Have you ever been in a place where you don’t feel like you have a plan for what’s next?

I’ve been pondering this state of “no set plan” for a couple of months now. In my last blog post, I spoke about how strange it felt to not have a set direction after spending the entire year of 2018 thinking I knew exactly where I was headed and working towards that end.

The only thing that has really changed since that post is my mindset. I am now more willing to be alright with where I am.  

From time to time, there’s a little voice that pops up and says: “You don’t know where you’re going so you should be setting goals, making things happen. Hustling.”

Even though that might be great advice in some cases, I’ve come to understand something about “hustling” which is: When the hustle stems from passion, it’s fruitful. When it stems from fear or urgency to change for the sake of change, it’s not. You need a solid direction when you are hustling and it is OK to stand in place for a season and take in where you are without the compulsion to be moving and achieving.

I often look to my past to help me think about how things might play out in the future. When I do that I can say in retrospect that I’ve never really known for certain where I’m going. It feels freeing to acknowledge that. Oh, sure I’ve had plans and a rough idea of where I might like things to lead. But I’ve realized that I’m on a path that is ever changing, ever evolving, and can’t be nailed down to a rigid, calculated trajectory. Would I ever have thought I’d end up where I am now, doing what I’m doing now at this time of my life? Nope. Iowa? What the…

But when I moved here it was 1000% where my path was leading. How did I know? Nothing could keep me from it.

That feeling of surety felt like excitement and absolute confidence. At the time I didn’t know how all of the specifics would play out but I felt certain that they would fall into place. I didn’t have a job I was transferring to, I didn’t have an apartment or house rented, but the overwhelming feeling of rightness eclipsed all of that. I felt like I could work out those details as things unfolded.

Although those times of surety and big change are wonderful and satisfying, what do you do during the long stretches in between where you feel like you’re just plodding along? I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves to be constantly achieving. I’ve also noticed that we’re often so close to our everyday lives that we don’t have the perspective to notice the subtle ways in which things are changing.

When I took mental stock at the end of 2018, my initial thought was “not much happened.” But when I reflected more fully, it became clear that there were a TON of new experiences, new creative ventures and new relationships that had evolved progressively throughout the year. Since they happened a little bit at a time it was easy to overlook them and feel like I was exactly where I’d been twelve months prior, but that wasn’t the case at all. I’ve found it’s helpful to remember this during times when it feels like nothing’s happening.

Posted on February 10, 2019 .

What’s next?

So this is really more like a personal diary entry which I guess used to be the purpose for blogs? They seem to have evolved into something much more than that but I feel I need to just speak my mind without a big catchy title or theme for this one.

This past year of 2018 I found myself working on a lot of new projects. I created an online songwriting course and a number of promotional teaching tools around that. I did a weekly songwriting tips series on YouTube for almost 2 months which was a ton of fun.

As soon as that series ended I took a short trip to Orlando to stay with family. During that trip, I was thinking a lot about 'what's next.' The question was intended as a what's next in all areas of life but, as is the case for me most of the time, the question tended towards work. So I was brainstorming about what I wanted to do next with my songwriting teaching material and came up with a whole new YouTube series that I was really excited about for a couple of weeks.

I returned to Iowa with new plans, wrote a long script for a new YouTube video and then... things changed.

Not all at once, they must have changed quietly in the background when I wasn't looking, but I suddenly found myself no longer interested in what I'd been working on for the past year. I know that could still shift and I could dive into creating songwriting content once again but right now that's definitely not the case.

I had a small revelation a couple of weeks ago which was "what if I just be for a while?" I've found some freedom in NOT asking myself every day "what's next?" "what are you doing with your life?" "where are you going?" Or more bluntly "Dude you're nearly 30, shouldn't you be further along?" I was in the habit of asking those questions so often and coming up with no concrete answers. I have a tendency to think of the future a lot of the time and sometimes that's helpful, but more often than not it can become quite restrictive and burdensome.

So for right now, my plan is to have no plan. I'm having fun performing, tightening up the last few tracks for the new album and generally just taking things as they come. I'm looking forward to spending some time with family over Christmas and welcoming the new year with open arms.

If any of this sounds like you (overthinking, generally judgmental thoughts about your place in the world) then I invite you to join me on this path of no path. Just for a little while. It's amazing how freeing it feels. We can be those weirdos that AREN'T posting the #hustle #workharder posts.

I wish you all a magnificent Holiday season - talk soon.


Posted on November 26, 2018 .

Why do we write?

Over my time spent as a songwriter, I’ve thought a lot about how other people write. Do they wait until they’re inspired? Or do they treat it like a 9 to 5 job, hammering out song after song hoping for a gem along the way? I’ve also thought about what they write. Pop songs, ballads, two-parters, songs with bridges, songs with five verses (ahem - James Taylor). I’ve even spent some time thinking about where and when others write. Home studio? Out in nature? On the subway ride? 3 am in the morning? In the evenings after a long day at work? But one thing I’ve never really considered is why do people write songs? I know for me it’s a variety of different reasons but let’s analyze a few motivating factors to find out why people write.

Posted on July 23, 2018 and filed under Songwriting.