What is the one thing you wish you had done differently which you learned by experience?
This is an excellent question, and a very difficult one. My answer may end up sounding a bit touchy-feely for your tastes, but it’s my answer nonetheless.
I wish this: that I had asked myself “What do I want?” more often. I wish I had started asking earlier, “What EXACTLY do I want? Is THIS what I want? How close is this thing I’m doing right now to what I’ve dreamed of, hoped for?” And I wish I’d developed the courage to believe in my answers to those questions earlier on.
In other words, I wish I’d started to trust my intuition earlier.
Asking “Where am I going, and what do I really want?” is a powerful question, because it prevents you from getting swept along by others’ plans for you in the hopes that they have your best interest at heart. Not that everyone you meet is trying to con you. Not by any means. But you’re the only one who will truly know whether what you’re doing is a) what you’re made to do, b) a stepping stone on the way to getting there, or c) a completely tangential distraction. You have to keep checking in and saying to yourself, for example, “Okay, joining such-and-such group was a good decision a year ago… does it still make sense? Am I compromising my values to be a part of this? Is my heart in it? How can I put my heart in it?”
In my case, touring colleges made sense in the past as a good way to make a living as a band and begin to build a fanbase. But I ignored the voice inside that was suggesting that it was time to move on from that kind of touring. The voice, or feeling, or intuition, or whatever you want to call it kept softly persisting that, while the money was helpful, Ryan and I were actually burning ourselves out — on travel, hotels, touring, loneliness, playing “Stopless” for the 567 time — faster than we were really building a fanbase.
And burnout is not a bad thing all by itself. It happens to just about everyone at some point. The question is, what do I do with it? Will I listen to that voice, address my intuition and make a change? Or will I continue down the exact same path, seeking to please managers or booking agents or producers or fans at the cost of my soul?
You said that you seek to hone your musical talents for God’s glory, and I think that’s admirable. You may read my words and think, “He’s talking a lot about what he wants, what about what God wants?” And so my biggest piece of advice, should you choose to accept it, is to have the faith to believe that the voice of your deepest desire, your deepest intuition IS God speaking in you, to you, through you.
Listening to that intuition, even if you make mistakes (and you will), will still steer you in the right direction. And I’d say direction is more important that perfection.
So I said it would be a little touchy-feely. Stay-tuned for a much more rugged and manly entry. It will probably be about sports.