5 Most Important Lessons I Learned in 2018
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
I want to wrap up this year by sharing with you the five most important lessons I've learned in 2018. This year has been crazy for me in so many ways, and I hope that I can inspire and motivate you through my experiences, just as they have inspired and motivated me to push even harder (or maybe just smarter?) in 2019. Let's dive in.
1) Take care of your body.
2018 has been all about health for me. I wasn't happy with how I was living my life during 2017 - I was constantly stressed, inefficient in my day-to-day life, wasn't able to overcome a lot of my bad habits, and had become pretty chubby and overweight. My girlfriend moved to Texas in the US to work as an au pair for all of 2018 in order to grow as a person, so I decided to dedicate this year to better myself as well. If there was ever a right time for me to start dealing with my health, both physically and mentally, it was now.
Since February I've started lifting weights, lost 25kg (55lbs) of weight, became super conscious about- and interested in nutrition, introduced a lot of good habits into my daily life such as social media breaks, daily walks, 8h sleep per night, and much more.
I've never felt better. I cannot stress enough how important exercise and nutrition is. I feel better not just in my day-to-day life, but also behind the kit. My mind is clearer, and my body is stronger and more nimble. I have better control of both my muscles and my brain than I previously thought was possible, which has played a huge part in my growth as a drummer this year.
You don't have to become a body builder or an athlete. Set your own level of ambition, and just start SOMEWHERE. The act of taking care of your body every day, even if just a little bit, does more for your mind and body than you can imagine.
2) Embrace where you're at right now.
This is something I've always been thinking about, but it never really sunk in properly until this year. I've learned that I'm not able to do everything. There are a lot of things I'm not good at - I don't have the best groove, or the craziest chops. But I don't let that weigh me down, instead I flip it around and focus on my current strengths.
I can point to a single event this year that gave me this revelation - TamTam DrumFest in Seville, Spain, on November 4th. I performed on the same roster as some monster drummers that day - Calvin Rodgers, Ash Soan, Sarah Thawer, Derrick Wright, and Michael Schack.
I don't have the chops Calvin has. I don't have the groove Ash has. I don't have the rhythm knowledge Sarah has, or the musicality Derrick has, or the energy Michael has. But I have my own personality. My own story. My own strengths. THOSE are the things I need to focus on. I'm far from fully learned, and I never will be, but wherever I'm at on my timeline, I have SOMETHING to share.
I've realized that I'm still just a baby in the grand scheme of things. I've got all the time in the world, and at the end of the day, all that matters is that I work to become a better drummer and a better person every day. Change is the only constant in life, and if you approach it the right way, change brings growth. Embrace the journey.
3) Dare to take one step back, two steps forward.
At the start of this year, I quit the tribute band I was gigging with every weekend of 2017. This was a tough decision to make financially, as it ment sacrificing literally half of my income, but I knew that it was a step back I had to take. I was starting to feel a bit burned out from those gigs, and felt like it was too much time spent into something that was almost like a separate career for me. The things I really wanted to focus on, like teaching, producing videos, doing clinics, etc. were starting to take a back seat, so I realized it was time to let go of that gig in order to free up more time for the things I really wanted in my career.
Said and done, I left the band, and entered a very tough period of time financially. But I had faith in my ability to use all the extra time on my hands to build something bigger and better for the future - I knew I needed to take a step back in order to later be able to take two steps forward. Towards the second half of 2018 I was back on my feet financially again, as a result of having been able to spend more time and effort on building my own brand and name, doing more drum clinics and private lessons, traveling more on my own, producing more content, etc., and ever since then it has just kept moving forward and upwards. I'm incredibly happy that I made that decision at the start of the year, and that I trusted in my ability to turn things around for the better.
It can be daunting to move on from something that's keeping you stable financially, but if it's also holding you back mentally and keeping you in a state of stress and unhappiness, you won't regret moving on. Invest your time into the things that really matter to you.
4) Surround yourself with the right people.
On a similar note to what I wrote up above about investing your time into the things that really matter to you, surrounding yourself with the right people is incredibly important. Many of us know someone with a negative attitude, someone who just drains you of energy and inspiration, yet still we keep them in our lives and let them bring us down. It can be hard to cut ties with people, but sometimes you need to step back and take a serious look at the relationships you have in your life. Not just with friends, but sometimes with family, too. Surround yourself with people that share the same mindset as you. People who have the same ambitions as you. Develop win-win relationships where you can give something and trust that you'll get something back. And most importantly, learn when it's time to say enough is enough. I don't want to get too personal and in-depth about my relationships, but let's just say I'm glad to have cut some ties and distanced myself from some people this year.
5) Create your own luck.
This year I've really come to realize how much influence I have over the events that take place in my life and the relationships that form from it. In the past, I've been afraid to present ideas and plans to people, thinking that I'd be asking too much or that my plans wouldn't be of any interest to others. But to my surprise, I've made a lot of things happen this year by just taking a leap of faith and going for it. Planning that trip, going to see that show, making that connection, networking with those people - and this is how you create your own luck. Here are a few examples of things I've done this year, largely due to me taking a shot at it and just putting my foot out there.
- An 11 day long trip to London, Brighton, Munich and Berlin filled with private lessons in each city, holding speeches at seminars about social media, and exploring new cities.
- Private lessons and new connections with some great people during my trip to Spain for TamTam DrumFest.
- My first ever drum camp, organized by me and held in my own studio.
- Several clinics scheduled in Sweden for next year, as a result of me reaching out to- and building relationships with the right people.
- Exciting new collaborations coming up next year with some major companies in the industry.
And much more. I'm no longer afraid of throwing my ideas out to people, as well as just making things happen on my own. You'd be surprised by how much power and influence you actually have over your life, once you start putting one foot in front of the other and just go for it.
2018 has been a real turning point for me in many ways, and I think this is going to be a year I'll look back at in the future as one of the most defining years of my life. I hope these five lessons gave you some valuable insight and inspiration, and that my experience can help you take control of your own life and make the most of it.
Happy New Year. I'll see you in 2019.
- Siros Vaziri