6 Lessons Learned From Following My Dream of Being a Drummer

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” ― John Lennon

It’s been three years since I started my journey to make drums more than just a hobby, and I really haven’t delved into that experience much on the blog.

So, it’s about time I share how going on tour changed my life for the better.

Here is what I learned from chasing my dream.

I hope it helps you realize and believe in greater possibilities for your life.

1. You just have to be “good enough”

First off, timing doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to be the best. You just need to be good enough to get started and take a calculated risk.

When I went on tour I had never played with a click track. I had never really experienced a professional tour in front of large crowds. I wasn’t a formally trained musician or the most talented drummer on the tour. On paper, it was easy to doubt that I would be able to cut it.

It took intention not to fall prey to fear and worry of impending failure.

Don’t let the story of “not enough” hold you back. Stop comparing yourself to others and realize that you’re good enough to get started. (Tip #2 can help you do this!)

2. Deliberate practice and preparation are a must

Yes, you just have to be good enough, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect your weaknesses. You still have to practice and work on your craft so you can reach the point of “good enough,” whatever that looks like for your dream.

You need a realistic measuring stick. You need to have a clear assessment of your capabilities in comparison to your vision or goal. I had to at least be able to hold a rhythm and play with a click track. I had to be able to play the songs without messing up (at least not often). So I made sure this was the case.

The reason I was good enough, is deliberate practice.

Whatever it is you want to do, start deliberately practicing and working on getting better.

3. Slow down and live

We were the support act for the first month of the Neon Tree’s tour. This doesn’t seem like much time, but I found myself fully engrossed in my day to day experience, and because of this time seemed to be in slow motion.

Embracing a seven hour drive through the desert of Utah or feeling reverence for the splendid heights of the Rocky Mountains, I learned to feel grateful for the moment and what true presence means.

I really noticed things. There was nowhere that I needed to be and no to-do list to accomplish. The anxiety and neuroticism of a bustling hectic life was replaced with a calm sense of the fulfillment.

I now know that I want my lifestyle and state of mind to reflect this, and is one reason I will keep pursuing this dream.

4. You can try on a new role

Going from a day-to-day routine of meeting with therapy clients to living on the road is a big shift.

It was a shift in my identity and how I viewed myself. I stepped into a new role as a drummer.

Even though I was a licensed psychotherapist the day before leaving on tour, when we hit the road I was a drummer, and no one I meet along the way assumed otherwise.

My “role” didn’t matter and I felt free. I grew as a person and was able to reinvent myself.

Who we’ve been doesn’t have to get in the way of who we can become.

You’re allowed to try on new roles. What role do you want to try?

5. Turn up the joy and serve

Like most people do from their artistic expression of choice, I get great joy from playing and creating music.

What I didn’t fully connect with until I went on tour however, is how much playing music provides joy to the audience. Every night we played I had the opportunity to share in a moment of joy and delight with the crowd – to be a part of a cherished memory.

I used to think playing in a band, or creating art, was mainly just for personal passion. Now I know it is filled with purpose. The purpose of serving others, poignantly striking an emotional chord that helps to release pain, and to break people free from life’s inertia.

Pursue your passion or artistic expression from a place or service and you’ll realize that it provides immense joy and inspiration to others.

6. People will support you

If you believe in what you’re doing and are willing to ask for support. You may be surprised who’ll come to your aid. Yes You Are wouldn’t have been able to make the tour happen without the numerous people who were abundantly hospitable.

From Denver to Seattle, back to Denver, and down to Austin, Texas we had family and friends providing generosity and encouragement, and from time to time a place to stay and a warm meal. I was a little surprised and immensely grateful.

People will respect and admire you following a dream. If you’re on a wholesome path and you have an honorable reason why you’re doing it, people will want you to succeed.

“Don’t die with the music still in you.” ― Wayne W. Dyer

We should all follow a dream if only to gain the peace of mind that we tried.

Music was that golden thread that kept weaving through the fabric of my life, so when the opportunity came I decided to go for it.

I was just an average guy (and still am) that got to tour around the country playing drums.

If this dream can be a reality, yours can too!

There will be adversity along the way and it won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.


  • Hi Joe,
    Excellent tips on how to cultivate happiness. I especially like: Cultivate Positivity & Find meaning.
    I believe that people who look for the positive meaning behind the events of their lives are more flexible and therefor less stressed in life. When you are flexible you’ll live a longer and happier life. You know that sometimes things won’t go your way so you don’t expect them to 100 percent of the time. You let things roll off your back more easily and that relaxed laid back attitude is a benefit for physical, mental and emotional health.

    • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Angela,

      Thanks so much for stopping by! This a great point and certainly an important aspect of maintaining a positive attitude and outlook. I have learned that when things don’t go as planned if I can focus on what was gained, even if the most minimal thing, it adds a sense of purpose and meaning to what otherwise would be a totally negative experience.

  • Joe,

    I like the concept of “triggering” happiness. For me, the best trigger is to appreciate exactly what I have without waiting more!


    • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind


      Thanks for offering your insight and commenting! The power of gratitude is amazing! I practice cultivating this as much as possible because frankly it doesn’t come easy. As I strive for more it’s easy to forget the positive things in my life currently. I am learning to be content and grateful even as I aspire for greater things in my life.

  • Joe: I loved this post and thought this list was so great. I actually just shared one of your prior posts on happiness that I also really enjoyed;) You’ve got this happiness thing down … thanks for passing along your knowledge.

    • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Sibyl,

      Thanks so much for your support! I really appreciate it and am glad to offer some helpful ideas. I loved the notion that I could enhance my happiness in a natural and healthy way, and for this reason have really begin researching and exploring the many ways to do so.

  • Ken Wert

    Hi Joe!
    I love the idea of cultivating courage. Each item on the list was great, actually. But when we can muster the courage to step up and step out onto life’s limbs of opportunity, that’s when wonderful things start to happen!
    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts! We can all be courageous if we learn to face our fears. I like to take inventory at times of the worries and anxieties I have overcome, and the fears and challenges I have pushed past. This really helps me realize that much of what I fear is only an obstacle to be overcome by taking action and seeking self-growth.

  • Triggering positive – a truly individual article Joe, very well done on this. I personally was an anxiety filled life-is-a-threat person for a few years and it isn’t good I can tell you. What swayed it to me was to simply start looking for more happy sights to look at – children playing, people laughing, nice sunshine, friends having fun, an old couple holding hands. And then try seeing this for more minutes per day, at first 10 mins then 20 and so on. This will flood your senses and make your endorphins flow freely. Love the post, most original and decidely beneficial for every reader.

    • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi John,

      Thanks so much for sharing! I really appreciate it. This is a great notion for increasing positivity. When we become open to noticing and finding those moments of inspiration, amusement, and joy in our everyday life it makes a world of difference over time. It’s one of those things that has to be personally experiened to really understand how it impacts you. It sounds like you made the effort to focus on what coud provide you more happiness and it has worked. Thanks for offering this inspiration!

  • Awesome, awesome post Joe! 

    You really packed this one with a lot of worthwhile information. 

    For me finding authentic positive outcomes in my life, came from challenging the why of my behavior. Why was I doing the things I was doing. I quickly began to realize that certain things were not because I wanted to do them, but because society deemed I should. Superficial happiness.  

    Just like you found happiness in the autonomy to create (music, writing, beauty)  I too find that my happiness stems from creation.  Particularly in innovative ways to change the lives of others.  I’m currently working on ways to challenge people to get outside their comfort zones and engage in behaviors that have a positive impact in the world. 

    Really great post Joe!

    • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks so much for sharing and glad you connected! Asking why? is a big part of making change. We may simply not be aware of why we’re doing something despite the negative impact it has. When we can explore our bigger vision and mission for life if offers some direction for seeking a meaningful life. As our behavior and goals start to connect with our mission and vision it is likely to provide a lot of authentic happiness and true fulfillment. For me the things I mention in the post offer gratification and fulfillment, which leads to longer lasting positivity.

  • amazing post joe 🙂
    i become in a positive mood when i recall my most important dreams

    • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Farouk,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Visualization and thinking of positive people and places helps with my mood also. Sometimes I visualize a relaxing scene when I need to manage worry, and when I’m looking for some inspiration I visualize a successful future!

  • Hey Joe,
    I am like you, I was never meant to be a negative person either. I find that the more control that I have in my life the happier that I am.

    I have also noticed that being present in the moment has allowed me to feel better as well. Many times I would go on auto pilot and I wasn’t really living in the moment. My thoughts would bounce from past and present thoughts.

    • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! You offer some great awareness about how we can increase happiness. When we begin to be conscious of our thinking it really changes much of our emotional experience. Staying present is truly powerful as it helps us to calm both our mind and body. We can go through life hustling and rushing around and miss much of the joy in the moment.

  • Hey Joe!

    I think my biggest optimism trigger is realizing that I hold the gun. (Maybe not a good metaphor for optimism, but you catch my drift) Happiness is not conditional it is a choice. As I learn about other lifestyles and cultures and see how much less they have, I become more and more perplexed with how they can have such high levels of optimism.  

    I think it’s because happiness is a choice. That has been the biggest self-discovery I’ve made thus far.  

    Love your posts on optimism Joe!

    • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks so much for offering your thoughts! It really is empowering when we realize that we have some control over our well-being and happiness. This is a huge self-discovery as you mention, and it’s the start of living a more fulfilling and satisfying life if we make efforts to explore what helps us be happier and make the changes.

  • Hey Joe,

    Great read, and I’m loving the site!

    The one thing that I’ve learned to do is to never get out of bed until I am excited to start my day. I will never lay there for hours until I feel ready to get up, but I’m usually able to wake up instantly and get ready to start my day. I’m always looking forward to what the next day has in store for me, and am sometimes too excited to even fall asleep because of what I’ve done the previous day.

    Maybe I’m too happy, but it works out alright for me and definitely keeps me going strong!

    — Alex

    • Joe @ Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for contributing to the post and offering your support! It sounds like you have passion and purpose in your life. When we can live with enthusiasm and inspiration it is a wonderful thing. I know where you’re coming from because I begin to realize when I’m on the wrong track because I lose focus, can’t concentrate, and simply lack the energy that I usually do. When I follow my purpose and passions it is reinvigorating!

  • rob

    Great tips, Joe. It is incredibly empowering to know we can take control by developing our own triggers. We all get stuck in a woeful attitude from time to time. The great news is that we are far more intelligent than what a woeful attitude offers. We need just take control of our minds, which puts us in command of our Mental Karma. Awareness is the first right step to correcting what’s wrong. Ask me today, “What’s wrong with life?” I’ll respond, “If something is wrong with my life, I am simply putting too much WOE into it.” 

    • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Rob,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your wisdom! You’re right, awareness is the first step to making changes in the way we think and feel. This can often be overlooked when we get caught up in the drama and let our limiting beliefs keep us down. As we gain greater awareness we have a chance to manage and change the way we feel and learn what offers us greater positivity. Then we have the choice to seek out the things that lift us up instead of keeping us down.

  • Joe: What a great post and I think it is helpful to know that we can control how we are being affected by whatever happens once we learn our triggers. I also loved that list you shared. I am a big fan of the gratitude list. Great post.

    • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind

      Hi Sibyl,

      Thanks for stopping by again! I am also big on focusing on gratitude and the blessings that life offers. Gratitude also helps me to be more compassionate and experience more moments of joy.

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Hi Joe,
    Trigger happiness…I love it! Gratitude is a must for me. I love writing it in journals. I honestly can say this one thing has changed my outlook and my life.

  • Joe,

    I love reading and whenever I learn something that is thought provoking – I feel very positive. Writing is beginning to have a positive effect on me as well and the more I write the more I feel I have a purpose.

    • Joe – Shakeoffthegrind


      Thanks for stopping by! Engaging in activities where we are in the zone and feeling passionate is such an uplifting experience. I spoke with a friend the other day who has taken on a new professional role and is totally absorbed and in the zone with his work. He wakes up feeling enthusiastic he told me, and I have never seen him happier.

  • Sotiris Sakellaropoulos

    Yesterday was Sunday and today was a special Monday in Greece which I don’t know how to translate in English but I say it literally Clean Monday. It’s the Monday at which after 40 days comes Easter. On Clean Monday we don’t work. So 2 days I was painting on my computer almost all the time. It was a great experience!

    • Sotiris, thanks for the comment! Sounds like painting is a passion of yours, and hopefully something you can do more and more of!

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