Hi, Doctor Nick! - The Importance of Setting Goals and the Doctor Gets Some Things Off His Chest

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Nick Hook isn't technically a doctor, but the guy definitely has enough wisdom rolling around in his brain to fill a book or two. Every Thursday, our resident advice columnist pops in to answer readers' questions about music, production, touring, gear, DJing, travel, romance, and, well, just about anything they need to know. Want to get in on all the knowledge the good doctor has to offer? Drop him a line at doctornick@xlr8r.com and let the street shaman make your life better.

Ayeee. I hope everyone's well. I'm still hot as fugg. It's like a million degrees here in NYC.

The Novation Bass Station II is super tite. Everyone should keep a lookout for that thing when it drops. Novation killed it.

I had a few things I wanted to write about that have nothing to do with questions since they've been on my mind this week. I hope that's okay. I think they are relevant to all of us here.

1. When it comes to experimenting or being creative, don't let anyone tell you there is a right way or a wrong way. I don't care if you went to school for 20 years and learned every single rule about every single thing, or someone just gave you a laptop with a program and you have no idea. Both approaches are so important and lend things to each other, so don't let anyone make you feel bad for "not knowing." I happen to be self-taught and I think the balance of learning after the fact and being hungry to learn over the years is perhaps why I'm a little different than someone else. Just do you and don't worry about how to do things right. Some of the greatest music we've ever heard comes from one mic in the corner of the room that captured energy by dudes who had no idea about technique.

2. Don't be afraid to walk away from anything. Listen. I'm all for doing ANYTHING for free. It's not a money thing, but just make sure people are accepting your value. Even if something is a good opportunity, if it doesn't quite suit you, don't be afraid to say no. Keep aware that you create your own value, so if you DJ six times a week for 50 dollars per gig to pay your rent, you may be backing yourself into a corner. Everyone knows they can come see you "tomorrow" and that tomorrow might actually be tomorrow or in six months. If you play one or two good shows a month, people will know that they have to come out and see you, cuz you are gonna try and keep things special.

Anyways, I've just been needing to get that off my chest this week.

Eternal shoutout to the god Sergio Vega from Quicksand and Deftones. We made a tight beat last night and had a lot of fun.

Now on to the questions. Keep them coming. doctornick@xlr8r.com.

Hi Doctor Nick,
Making electronic music has been my passion for a few years already. I would be making music 24 hours a day if I could.

The problem is that I can't seem to get my dose of music that I need. With school, the job, friends, a girlfriend, and my tiny home studio that can only hold one person, making music is often a second option and I feel like the life I lead is not what is supposed to be. I have some friends who have the same passion as me. They drop sick tracks every week, keep improving, and are enlarging their audience, while I'm here with a normal and boring life, waking up and going to work and not being productive at all because music has invaded my thoughts. I think it's a question of time management, but I don't know how to deal with this problem, and what to do to have an happy producer life with regular music sessions.

So please Dr. Nick, tell me the path I should take.

Your life is your life. You have to manifest what you want. Set some goals. I don't know exactly how long Rome was built in, but it definitely wasn't a day.

Why don't you think about your goals in three ways: now, semi-future, and long-term future.

Now: this month
Semi: six months to a year
Long-term: one year or more

These are all tied together, so I think you need to think long-term first. What is your ultimate goal? Dream big. If you don't dream, how can you ever get there? (Mine was to have a studio, play and create music with people I admired, and to see the world.) Then, after some of those become reality, you can reassess your goals again and see how they fall in line with the now/semi/long-term and keep going.

I really feel like every year it's important to cut things out of your life. I used to DJ at the Diesel store for like eight hours a time and at first it was cool, but then I fucking hated it cuz it ate my soul alive and I left. It was pretty good money, but I just didn't feel good about it. The next year was the Sake Bar. It had its time and its place, but I was like, "Yo, I can't be working at a bar until I'm 50," even though it was pretty tite. The same goes with music. Don't be complacent. Fear and hunger can bring out results.

You should figure out what is becoming inefficient time in your life. Maybe when school is done, you will have that time and everything else can stay. Maybe a job that pays a little more might help you work less, and maybe going out five nights a week drinking with your friends is taking up time. Look at all of that.

Next thing—think about the next month. Can you take one month to make one song, the best song of your life? Can you focus on your Facebook and your SoundCloud and all that stuff?

I think some of that will get you on the right path. My mantra has been that as long as you're making strides forward everyday, whether they are small or big, you are always moving forward. It sounds corny, but life is long. I didn't put out my first real piece of music until I was 24, and I feel like I'm still just getting started now. So it's all good. Don't trip.

Also, don't look at this as a competition with your friends. Use them as inspiration. They are your friends and we all work differently, so don't try and be them. Try and get their feedback on tracks and have them help you improve, or try and get in the studio with them and see what they are doing that you aren't. Be a student always.

I hope some of that helps. Let's goooo.

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.