist for your band — the trouble is that many of them are out of your comfort zone – or more specifically, attaining them is out of your comfort zone.
Imagine travelling to L.A or London tomorrow. Imagine attending a music business conference and coming away having connected with over 50 music business professionals. Imagine reading 40 books on promoting your music a year, and performing stadium-size concerts.
The biggest thing preventing these things from happening are not the geographical, financial, or logistical limitations; it’s the mental limitations you’ve created. By perceiving these things as difficult, they become difficult.
These might seem overwhelming, but that’s the point. They’re overwhelming because you’re not doing them. By not doing them, musicians limit themselves from:
* Building contacts – travelling to new cities, attending conferences, and music business networking events is the easiest way to meet music industry folk. I meet hundreds of label managers, magazine editors, and music startups each year at these events. Sure, the first time you attend you’ll probably feel nervous and out of place, but that’s the same with riding a bike or going to school.
* Building their fanbase – by playing the ‘comfortable’ gig circuit, i.e. the local venues you’ve played five times over, you’re not reaching significant new audiences. Push yourself towards playing the bigger venues, with bigger artists. It’s the best way to force your band to grow in a number of ways.
* Earning a living – it’s tough to make a living as a musician when you’re gigging in front of tens of thousands of people per month, let alone a few hundred. By getting out of your comfort zone, meeting contacts, and playing bigger venues, you’ll be presented with more opportunities to earn a living as an artist as you’ll have access to larger audiences and contacts with greater opportunities.
What can you do to get out of your comfort zone?
The best thing you can do is to take action right now and set yourself a goal that scares you. Perhaps you could book five gigs today, or attend a music business conference? Whatever it is – set a tangible goal, a deadline, and just do it.
A few years ago I set myself a goal of doing this every single month – the result was I jumped 14,000ft out of an airplane, travelled across the World, and faced a number of personal fears.
These things terrified me, but in hindsight they put other challenges into perspective – so now when someone asks me if I can speak in front of 500 people, or travel to a new country alone, it seems a lot easier in comparison to skydiving!
Set yourself a goal and smash your comfort zone
A goal is defined by having both a deadline and a clearly defined, non-ambiguous, completion point. ‘Become famous’ is not an effective goal, as it’s too ambiguous as to what fame is – ‘Appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live by December 1st’ or ‘Get 10,000 Facebook Fans by December 1st’ is a good goal.
When it comes to setting and meeting a goal, here’s how I recommend approaching it:
1) Write on a piece of paper what you’re ultimately trying to achieve – e.g. build a loyal fanbase of 10,000 fans.
2) Work out a quantified mid-way goal that pushes you outside of your comfort zone and enables you to meet your larger goal – e.g. build 250 fans per month.
3) Choose a deadline, and work out what you can do every day or week leading up to that deadline to work towards your goal.
4) This one’s important – write your goal down in a journal and keep track of your progress towards it over time.
So my question and challenge to you is – what are you doing to get out of your comfort zone?
For more blog posts from Marcus, visit www.themusiciansguide.co.uk/blog