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๐Ÿค” How to Decide if Composing Full-Time is Worth It

๐Ÿง  mindset Feb 06, 2024

A few weeks back, an old friend and colleague of mine reached out in response to my newsletter to ask about a career pivot he’s been considering.

(He’s probably reading this one, too—hope you don’t mind me sharing!)

From my understanding, he composes mostly for pleasure at the moment, but has thought about giving it a go full-time.

When reaching out, he asked me for my honest thoughts:

“Is it worth it to be a composer? If you had to start late in the game right now, would you start the grind over?”

Honestly, for a while I was stumped.

I’ve walked this career path for so long that it’s hard for me to even think of what I would’ve done instead. I never had a Plan B.

But I recognize that that’s not true for everyone.

For many, pursuing a composing career starts off as a small seed in the brain—a little idea that grows over time, until the “what ifs” and exciting imagined future state becomes too difficult to ignore.

But with it comes a TON of risk, uncertainty, and doubt.

So what makes composing “worth pursuing”?

I’ve been recently reading Ali Abdaal’s new book, “Feel Good Productivity”—a book all about how motivation isn’t guided by our conventional ideas of forced discipline, but rather by positive feelings brought on by our mindset and daily choices.

In it, Ali mentions the differences in power between intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators:

“Intrinsic motivation comes from the inside: driven by self-fulfillment, curiosity and a genuine desire to learn. Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside: driven by pay-rises, material rewards and social approval.”

Extrinsic motivators include:

  • ๐ŸŽ Rewards and punishments
  • ๐Ÿ‘ Social approval
  • ๐Ÿ† Performance goals

These motivators have power, but studies have shown that they don’t hold up long-term.

Intrinsic motivators, however, DO. They include:

  • โค๏ธ Self-fulfillment
  • ๐Ÿค” Curiosity and learning
  • ๐Ÿ’ช Personal growth

These motivators are fueled by our sense of autonomy: the ownership of our explorations, challenges, and successes.

Intrinsic motivation is driven by control.

If you’re considering pursuing composing full-time, it won’t be EASY.

It won’t be SAFE.

It won’t be financially STABLE.

But the real question to ask yourself is this:

“Does the curiosity I have about the challenge of composing full-time energize me enough to try?”

If the answer is a definitive YES, then give it a try and find out. (You can always change your mind if it doesn’t feel right later)

If the answer is a definitive NO, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

And if the answer is MAYBE, try anyway, and be honest with yourself through that journey.

But here’s the truth:

If you pursue a composing career for any reason OTHER than your passions/desires, you’ll likely burn out long before you ever get there.

You’ve got to do this career because it’s what you LOVE to do, and you simply want to do more of it.

And if you love it right now, the question is no longer IF it’s worth pursuing.

It’s HOW.

(If you’re ready to give composing full-time a try, I highly recommend you check out my 6-week Composing Career Bootcamp. Cohort 2 begins April 2024!)

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