When you’re unhappy, you wonder: should you focus on improving your outlook or changing your situation?

Changing your outlook sounds easier and certainly less scary.  The positive thinkers will tell you to smile and the good feelings will find you.  Look for the silver lining.  It will all work out.

But after a while, positive thinking needs to lead to positive action.  It’s great to find a way to enjoy the job you’ve got in the short-term, but how do you know when to make the leap for the work you love?

Dave Hoskins may not have all the answers, but he has the experience.  He started playing guitar at age seven, but was convinced a career in music was too risky.   After twenty years of trying to “whistle while he worked” in other careers, he’s now got a great new band, named LYRE, and the confidence to let his heart sing.

We could all stand to take note.

Who are you listening to?

When the adults in Dave’s life discouraged him from pursuing a music career, he was devastated.  When his parents told him he couldn’t make a living playing in a band, he listened.

So what do you do when your dream career has been ripped apart?  You look for confirmation, wherever you can find it.

Dave told me

I started looking around for something art-related I could make a go at. I had an aunt who had complimented a few photos I’d taken while on vacation and that was validation I was sorely in need of.

That led to an interest in photojournalism, and then a job working at the local paper.  He rode that wave over the next ten years, until he was eventually freelancing for national and international newspapers, magazines and wire services.

Dave’s story sounds extraordinary, because he’s giving you all the background behind it.  But I find that for over-achievers, stories like his are all too common.  Dave is clearly talented, probably talented enough he could succeed by traditional standards at nearly anything.  But his need for approval meant he became an opportunist: someone who follows opportunities (or compliments) instead of creating them.

In fact, by the time he felt he’d plateaued with photography, he tried once more to make a go at music.  But the negative voices, now mostly in his head, wouldn’t shut up.  And it was still too painful to step beyond them, despite a decade of distance and maturity.

So he went into film instead.

I told Dave that his decisions about careers and risk sounded a bit strange.  From my perspective, music seems just as risky when compared to careers in photography and film.  He responded

The people I was looking to for approval didn’t see it that way.  I was so dependent on the approval of certain influential people that I made key life decisions based on it.

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer gives it prominence in his teachings saying, “You were brought up in various kinds of tribes and the mantra of the tribe is ‘What will they think?’ Leaving tribal thinking is key in manifesting the life you desire.”

After a stormy partnership in film, he finally had had enough.  He realized at this point in his life, he truly had nothing to lose by making the music he loved.

How to start your “singing career”

Dave’s music speaks to the self-examination (and doubt) that is so prevalent in career changers.  He expresses both the pain and the hope, the love and the loss.  As Dave says

If Coldplay, David Byrne & Dire Straits formed a supergroup and wrote songs about the themes taught by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, or Jack Canfield it might sound like LYRE

These days, I’m incredibly selective about what I listen to.  As I’ve gotten older I’m more easily distracted, so there’s a big hurdle to make it onto my playlist.

I love the 80’s style sound of LYRE, and it’s tempting to just bounce around to the feel good rhythms.  But it also feels like this music was written especially for career changers.  Or life-grabbers.  And in a way, it was.

If you take him up on the offer to download their first single “Shining Through” for free, you’ll see what I mean.  The lyrics for “Shining Through” (maybe Everyday Bright’s new theme song?) begin

I hear a little voice inside of me/says that life is more than what I see/son, I think it’s time you go and turn it around

It’s funny.  On April Fool’s day, the world tries to play a trick on us.

The rest of the year, we trick ourselves into believing we can’t.  It’s too hard.  It’s not the right time.  We’re too old.

If you’re tired of listening to those voices in your head, try listening to the upbeat messages of LYRE instead.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it time runs out.”

The stage of life won’t wait for you to walk onto it.

So go ahead.  Be brave enough to give your heart the microphone.

Forget whistling while you work.  Sing.  Sing like you really mean it.