SUSTAINABILITY over popularity
I wish someone had enlightened me to this idea when I was age between 16-24, back in the days where I have plenty of time and energy yet clueless in my musical direction. As I became more exposed to popular music, I also became a music theory snob. I love pop, but it is overrated. It is like the tip of the iceberg. When you dive, there is still more. Lately, I realized how important it is to go further in my musical journey. An intrinsic motivation that drives me not to focus on popularity but on the desire to discover more and aim for excellence. It makes me feel happier and secure.
The desire for inquiry and excellence are practical means for every musician. Most likely, these would lead to sustainability, flexibility, and lifelong journey satisfaction. If you are young, get a music diploma or any other professional music course while gigging around. Do not short cut music and kill yourself to become popular right away. Have more experience and deep learning in music. For most musicians, popularity is short-lived, while aiming for excellence is for a lifetime. It's a painful-boring process, but worth it.