“We are what we repeatedly do,” goes the famous quote that is often attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle. “Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” As we move into a New Year, words such as these may feel especially relevant. Many of us will be thinking about the things we want to achieve as DJs and producers in 2023, along with the optimal methods of attaining these goals.
We may want to improve our DJ technique. Expand our musical horizons. Or perhaps this is the year we finally focus on learning music production. When it comes to hobbies, even those we’re serious about, we often simply “follow our noses,” doing what feels best in the moment. But if you’re motivated by continual improvement, or would like to some day make a career out of your passion (or you want to sustain the career you have), you’ll probably need to approach things a little differently.
“Habits are behaviours wired so deeply in our brains that we perform them almost automatically,” Steven Bartlett recently said on a habits-focussed episode of his popular podcast and YouTube series, The Diary Of A CEO. The trick is to train ourselves to form an almost non-negotiable relationship with a given action, whereby—to use an extreme example—practising mixing tracks is as hard-wired in your brain as brushing your teeth.
With this in mind, we asked six artists to tell us about the habits or rituals that have helped them the most in their careers. They responded with thoughts and advice on, among other things, setting intentions, digging for music and combining music with sports. Of course, all our goals and circumstances are different, so consider the words below as inspiration for creating your own habits.
If you’re interested in going deeper, James Clear’s 2018 book Atomic Habits is a popular title in this area. In it, he champions the idea of small, regular, repeated actions, saying that “a slight change in your daily habits can guide your life to a very different destination.”