If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of your colleagues and friends tell you how busy they are. Sure it’s hard to deal with the pressures of having a job, all the while worrying about the added time, energy and money needed to continue your pursuit of having a singing career. And what about having any kind of a social life? Being too busy becomes the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” I want to give you some ideas to try out to see if they will help you feel more in control of your world and the path you’re on.
A regular job, job requires a certain amount of your time and energy. However, for the most part, I think when you are done and off the clock, you can leave it behind and focus on what needs to be done next, whether it involves your career or is personal or even social.
If you are having trouble leaving your jobs’ energy, stress and thoughts at the door when you leave your job you might want to try this: Look down at your feet. Create a circle on the floor around your feet by holding your arms out and turning in a circle. Notice how big it is and give it any color that seems right for that moment. Now as you stand there, feel the weight of whatever the issues are from you day as if they were heavy woolen coats soaked in water and slowly let one at a time drop off your shoulders and arms to the floor of your circle. Hear it, see it and feel it land on the floor in your circle. When all your issues are on the floor of your circle, look at them and then step over them all and out of the circle. Notice that they are all over there, still in that circle. Notice how much lighter, and liberated you feel. Your mind is also relieved of any unnecessary worries about things you can do nothing about. Now it’s time to move on to the next project and activities. If what you left behind is important, it will be right where you left it when you go to work the next time and you can pick it up and get it done. (This is a great practice especially when one has to go directly from work to a coaching, rehearsal or voice lesson. You will feel and be more awake and focused, ready to work.)
“Maintaining a complicated life is a great way to avoid changing it.” – Elaine St. James
One of the biggest crazy makers I know is not recognizing and understanding how to get to where you want to go. So… Have you created a small weekly or monthly plan of action and made it as detailed as you can. You might want to try mind mapping to get you going on this project. It allows you to create a main focus point for the week or month and then as you think of the steps necessary to make it happen, you simply write them down randomly around the main point. Then step back, notice where there is a pattern of items to do that will take you to the next one and string them together with a pen or colored pencils. Continue this process until every item has found its appropriate place. Make a list from these groupings and prioritize it and divide the tasks up giving yourself doable smaller chunks for each day of the week or month. This might inspire even more ideas. It keeps you from continually throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it will stick metaphorically. You will know what the next step is and where it will take you when you have a simple, doable plan. This also lets you know just how much you can successfully put on your plate at a time without overloading it. Simple is also better. And so is slow and steady wins the race.
“…if we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.” – Ivan Turgenev
Remember that without mistakes and failures, we don’t learn anything. You do something, make the necessary adjustment or scratch the whole thing and do something else until you find what works best just for you.
Do you feel anxious or guilty when you aren’t working at your job or doing something to move your career forward? These chaotic feelings can take us away from reality, are not necessary and are not an inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acceptance of it. So lighten up, indulge in idleness when necessary. It’s as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body. This empty and quiet space provides the necessary breathing room to stand back and look at the whole enchilada of your life. You might find some unexpected connections and even become inspired by the essence of what you or others do. History is filled with stories of inspirations that come from idle moments and dreams.
Having a singing career is not a competition. Every singer has an authentic and unique gift. Adjudicators, those that hire or cast a production have their own taste and specific needs, so it’s a very subjective selection that they make. One may love this voice, personality and ability and the next person will love that one. Your job is to first put in place a solid vocal platform before you tackle coaching, auditions, performances, etc. If you don’t take the time to get that in position you will probably remain disappointed with the outcome of what you are trying to accomplish. Once that is in place, your “job” is to tell a story and take the audience on a journey. We as opera singers, do this mostly through the sound of your unique voice which carries the emotions of the character and the story.
And it is that, just a “job” with all the ups and downs, conflicts, joys, disappointments, successes like all over jobs. When you can start thinking of every new opportunity to sing for someone as going to do your “job”, it helps alleviate the feeling of this moment being about them and us, or as if it is personal and emotional. It’s just your “job”. Say that word often, “I am going to do my job” and notice it doesn’t create all the angst and fear.
“Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” – Anonymous
All of my suggestions are nice to read, but if you don’t put them into practice it just remains words on a page. Having a singing career is learning how to tame the beast and do it with confidence and panache. You can want and wish with all you might, but if you don’t actually do something with a solid objective and purpose in mind, it remains just that, a wish and a want. It’s not a romantic life; it’s real and a job like all others. It requires you to dig deep and find that tenaciousness to reach your goal.
So Avanti and ciao until next time,
Don’t forget to keep in touch and if you have any questions or comments just shoot me an email. And don’t forget to get the 2nd edition of my book Aria Ready, The Business of Singing to help guide you on your way or to share with someone who is in need of a guide themselves. Thanks.