2015 has been a strange year.

I won’t get into all the details, but at different times throughout the last 8 months, Pam and I have each struggled with depression and motivation. We’ve both been through fairly long seasons of feeling incapable of doing all the things we want to do.

While I know there are many, MANY factors at play, and everyone is different, I wanted to share some things that have worked for me.

goalBefore I begin, though, I have to say that a huge part of why some people lose motivation has to do with chemical imbalance or other psychological or physiological problems. There is absolutely a need for medical intervention if the problem gets to a point where you can’t function.

But once you get back to “functional,” what then?

One Motivated Dude

I’ve changed over the years. Mostly for good, I think.

I used to be obsessed with work. Workaholic is a good word for it. I was motivated, hard-working, obsessed. I derived much of my self-worth from how I was doing, how well I was performing, how much money I was making.

It’s a slippery slope. As soon as I would reach one milestone, I would celebrate for about 8 seconds, then focus my attention on the next milestone…and the next…and the next. I would have a big breakthrough or a successful product launch, and I would be bummed out, because it wasn’t “bigger.”

Slowly I came to realize how unhealthy it all was. As a friend of mine says, “If the grass seems greener on the other side, water your damn lawn.”

There will always be someone better than me, taller than me, thinner than me, stronger than me, better-looking than me, more talented than me, wealthier than me, more engaging than me… If my self-worth is wrapped up in beating that person and being “number one,” I’ll never be happy.

So a big part of finding my motivation was digging deeper into the WHY.

Why do I do what I do?

Why did I start Home Studio Corner?

Why do I make music?

Why did I marry my wife and have kids?

The more connected I am with the REAL reasons why I do the things that I do, the easier it is for me to become content with who I am and be motivated to reach my potential.


Seth Godin wrote this on his blog recently:

“Just because a thing can be noticed, or compared, or fretted over doesn’t mean it’s important, or even relevant.

Better, I think, to decide what’s important, what needs to change, what’s worth accomplishing. And then ignore all comparisons that don’t relate. The most important comparison, in fact, is comparing your work to what you’re capable of.

I feel the most healthy, and the most motivated, when I’m comparing who I am with who I believe I can be. When I’m striving to be the man I was designed to be, to reach my own potential, I experience joy even in the midst of struggle. A failure doesn’t define me, it’s just another stepping stone on the way to becoming a better version of myself.

“What if you let yourself down? What if you don’t reach your potential?” some might ask. It’s a fair question.

As corny as it may sound, I think a lot of it comes down to goals. What are your goals for your life? I’m not talking about the goals you think you should have, the goals other people want for you. What are YOUR goals? What do YOU want most?

When I’m pursuing goals that are uniquely mine, I’m in line with who I was uniquely made to be. Even if I never hit those goals, even if I never fully reach that potential, I will be a more content, joyful person while I am pursuing them.

For example, I’ve recently been thinking through setting some pretty lofty financial goals for me and my family. They’re big goals, ambitious goals. But I also feel like they line up with what’s most important to us, and the amount of impact we could have on our family, friends, and the world if we reached those goals.

But what if I never get there? Will I be a failure? Of course not. Part of being the man I was made to be is pursuing the goals I was made to pursue. That’s where life happens. Whether I hit my goals or not, if my goals align with my deeper purpose for life, I will be living the best life I can live while I pursue them.

Besides, let’s say you set a goal to make $1 million. What if you missed it by fifty percent? Then you would have “only” made $500,000. Falling short of a massive goal is still a big fat WIN.

But of course, this is about more than money. This about the deeper core desires we each have, a desire for meaning, for purpose, to leave a legacy. And especially for us home studio owners, a desire to create something beautiful.

If you align your goals with things like this, it’s hard to remain unmotivated for very long. There’s lots of work to do, and it’s not the kind of work you feel like you “should” be doing.

It’s work you were made to do.

  • Just re-read this article, Joe. I’ve been suffering something very similar for three or four months now. I’ve been thinking of giving up on the music/recording aspect of my life and just focusing on working the normal day job to care for my wife and kids…but I remembered your article and thought I might divine some wisdom from it that would help me. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one suffering through this. No, I’m not glad that anyone has to go through it, but I’m just glad I’m not alone. This industry can be very….unforgiving….and people in it can be somewhat “bite-y.” If you’re not prepared for that, it/they can chew you up and spit you out. Maybe re-focusing on the “why” of what I’m doing can help me regain the desire and motivation to continue. I really do love making music, recording and teaching others. Maybe 2016 will be a little more……..purposeful.
    Thanks again, Joe, for everything you do.

    • I’m glad this was helpful, Matt. I’ve found that when I’m feeling most disconnected from what I’m doing at Home Studio Corner, it usually has something to do with me not pursuing music like I want to be.

      • That makes great sense, Joe. I’ve made the commitment that no matter what I do this year, I will continue to make music for myself in the studio. Maybe I can strike that balance that will keep me happy and “connected.” I really appreciate the article.

  • Rob Mayzes

    You have no idea how much this just helped me… thanks Joe.

    Really, thank you.

    • You’re very welcome Rob. Thanks for checking it out.

  • Kyle Sutton

    Joe, totally agree with your approach of setting goals for yourself only. I think this helps fuel the fire of achieving great results and doesn’t needlessly pit you against what other people have achieved (which I struggle with constantly). Nice to hear you’ve been able to work through your struggles and come out on top. Know that you’ve been a huge inspiration to myself and countless other home studio owners!

  • Samuel Fuller

    Thanks for writing this Joe. I’ve been hearing stuff like it for a long time now and really feel it’s time to take it to heart. Keep being awesome, buddy!

  • Manuel

    That’s just what I needed now. Altough I think I made tremendous progress during the last months I still regurarly question myself why I even try to do music when there are so many better and younger producers out there.. Then I remember why started; it’s the desire you wrote about to create something beautiful/meaningful.
    Thank you

  • Thomas Kibodeaux

    Good reminders. I need to go water my lawn, I’ll be right back. This and similar themes seem to be uncommonly common from all you Nashville folks lately. I could list 5 blogs quickly that have had very similar posts. Y’all should meet up and encourage each other while you collaborate.

  • ssobiech

    Joe, inspired writing, thank you for sharing.

  • One of the best article you’ve written Joe. I think this kind of things is something most creative people struggle with. Working with something that is you’re passion it’s easy that we get so into it so we don’t realize where getting to cought up with it. It’s healthy to take a brake once in a while and reavluate what we’re doing and make sure it resonate with who we are.

    I take my hat of and slute you Joe!

  • Dan Bires

    I think the best way to look at it is look around you. Really look at what you have done and created after all these years. Be proud of yourself. Dont let those demons possess you. Depression is a demon and I rebuke that demon in the name of Jesus Christ. Be honest and work harder each and every day. In the end you will realize you have created your own legacy. Remember God provides for us all and he knows how much we can handle give or take.

  • Marleen Chiaravalle

    I think those questions are ones we all could chew on; what happens if you fail? What happens if you don’t make your goal? Are you REALLY doing what your passionate about and what your were MADE to do? Thanks for the insight.

  • ScooterMac

    Man, it felt like we were all around a campfire and just talking about life’s struggles and how to make this journey we are all on, a better one. Pretty cool!
    That was a very refreshing read Joe, and made me think about how we are all pretty much in the “same boat” as human beings. Music is a great stress reliever for me, and don’t know what I would do with out it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being personal with us, and for doing what you do with HSC !

  • I think many people struggle with the same sort of thing. The biggest problem I have is the comparing myself to other people that I want to be like or think I should be like. “I should be doing this or I should be doing that. Look at those people, they are doing it and look how successful they are.” (You are one of those people to me, Joe)

    Then I think, “Well I can’t do it as well as them so why bother? I’m not that good and I never will be. Who am I kidding?” We need motivation, especially from our spouse. And if they are in the same boat we are really in trouble.

    I work from home all day long with my significant other and business partner and when she is in the same down in the dumps mood about our finances and our future as I am, we think we may as well close our studio and get real jobs.

    One of my clients is Steve Chandler, a motivational speaker and author of 30+ books. I have lived by his teachings for the past 15 years. Look him up, he is very inspiring in a comical way. But he will also tell it to you like no one would dare, because no one wants the truth to come out. But it’s the only way.

    Some of his works, all worthy reads:

    100 Ways To Motivate Yourself
    Reinventing Yourself
    The 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back
    The Story Of You
    Wealth Warrior

    Thanks for a great article. What we all should remember is we are not alone.

  • Jerry

    Every time I read your article like this, it just another confirmation that recording artist/musician are human too. And it felt good to know that I’m not the only one struggling with big music goals. Both you and Graham has been such an inspiration for me and many others. Thanks so much for pouring your heart out to all of us!

  • Jamspoon

    I thought you were going to promote a hsc bundle at the end! Hee hee!

    But in all seriousness that was a nice post. I could definately relate to a lot of it. Long live Home Studio Corner!

  • Jason Tufts

    What a fresh, genuine read. Thanks for wearing your heart on your sleeve, Joe! It’s honesty like this that reinvigorates my connection to people.

    I feel like I spent half my life creating expectations and the remainder has already spent in fulfilling obligations for which I am underwhelmed. I don’t want things. It makes me happy. It makes me sad.

    I am exhausted by the constant effort it takes to feign satisfaction from pageantry. You must feel some of the same since you maintain a much more public profile. It’s hard to be honest. Don’t give up.

    I don’t even know what goals to set for myself. As my naivety disappears, so does my blind ambition. Everything is illuminated, so nothing is. I crave darkness and solitude in the hope some contrast may reveal a path through all the shining people.

    Just a rough in the diamonds.

    • Rough in the diamonds….I like that.

  • Rocky

    Here is a great one from Wayne Dyer: Read the 8 point plan to decontamination…….
    It’s helped me greatly……

  • Rob

    If I may, I’d like to suggest a great song by a band called Tones on Tail called “Go!” Not the Moby semi-cover version, which sampled the original, but the original. It’s got a great massively fuzzed bass and a glockenspiel, so that ought to tell you that you’re in for an interesting musical ride. However, you might find the lyrics highly relevant. It’s my go-to song for when I’m feeling like the pressures of the world–and I am usually a happy weirdo, thanks in part to learning the lessons this song collects and shares. 🙂

  • Chuck Gunn

    Awesome awesome awesome. Life lessons and heartfelt being. This hit at exactly the right time for me, as well – bonus. Thanks for being open and driven to be your best. I am certainly blessed by your experiences and willingness to Live. The Gildren have a great father!

  • Rob Kuhlman

    Great article Joe. Our goals and more importantly why we have set goals is an opportunity for self realization that all people can benefit from.

  • Wishingwell

    Very poignant and insightful sir. Your article is an encouragement me. Passing it along to my hubby! Thanks for sharing your heart it is much appreciated. 🙂

    • Thanks!

      • Wishingwell

        You’re very welcome! :))

  • Deric Jones

    I agree wholeheartedly. I have been wrestling with some of this myself. My company recently hired an Executive Coach for me and she recommended the book “The Five Choices to Extraordinary Productivity” by Kogon, Merrill, and Rinne. It has been an excellent Time Management resource, but has also helped me review my different roles: leader, manager, husband, father, etc. It has great advice and is a simple read.
    What a blessing to have “Real” people offering their struggles and hopes. Keep it up Joe!!!

    • Nice! I’m always up for a new book to read. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Great article, Joe. I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ve been going through the same sort of soul-searching questions lately. You’re so right. Set big goals, but then live the life you were made to live along the way. Make sure the ladder is against the right wall, and start climbing. But don’t forget to enjoy the climb, because the journey is even more important than the destination 🙂

  • boingy

    Love the Honesty Joe, and I always liked you as a person. I haven’t been involved on your site for some years now, and that’s because I never stop writing. Its a lucky place to be. I still subscribe to you because I believe your site is a great thing, no…achievement…..Its more than just a thing….and you raise some great points. What is failure ?…Often its when you dont meet the world’s ideal’s. Our own goals if there was no other place to impress would be far more attainable….and dare I say satisfying.
    Stay cool Joe…..great post……now I’m off to write some more songs. 🙂

  • Joe, I for one completely understand where you are coming from; depression can be frustrating, even suffocating at moments – often to the point where you feel so overwhelmed you can’t even see a way out. I’ve suffered similarly for years, and even with the tremendous help and support, I’ve received from professionals, friends, my wife and kids, there are still moments where you feel like you want to throw up your hands and say, “Fine…I surrender; I give up.” Each of us has a path that lead us to right here and now…whatever route that may have been. My issues and suffering are no greater than anyone else’s; but I’m the one who has to live with the choices I make, as do some around me. Somehow, through the ups and downs, there is always a moment that makes me realize this is all worth the struggle. For me, it was a later-in-life decision to take an earlier than expected retirement from teaching to pursue music full-time (something I always wanted to do, but never mustered the nerve to do it). Walking a tightrope without a net as a business owner is scary; when I’m not gigging heavily, I wonder if and when my next gig will come. When I’m in between recording projects, and there’s a whole in my schedule, I worry if someone else will come through that door. Patience was never my strength; that said, I’ve found it’s OK to lean on those that love me – even taking an afternoon to say “enough of this crap – I’m taking my kids to the pool!” Be well, Joe. Know that you’re doing a lot of good for many; and truly know you’re not alone in this struggle. Feel free to lean on the community as often as you need be. You’ve certainly earned it for all the generosity you’ve shown us. Much love and success from DC, my studio friend.

  • Low Pro

    Thanks.. I needed that.

  • Justin Spence

    You go Joe! You are a fantastic human and nothing can stop you. Don’t forget us little guys on your climb to world domination 🙂

  • Thank you for being transparent Joe.

  • Absolutely LUUUURVE this, Joe. Probably your finest writing to date!

    • I think you’re biased, Jonny, but thanks! 🙂

      • martin

        hey joe…in my case, it’s been a strange 3 years, but thanks to insight from people like you I’ve learned a lot. amazing what just listening can do for you, or as my grandfather loved to tell me..you’re not learning anything with your mouth open!..thanks joe….peace