How to Focus on Your Own Musical Progress and Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

One of my favorite aspects of being a musician is all the wonderful friendships that have developed throughout my musical journey. I’m so #blessed to have met and performed with people from around the globe, and it’s so awe-inspiring to think that music is what brought us all together.

Thanks to the powers of social media, it’s easy to stay in touch with my music friends. The downside of this is that it can be all too easy to get caught up in comparing your musical progress with the progress of your friends. Musicians embark on a multitude of different paths, and there is no universal journey – so why do we constantly attempt to gauge our progress against the limited lives we see on social media? Jealousy and self-doubt are human nature, but social media has caused these and other negative emotions to spike, especially in younger generations.

Here are a few suggestions to help you focus on your own musical progress and stop comparing yourself to others:

  • Cultivate an interesting life outside the practice room. In my opinion, the best artists are those who have other hobbies, friendship groups, and interests besides music. One of my biggest musical philosophies is that our lives are reflected in our art, so experiencing new things is crucial to advancing on an artistic level. Not only will developing outside hobbies expand your musical possibilities, but it will also be a nice outlet when you’re not practicing. Sign up for classes or experiences you’ve always wanted to try and embrace new things in life. Recent classes I’ve taken (or plan to take soon) include yoga, meditation, miming (!!!), and aerial silks (after all, Montreal is the circus capital of the world!).
  • Do a social media detox. I’m not saying you have to give up social media entirely, but you should take a good, long look at how you consume it. Unfollow or hide notifications from anyone who doesn’t spark joy (thanks Marie Kondo), and find other accounts who truly inspire and motivate you.
  • Realize that every path is different. There is no pre-determined formula for success, so go ahead and toss that idea out the window right now! It can be easy to be insecure when your friends win awesome jobs and have amazing performance opportunities, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t a successful musician in your own right. There is no timeline for becoming a successful musician, and success means something different to each person, so try to limit comparisons.
  • Remember that another person’s success is not your failure. It can feel like a personal attack when someone close to you does something great – but this does not mean that you are failing. I find this reminder very helpful, but if you’re still plagued with jealousy, reach out to your job-winning, opportunity-finding friends and see if they can share any tips or advice so you can return the favor to someone else one day.
  • Reevaluate your goals. A lot of times when we compare ourselves to others, we might not even want similar versions of their successes. Take some time to revisit your goals and figure out what happiness and success mean to you. After you figure out exactly what it is you want to do, brainstorm ideas to make sure you are doing everything in your power to cultivate your skills to achieve your goals.
  • Embrace journaling. Take time every day or every week to collect your thoughts. Find a journaling style that works for you – keep a gratitude list, goal list, or anything that helps you process your emotions and sort them out so you don’t continue down the path of self-destructive or jealous thought patterns.

I hope this advice helps you on your musical journey. When all else fails, remind yourself to enjoy the journey and celebrate the micro-goals you achieve each and every day.

I’d love to know – what do you do to avoid comparing yourself to others?

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