A lot of people use the saying opportunities are “a matter of luck.” In actuality, it’s not as entirely random or unpredictable as it may seem. Opportunities can increase by being strategic where you put your efforts. You can put yourself in a position to receive more of the types of opportunities you are looking for.
It’s like riding on the subway. You may not know all the directions to your final destination. But, you probably know if you’re riding in the right direction. If you see you’re going in the wrong direction, you can get off at the next stop and turn around.
This analogy also applies to networking. You could be meeting a lot of people in the area you want to be working (going on the subway the right direction). But, no one is hiring you (you don’t know what stop you’re supposed to take, or you’re taking the wrong ones). The subway is still going in the right direction, though. You just have to learn a bit more about the stops and what it looks like when you come out of the subway. Over time, you’ll gain a sense how to get from one place to another even if you don’t have the exact directions.
The more people you meet (and who know the quality of work), the more likely you are to be recommended for gigs.
Is it better to have a goal to work towards, or to focus more on the present?
Having a dream gives you something to work towards and motivates even when things get hard. On the other hand, things change, including our own preferences. Working on amazing music 80 hours a week might sound great when you’re getting started. But, it’s incredibly difficult to sustain a decades-long career at that pace. Some people don’t reach those original goals because of preference changes or reality sets in. For an assistant at a recording studio, working with famous artists or getting your name on a major album may see great. But, it doesn’t help you if you can’t pay the rent.
We aren’t going to be able to control everything in the trajectory of our lives and careers. We can’t choose whether someone hires us or even likes us. But, we do have a choice. We have the choice to look for opportunities, to take opportunities, or to ignore them.
There can be a lot of fear surrounding opportunities, especially early in your career. There’s the fear that you’ll miss a good opportunity or that you’ll never get another. But it’s just like that subway where there’s always another train. Sometimes there’s delays and you can wait, or you can find another route to get where you’re going.
One mistake is the need to always be in motion. Just because your career isn’t progressing right now doesn’t make it permanent. Having a drive for progress can be incredibly motivating. It can help you keep working hard when things are tough. But, if that drive for progress is making you feel depressed, it may be time for some introspection. There’s lots of small successes along the way if you can pause to enjoy them.