Bad habits are formed most times without the consent of the one who exhibits them, they are very easy to learn and hard to let go of. Sometimes, you can’t even tell that you have a bad habit until someone hands it out to you. Bad habits sabotage your success and slows down your overall growth rate, not only in music, but also psychologically, mentally and even physical health-wise. There are bad habits that you just have to let go off as a musician, below are some of them:

1. Fear of failure

Everyone fails at one point or another, even the legendary musicians (you name them!). If they all begin to take you through their life’s journeys of failure before success, you’d realize that what you call “failure” doesn’t even compare to what they went through. What is success without failure anyways? Charles Barkley said “If you are afraid of failure, you don’t deserve to be successful” and I couldn’t agree more. As a musician, bear this in mind always: “You’ll always pass failure on your way to success” – Mickey Rooney. Failure is necessary to learn and grow from. Am I saying failure should make you happy? NO! Is it okay to feel bad or sad when you experience failure? Absolutely! But what do you do when you feel that way? Do you get up and move on or do you stay down? It’s difficult being a musician, a lot of things wouldn’t go as planned but do not let the fear of failing stop or prevent you from trying again and again and getting better until you get it right. Break out of the habit of being afraid of failure.

“Failure is good as long as it doesn’t become a habit”
– Michael Eisner.

2. Playing or practicing alone all the time

This is a bad habit that should be broken as soon as possible. Of all professions in the world, musicians tend to fall more into depression than any other category of people. Why is this so? Because every musician wants to be an “island”, most musicians like to stay indoors or be on their own all of the time, completely shutting out the rest of the world. I’m not saying you shouldn’t appreciate or enjoy your own company but learn to shuffle between enjoying being alone (this is actually very important) and enjoying being with other people. When you play or practice with other musicians, you learn more, their ideas rub off on you and you become a better player. Socializing with other like-minded people also releases you from the clutches of loneliness which may result to depression most times because there will always be people around you to talk to and open up to. As much as you love to be alone, love to be with other people too. Playing or practicing with other musicians builds your experience level too. If you’re always going solo, how then will you know how to play with a band if you’re required to?

3. Comparing yourself with others

Your success rate or progress should be measured against your own self, not against someone else’s. Comparative thinking is a self-destructive bomb. Why can’t I be as good as B.B King? Why can’t I shred like Hendrix? Why does the assistant guitarist play better chords than I do? Why am I not good enough? The habit of comparing yourself with others causes self-inflicted wounds, damages your emotional being and drives you mad with envy which only leaves you with the ability to perform lesser and lesser because instead of thinking or improving on yourself and focusing on ways to get better, you become less productive thinking about how someone else is playing better than you and why you cannot be like them. Of course, you can look into the lives of your heroes and role models and imitate their style of playing or their techniques or notes or whatever, but what you shouldn’t do is to measure your own little step-by-step successes against their big strides. You are in competition with no one but yourself. Every new step you take in your music career should be better than your previous step; measure your past against your present, not against someone else.

4. Drugs and alcohol

Sadly, our very own Jimi Hendrix lived a very short life and died as a result of this bad habit – drug abuse. Since musicians do tedious stuff, especially those that often travel around the world for gigs, they tend to resolve into drug abuse and excessive intake of alcohol. Research also shows that creatives are the ones who mostly use hard substances. I’ve been told severally that drugs and alcohol give some sort of “inspiration” but when you depend on it so much and there is none available, how then do you stay inspired or motivated? Drug abuse and excessive intake of alcohol is a bad skin that needs to be shed off; if you’ll not consider the progress of your music career, consider your health at least!

Watch this video to learn tips on how I manage to stay motivated and creative enough to make music

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5. Being too hard on yourself

You mustn’t always get it right the first time, try again, this time slowly and gradually and you’ll surely get it. Perfectionism lies at the very bosom of fear of failure; the habit of being too hard on yourself will not help you grow at all, don’t beat yourself up over everything, stop repeating and soliloquizing over your mistakes. You made mistakes during a show, so what? You cannot correctly get your solo at first trial, so what? Maintain a steady positive attitude, it makes your life easier and a lot happier – a happy life equals a better opportunity for growth.

6. Inconsistent practice methods

Get rid of this habit faster than you would get rid of a bad tooth. If you want to grow, you MUST have a consistent practice routine, you cannot be on and off however and whenever you want. Schedule feasible practice sessions and stick to it, practice consistently and make good use of your practice time. A great musician is born out of hard work and dedication; channel your hard work and dedication into your practice and you’ll become the best version of yourself you want to be. It’s okay to be tired sometimes, but don’t stay too tired for too long, deal with burnouts as soon as you can and resume with your consistent efforts towards advancing yourself and your music career.

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