There is a beauty in committing to a path, pursuing it with all you heart and ultimately, surrendering to the uncertainty about how it all unfolds. One of the things that has helped me most in my life journey is having a path with a sense of purpose. Whenever I get down or feel a little lost, I simply reflect on my goals as they relate to life and music and I invariably find myself feeling a sense of clarity and direction about the future. Music isn’t my only passion or the only thing that gives me a sense of purpose, but it’s a big part of my life and has shaped my life and the choices I’ve made in many ways.
The great thing about committing yourself to goals with a sense of purpose is that the goals you set will help guide your life and the choices you make. It’s easy to get confused about what direction we should be moving in when we don’t have meaningful goals. There are a million different potential paths we could all take in life and if we’re not clear about what is truly important to us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by these choices. When you’re clear about who you are and what you want to accomplish, it’s much easier to make choices we feel good about when we face different forks in the road.
For example, when I chose what university I wanted to attend it was an easy choice. I knew I wanted to study music and I knew I wanted to go to Berklee College of Music. I applied and fortunately I was accepted. I only applied to two colleges, Berklee and another lesser known music school in Chicago. I chose Berklee based on their reputation and amazing staff. It was an easy choice because I was very clear on what I wanted to study and where I wanted to study.
After Berklee, I knew I wanted to perform in a band, so I made a choice to live in a college town near Chicago that I thought would be conducive to forming a band and performing in. This choice took a little more thought and consideration, but was still a relatively easy choice to make because I knew what I wanted to accomplish and simply made the best decision I could based on my circumstances at the time.
Whenever I find myself unsure about a decision that I’m making, it’s almost always because I’m somehow out of touch with my sense of purpose as it relates to that decision. When I’m really clear on my sense of purpose and path in life, decisions become easy. I simply move in the direction that seems most conducive to reaching my goals. Sometimes though, I find myself a little hazy about what it is I’m trying to do or what direction I want to go in, and during these periods I become indecisive and unsure of myself. Life doesn’t always move in a straight, linear path directly towards the realization of our goals. People and circumstances change, and so it’s important to remain flexible and open to adjusting your goals as you go.
My goals aren’t the same as they were 20 years ago, and I doubt my goals 20 years from now will be the same as they are today. Whether or not we realize all our goals, isn’t as important as having goals in the first place. Accomplishing what we set out to do is very fulfilling, but simply arriving at goals and working towards them will advance your life, whether you achieve all of them or not.
When I was twenty years old I set out to create a famous rock band. That didn’t exactly turn out the way I hoped, but by setting and working towards that goal I made new friends, met my first serious girlfriend who I dated for five years, had amazing experiences playing concerts all over the Midwestern part of the US, improved greatly as a songwriter and guitarist and ultimately got into licensing my own music. So even though I didn’t achieve the exact goal I created for myself, just by pursuing my goals I reaped a ton of rewards that I wasn’t really even going for. Pursuing goals have many byproducts that are independent of whether you achieve your goal or not.
A lot of people are reluctant to pursue their dreams because they’re not sure how things are going to turn out. Well here’s a news flash: no one is sure how things are going to turn out. Not you, not me, not even Shakira or Kanye. None of us have crystal balls and none of us know what the future is going to bring with certainty. But here’s what I do know, when you have goals and you pursue them with passion and are determined, doors will open. They might not be the exact doors you want to open, but it’s going to be a lot more interesting than just sitting on the sidelines, watching everyone else move forward while you stay in the safe little box you’ve put yourself in.