15 – Progress and Happiness

I believe that progress and happiness are intrinsically linked. People like to feel as though they’re making progress, and that sense of achievement makes you feel happy. This may not be the case for everyone, but I’m willing to bet you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about. Ever wonder why almost every video game and mobile app has a scoring or achievement system? It’s because the sense of progress you get from these keeps you hooked, and that’s why it’s so easy to sink hours into phone games that amount to little more than clicking a button on a screen again and again (I’m looking at you, Egg Inc). I’ve recognised this in myself, and now I try to get my milestone-reaching kicks in other ways.

When I was a kid, the fantastical notion that “I could do anything if I set my mind to it” became thoroughly ingrained within me, and that’s why I try my hand at everything from music making and novel writing, to board and video game designing. That sense of achievement that I crave is most attainable at the beginning of a new project, where milestones come thick and fast. Once you get past that stage, though, you’ll need to put in some work to progress. Often, you’ll need to study and learn, other times, you might just need to put the hours in, but the juice will be worth the squeeze.

Never has this been more obvious to me than when I started a new job in June last year. I went from being a planner working on Excel for eight hours a day, to being a marketing executive for a company which, so far, has had me setting up events in Germany and Russia, producing all manner of marketing materials, working with the press, and lots more. The learning curve was steep! The experience I had marketing my music helped, but this new job needed a LOT more. So, in order to help myself survive in the deep end, I dove even deeper and enrolled in a level 6 CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) course. The company I work for was kind enough to sponsor it too, for which I’m very grateful.

It was a lot to take in at first, but I felt that sense of achievement every time I finished a section of each assignment, and again when I handed those assignments in for feedback. I just handed in my final assignment, and the sense of achievement (and relief – I get my Monday nights back!) was palpable. Yes, it was hard work, and some of it was frustrating, but it’s already proven worth it. Not only has handing the assignment in made me feel happier, but I’m now feeling a lot more confident about all of my other projects. Now that I’ve got a solid marketing foundation, I feel better prepared to take my music, writing, and game designing to the next level. It’s given me a new confidence, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else this helps me achieve.

Do you feel the same? Where do you get your sense of achievement?

Have a productive day.

Will

07 – A Bucket-Load of Confidence

For the last few years, my music has graced various stages. I’ve played in all sorts of places, from quiet pubs in dingy parts of sleepy towns, to bustling festivals in busy city centres, and it’s been great! Sure, I’ve had a few bad gigs here and there, but the fantastic ones more than make up for them. Recently, however, my confidence has taken a knock, and I’m not entirely sure why. Something’s got me second guessing chord changes, and overthinking the lines I’m about to sing to the point where I almost forget them. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been dedicating so much time to editing In The Black Blood that I’ve not been practicing enough. Maybe it’s that I’ve started a new job and learning the ropes it taking up the rest of my time. Or maybe it’s because I’ve had writers’ block for a while and the lack of new material is getting me down.

I don’t know for sure.

07 - A heap of confidence

Despite not knowing the exact cause, I decided last week that enough was enough. I was going to break this spell of low confidence the only way I know how, by playing gigs. Without wasting any time, I took myself to an open mic night at the Thomas A Beckett pub, to play music alongside Rhys Gradwell, Kirsty Crawford, and Sam Stopps. That old adage of “fake it until you make it” really is a good one. I went on stage convinced that I was going to be confident, and as a result my set went incredibly well. The following night, I made the last minute decision to head to the new open mic at O’Neill’s in Northampton, where again, my set went well. On both nights I even managed to sell a few CDs.

Bolstered by my mid-week success, I headed to a small festival on Saturday, Read-ing Fest (hyphen intentional). It was a glorious day, the sun was shining, and I took to the stage in front of a smattering of festival-goers. It went well!

If doing three gigs in one week has gone this far towards restoring my confidence, think what the performances I’ve got lined up over the next month will do to help! What’s more, I’ve found that getting out and playing has got my creative juices flowing again. Lyrics have been popping into my head all week, and I can’t wait to see how the next month goes.

Have a productive day.

Points Earned:

Read-ing Festival +15
Rushfest +15
Added ITBB compendium entries +5
Songwriting session with Tom +5
Work on the Super Secret Project +5
Blog post +2

Total Points +128