In this article, I’m going to show you how you can truly experience “music is life” and better live your life as a career musician (anyone really).

In fact, this is the exact conversation we start almost all of our music client relationships with in order to maximize happiness and energy when pursuing a music career.  

Let’s dive in!

The 2 Modes That Life Can Happen To You

For most people on the planet, life will happen in one of two ways: 

  1. Life will happen to you (passive)
  2. You will happen to life (active)

Kinda deep right?  

Personally I know people in both modes, and once you gain clarity on these two modes of life, it’s very easy to see how these modes play a primary role in the happiness and satisfaction each person experiences.

Let’s dig into each of these two modes a little more.

 

Living a Life in Passive Mode

When you live your life in passive mode, you largely leave your daily life and overall story up to fate (and fate is a terrible writer).  Life happens to you the way the world and society tells you it should:

  • You should go to school
  • You should get a job
  • You should raise a family
  • You should move up the corporate ladder
  • You should have a paycheck and a job title to define you
  • You should save money and retire at 65
  • You should stick to your daily routine

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that way of life, it’s also not a very good use of our short time on this planet.  

There was a time when we didn’t live in large settlements like cities or towns, when we had to explore to discover the world around us.  Without those who broke this kind of mold, we might still think the world was flat or we’d be reading by candlelight.  

As the late Steve Jobs’ once communicated through the famous “Think Different” campaign for Apple, “those who are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do”.  

That tagline does not refer to the majority of the population that lives in a passive mode, but again, most people find comfort in this routine, and there’s nothing wrong with those who choose it.  But to pursue a passion, a love, or a deeper sense of purpose and meaning, you have to choose to live in active mode.

 

Living a Life in Active Mode

When you live your life in active mode, you take the pen away from fate and start writing the story you want to live.  You stop caring what other people think and realize that your time on this planet is YOUR TIME, not theirs. Other people can do what they want with their time, but your time is special to you and you define how the story will unfold.

This results in a life full of meaning and purpose, full of experiences and interesting story subplots.  It’s also a life without regrets and what-ifs. 

You may have to share the pen a little with fate as you are unable to control 100% of your life, but for the most part you get to write the interesting and climatic scenes in your life’s movie.

When you decide to pursue a passion first, it’s usually said that the stability (financial and reputation) will follow second, assuming you put the blood, sweat, tears and work into it first.  Most people prefer the easier route, following the stability first and leaving the passion at home as a hobby or scrapped altogether.

At the same time, remember that choosing this life may not always produce a lot of money, but happiness and fulfillment is a much better payday.  Besides, you can’t take money with you into the next life, so it’s best to get the most out of this one.

The active mode life is not the popular route, but it’s true to you, and if done right it will produce unlimited amounts of fruit and experiences that you can share with family, friends and even strangers.  Proving an active mode of life is possible is a legacy only those who change the world can leave.

How to Build Your “Music is Life” Plan

Now that we’ve covered the two modes you can live your life in, you might be wondering how you can live more intentionally, align your personal and music career stories, and pursue the active mode of life.

As we tell the music creators we work with at Eleven, it’s best to start with YOU personally first, understanding what you want life to look like.  We don’t even focus on your music career at the beginning.

Why?

Because while music may be your career passion, it doesn’t necessarily define who YOU are.  The music is only one part of your life, and it’s important to focus on all areas of your life to ensure everything is balanced and healthy.  This includes your career, family, friends, health, and more.

Ready? Let’s go!

Do Your Personal Life Plan First

Before I jump into the abbreviated version of this life plan (so this article doesn’t become a novel), I recommend you get the overview from me here and then jump down to the bottom of this article and dig into the “Hero on a Mission” book I reference below.  All of this content is based on this book and one we recommend to all our music creators.

ONE LAST THING: this exercise is best executed using the “Hero on a Mission” workbook available at heroonamission.com.

1.) Start With Your Last Day on Earth

WHAT?! This may come as a shock when talking about a life plan, but hear me out.  Setting how old you will be when you die and subtracting your current age from it will tell you how long you have left to live. This is mean to trigger two things:

  1. It creates a sense of urgency in your mind and motivates you to get to work
  2. It ensures you cherish everything in your life and stop taking things for granted

2.) Write Your Eulogy

We all get one, but usually someone else writes it.  If you want to define your life’s story, what better way than to write the story that someone will read after you are unable to?

The point of this exercise is to write your ultimate dream life, what you want people to remember you for, and then we will reverse engineer it so you live the life you want and will be happy leaving behind.

3.) Create The 10-Year, 5-Year, and 1-Year Visions for Your Life

Now that we know the eulogy that will be read at our funeral, it’s time to take that story and build stepping stones to it.

Starting with a 10-year vision, fill out each vision worksheet as if you were living then.  So for example, fill out the 10-year vision as if you were living 10 years from now.  That is the current state of things in your life.  Do the same for your 5 and 1-year visions.

4.) Create 3 Goals For Your First Year

Once you have your vision worksheets completed, review the 1-year worksheet and use the goal worksheet (3 copies of it) to select 3 goals you want to achieve in the next year.  As humans, our brains can only clearly process 3 major objectives at a time, so as you complete each goal, make a plan to replace it with another goal from your 1-year worksheet.

5.) Use the Daily Planner to Drive Your Goals & Vision

Now it’s time to create your morning routine.  Each morning, set aside 5-10 minutes to fill out your daily planner sheet.  Your 3 primary tasks for the day should center around making progress on those goals you set in the previous step.

By starting top level (eulogy) and reverse engineering your life down to your daily routine, you’ll be able to work forward on a predefined path that has a much better chance of creating the life you want and effectively changing your life to active mode.

Do Your Music Business Plan & Mission Second

Now that your personal life plan is completed, it’s time to turn your attention to the mission your music business is going to be on.

Again, we will just focus on the abbreviated version for this article, but you can learn more in our “Musician on a Mission” article, in the “Mission Statement Made Simple” course, or the book “Business Made Simple”, both which are owned by the same company behind “Hero on a Mission”.

1.) Start With a Good Mission Statement

To stay focused, keep your compass pointing in a clear direction, and to unite and motivate whatever artist team you may eventually have, it’s important to know how to write a mission statement that is short, interesting, and memorable.

You can learn more using the links above, but here’s a short template you can use to draft an initial mission statement:

“We will accomplish ______________ by ______________ because of ______________.”

2.) Define Key Characteristics

Key characteristics are the characteristics you and your team will need to develop in order to accomplish your mission and transform along the way.

The mission you defined is meant to invite you and your team into a story, and in stories, characters change and become better versions of themselves.  By defining the characteristics you’ll want to work toward developing, you’ll start to embody the traits and personalities of the future versions of you.

Examples of key characteristics may include being positive, being creative, being increasingly dedicated, being passionate, or being profit-minded.

The “Mission Statement Made Simple” course and “Business Made Simple” book go deeper on this, but it’s something you’ll want to start to think about.

3.) Determine Critical Actions

In order to achieve any mission or long term goal, it’s important to define things you might try and do every day that will help move you and your business closer to that destination.

Critical actions are 3 repeatable actions that every person in your team or business can take that will contribute to the mission on a daily basis.  

Examples of this might be “We smile at our fans”, “We learn something from every tour stop”, or “We ensure our gear is clean and in working order”.  They are meant to be simple things we can bake into our existing daily routine to ensure our mission is accessible.

4.) Tell a Great Story

It’s imperative to attract the right fans to your music and the experience you provide by telling your story, but most businesses in the world don’t know how to tell their story.  They make the mistake of telling their history, which isn’t as captivating and can bore a customer or fan.

Your story should explain what you do in a way that engages fans and makes them want to join you and follow your mission as an artist.

5.) Define Your Theme and Your “Why”

The last thing you want to define is the theme of your mission so you and your team will know why your music and experience is important.  Your theme is your music’s “why” or reason for being.

An example of a theme in music may be “because nobody should suffer from lack of energy” (dance music) or “because everyone deserves to be taken someplace through song” (singer-songwriter).

Once your Music Mission is completed, you can now hone in on the career portion of your vision worksheets and daily planner and see how they align.  This is important because the Music Mission is basically going to be the bigger strategy for the career section of your life plan.  

If you’re feeling super ambitious, it may make sense to do the business mission process again for each of the sections on your vision worksheets.  That way all areas of your life are on an extremely meaningful mission!

Recommended Reading For Your “Music is Life” Plan

The content in this article is derived from “Hero on a Mission” by Donald Miller, one of the few books we recommend to all of the music creators we work with.  This book has been life changing for our team, and we think it is quite possibly the single most important part of pursuing a lifelong career in music (or anything).  Whether you work with us or not, we highly recommend taking the time to read this book, create the life plan it builds, and use the daily planner it provides.

Other resources we reference throughout this article include:

8 Ways a Music Career Coach can help you become a more successful music creator

Music Career Coaching Guide: 8 Ways a Coach Can Help You Become a More Successful Music Creator

This guide shares eight ways hiring a coach can make you a more successful, profitable, and full-time music creator.

When you understand how a music career coach can get you farther, faster, you’ll be ahead of other music creators attempting to grow their music career.

DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE

Music Career Coaching Guide: 8 Ways a Coach Can Help You Become a More Successful Music Creator

This guide shares eight ways hiring a coach can make you a more successful, profitable, and full-time music creator.

When you understand how a music career coach can get you farther, faster, you’ll be ahead of other music creators attempting to grow their music career.

DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE
8 Ways a Music Career Coach can help you become a more successful music creator