Sam met Judith at a party thrown by mutual friends at their apartment. She was interesting, smart, cute, challenging, and talented according to his friends and he felt he had known her all his life. She, he found out the next day from his friends, was interested in getting to know him better as well. Sam was doing well as a printing executive. Judith was working at a temp agency while starting her singing career. She was about to go out of town once again for a few weeks to do a role in some opera with the Fort Worth Opera Company. Sam really admired her commitment but knew nothing about opera. Judith knew nothing about the printing business but liked Sam’s sense of integrity and his wonderful sense of humor. They started a relationship via phone calls and emails. They found they had much in common with their upbringing and backgrounds. Both were from small mid-west towns, had siblings and were an aunt and uncle. Soon they started seeing each other exclusively and finally moved in together. Within the next year they were talking marriage. Both Judith and Sam had to go out of town on business trips quite often now, Judith being gone for longer periods of time than Sam. As the glow of being in love started waning and the reality of dealing with everyday issues became more prevalent both Sam and Judith started wondering if this was the best idea for them. They had a hard time juggling their careers, making time for each other, and then, tending to their families. How could they possibly make this work?
Sound familiar? Deciding to make a commitment to your career and your relationship can feel like a conundrum. How do you make it all work? Is it possible to do both? It seems overwhelming, like you have to make a choice. Is there a way to make it work?
“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fear.”
~ Glenn Clark
Yes is the answer. Here are some ideas to help you work through this type of situation.
1. Make the commitment to support each other and to work as a team. Often in today’s world because both parties have careers that need their full time energy and attention; they forget they are a team and need to work together as one to make the relationship work. You must make time for one another.
Talk about your dreams and long term goals such as owning a house, planning a serious vacation, putting a joint financial plan together, having children, growing one or the other careers on purpose so eventually both of you are supporting just one career. Your commitment to each other should also include sharing everyday household issues like paying bills, watering plants, keeping track of schedules, keeping food in the house, cooking, cleaning up, etc.
Try giving yourselves a half hour to an hour when you first get home from work to just leave everything else as is and sit with a cup of tea or glass of wine and each talk about your day at work. You will find that you have cleared your head and can be more present for whatever you are planning for the evening, even if it is work related. Your head and emotions will be clearer and you will have spent a half hour of quality time together. If you are meeting for dinner somewhere, take the first half hour to do the same thing. Don’t start eating dinner until you each have had a chance to summarize your work day. That will get it off your chest and heart and will then give you the time and energy to talk about other important and interesting things you have discovered, read about, heard or seen during the day.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ”
Another part of being a team player is to really listen to your partner. Really, just learn to listen. Don’t let your mind wander off to something you need to be doing tomorrow. That half hour or hour after the work day should be almost sacred and not missed even if it has to be done over the phone. Remember to listen to the message, not the emotion of what is being said. If one of you is more dramatic about your day’s story, allow it. It’s OK. It doesn’t mean you have to be too.
A couple of Don’ts. Don’t interrupt. Let your partner finish whatever it is they have to say. Don’t finish the other persons’ sentences. Don’t judge or criticize what they are saying — allow them to get it off their chest. If you are having trouble concentrating on what they are saying, simply listen to the sound of their voice. Communication is the key and half of that equation is learning to listen. This is a real skill that takes practice and will serve you well not only in your primary relationship, but in all your relationships – business and otherwise.
It’s important to really support and appreciate your partner and let them know that in ways that make sense to them not you. It’s really easy to say something like, “I really appreciate how difficult this time must be for you right now or how you must be feeling right now and I want to let you know I support you all the way. Is there anything I can do to help?” Say it even if it isn’t reciprocated. It will come back to you when you least expect I and in spades.
“All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Write down a team plan of action.
We tend to grow and change at approximately the same time if we are sharing the same path and long term goals with someone. That is true of any relationship. Sometimes we let friendships fade because we have nothing in common anymore. We never had a plan of action or commitment with those friends to stay on a similar path. You do have that with your partner and you need to strengthen it every day by acknowledging your long-term goals.
Here’s what I want you to try. Both of you get a piece of paper and start keeping a list of wishes, wants, must haves and desires you each want to create in you lives , in your future, that you want to work on jointly for “us” as a team. There doesn’t have to be any order to your list. Keep your list going for as long as it takes to get some really good ideas jotted down. Then sit down and together prioritize the items on each of your lists. As you start this process you may notice that there are several similar ideas between you. Believe it or not, you have just created a list of goals for your joint future. Now get a fresh piece of paper out, leaving space between my suggested headings and write down 10 years from now – 5 years from now – 3 years from now – 1 year from now. See where the prioritized items on your list fit into these time frames. What’s on the 10 year from now list? Will there be something on the 5, 3, and 1 year list to help support and move you both toward your that goal you have set for yourselves as a team in 10 years? If you just talk about it and don’t write it down, it won’t happen as fast. Writing it down seems to help keep us focused on what really matters in our lives.
As you do this, you will notice that you feel a stronger bond to your partner each day because you are in the process of creating a life for yourselves as a team. You will notice that your conversations often move to things you have thought of, read or seen that pertain to your long term and immediate goals as a team.
Schedule a time once a month to get those papers out and see where you are with making your goals into a reality. Do you need to make some adjustments? Remember that nothing is set in stone. It is just a map, not the territory you are working with. Don’t be afraid to make changes and adjustments. Do however, continue to work on this together and do write them down.
“I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”
~ Maya Angelou
3. Make time for a real date night or whole day together day at least once a month.
Creating a date night can be a really creative process. Take turns planning the dates. If it’s your turn to dream up the date, find something your partner has really been wanting to do, or is interested in. This could wind up being something you have little or no real interest in yourself. Keep in mind you are planning it for your partner, not for yourself. Your pleasure will partially come from knowing you have surprised and pleased your partner. It could be as simple as allowing your partner to sleep late on a weekend, doing brunch somewhere or cooking his/her favorite breakfast at home, taking a walk in the park, seeing a movie, etc. Or it could be something more extravagant like a real dress up night out with dinner and dancing or seeing a show or play. Maybe there is a lecture or something at one of the museums that would be interesting. Take the time to find out what your partner’s fantasy of a great date is. Then plan to make it happen. It’s an interesting challenge. Yes, you have to put yourself out, but you are a team after all and next month it’s your turn to be spoiled. If you want to help keep your relationship growing and healthy give it a try. It works!
4. Commit to your plan of action. You will find that a team plan of action minimizes the “crazy making” situations. It allows you to fall into a pattern that is beneficial for both of you. Just like your career, you have to work at your relationship and give it the time and attention it needs. Stick to your team plan of action, and you will always have an important connection to one another that leads you into the future. In the beginning of anyone’s career and relationship there are a lot of sacrifices to be made and bumps in the road to be worked out. Don’t take the easy way out by becoming complacent and start looking for quick fixes outside the relationship.
Having these strategies and tactics within your relationship will strengthen and help sustain and grow your personal and team goals and will strengthen your relationship as well, including the one with yourself.
“Some men dream of worthy accomplishments, while others stay awake and achieve them.”
Me – You
I believe that sometimes relationships/teams fall apart or are difficult because both parties are frustrated with not only their relationship, but with their own ability to move forward with any of their own personal goals, career or otherwise. You can’t blame your partner for taking too much of your time, energy and attention unless you yourself allow it. To me the problem almost always lies with not having a plan of action to carry out your goals. How can you be happy within yourself if you are just stumbling along, letting the wind blow you wherever it wants. You have to take charge of your life, really live your life, one moment at a time. It’s your life going by and if you don’t do something about it, someone or other circumstances will.
The next part of the plan is to each work on your own 5 year plan of action for each of your careers. Only this time you are going to write down where you want to be in your own career in 5 years. Then back it up with the steps that need to be taken 3 years out, 1 year out. Then move to 9 months, 6 months, 3 months, 1 month and from there it’s about each week and then each day of the week. What are you going to do each day to make your dream happen? You probably already have a “to do” list that you work on every day. It’s always better to write it down. Add just 2-3 items from your career plan of action that can be done today and put them on your every day “to do” list. By the end of the week you will see that you are moving toward your career goals and it isn’t so difficult.
Once each of you has completed your plan of action, sit and compare notes. See how you can support each other as you move toward your own career and personal goals. You might be surprised to find that there are many similarities along the way. This will also help you keep a better perspective as to what each partner is up against in their career challenges. It will give you each a better understanding and allow you to be more supportive because you know what your partner needs to get done for him/her to reach their goals.
“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.”
~ Tennessee Williams
This is your life going by so live and enjoy every moment of it. When you are 80 and you look back at your life, what do you want it to look, feel, and sound like? Will your memories be rich, all encompassing and satisfying? So I ask the question now, do you have it in you not only to work at a career, but work on your relationship as well? For me, it’s about learning to balance each aspect of my life as well as I can. But then all of life, music, performing, and our relationships with others and even the one with ourselves is about balance. It’s challenging but it makes you feel alive. So dare to really live your life fully each and every day. Be present and enjoy the journey.
“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure — the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on eart”
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
LOOKING FOR THAT PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT? Here are two great ideas to either give or ask for, for Christmas.
1. “ARIA READY” The Business of Singing, the book
– a complete, practical, step-by-step guide that shows the aspiring artist or young professional the critical action that needs to be taken to have a smoother transition as your career unfolds. It gives you the skills and tools necessary for moving from a student to professional singer. It helps you organize, prioritize and manage the essentials of your career. It lets you know what comes next and how to handle it. A must have! As Ken Benson, VP of CAMI and one of the most prestigious managers of today’s top artists says, “Not only was every aspect of developing a career as a singer covered in her book, but often in almost exactly the same ways as I would have presented it. Carol offers a wonderful balance of invaluable nitty-gritty information and a high regard for the great traditions of operatic performance. I believe that this book will make a substantial contribution toward making the difficult but rewarding career in opera a good deal easier for anyone interested in pursing a singing career.”
2. ARIA READY BOOTCAMP! SIGN UP NOW! Because this Bootcamp is in such demand, I have time for only one in NYC this next year. It is open to only 6 – 12 participants which means you each will have my full and personal attention. It’s intense, interactive, and fun. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Don’t forget, singing is a business, and requires more than knowing how to put a resume and PR Packet together.
Here’s what you get!
A PERSONAL BRAND & MISSION STATEMENT – every business has a product to sell. That product has a brand name and is backed by the company’s mission statement. You are the business, the product, and the brand. Getting that part right makes every other aspect of running your business a lot easier.
EXPANDED RAPPORT & COMMUNICATION SKILLS – Learn to communicate off stage as well as you do when you are performing. Get comfortable networking and schmoozing. It’s all part of having a successful career.
A PERSONALIZED PLAN OF ACTION – You might have goals, but if you don’t have a personalized plan of action to carry them out, it’s a no brainer that it going to be harder to make them happen.
BUSINESS STRATEGIES & TACTICS – put your new tools and skills to work for you as you learn to understand the action necessary to having a singing career.
“I absolutely LOVED this workshop. I learned so many functional tips to help me manage my career. I’ve often felt overwhelmed by all of the business aspects of singing but now feel prepared to take control of every aspect of my career. The first night was almost spiritual. We go to peer into our souls and those of our colleagues. It was obvious that you were passionate about your teachings and genuinely cared about each one of us. You are truly inspiring!”
Nicole Ameduri, Opera Institute, Boston University
This 12 hour Bootcamp will give you a clear understanding of what needs to be done and how to do it. It will get the singing career ball rolling. New York Opera Studio run by Carol and Nico Castel are the sponsors. You can sign now up by going www.newyorkoperastudio.org.
Here is the pertinent information.
Dates: February 4-5, 2006
Time: 10 am to 5:30 pm each day
Place: Joria Productions
– 260 W 36th Street, 3rd floor, NY 10018
Keep your comments, suggestions and observations coming. I love being in touch.