*Updated August 2021*
I wonder if you feel like I do about the new year? I gave up on making resolutions years ago and goalsetting is an elusive fish whose tail I’m still trying to grab! And yet, the turnover of the calendar year brings with it an opportunity for reflection and intentionality that is inescapable.
To me, it feels a bit like pressing the “RESET” button on a piece of equipment. Not the reboot-your-computer kind of reset where you’re just starting again. Nor the return-to-factory-settings kind of reset where you wipe all your customisations and go back to the beginning.
I mean the kind of RESET where you take stock, clear the decks, and realise that you have the opportunity to make new choices, better choices. Choices that fulfil the wise mandate to “love your neighbour as yourself”. Balancing choices that nurture us AND our community. Choices that permit us to honour the voice within.
For me, the refreshing thought coming into 2019 is that I can press that RESET button as many times as I like throughout the year. It is within my grasp to have the reflective moments afforded by New Year’s Eve every day or week or month or season. I can make time during the year to take advantage of this feeling of natural momentum. Pause, reflect and take a glance backwards. Dream, hope and lift my gaze forwards.
So, what does this mean for you and your singing? What kind of RESET is your singing and speaking voice looking for? Here are some tools that might work for you or inspire other ideas to try. There are no rules, only possibilities. And these are free to be used as often as you like.
Taking dedicated time to allow yourself to look back is very useful. You don’t need to replay the entire year moment by moment, but a general look at the big themes of the last day, week, month, season or year can be quite illuminating. Be warned – you should limit how long you spend looking backwards. I once heard Tim Hanna, CEO of Compassion Australia, say that there is a very good reason the rear-view mirror in the car is the size that it is, in comparison with the size of the windscreen. We are better off spending most of our time looking forward.
An annual reflection designed by Productive Flourishing poses these useful questions as a starting place:
- What 3 things are you the most proud of?
- What 3 things most challenged you?
- What have been your top 3 lessons learned or reaffirmed?
- What are your top 3 goals for next year?
- What needs to change for you to achieve those goals?
- What experiments could you run to help you achieve those goals?
It’s commonly understood that expecting ourselves to change too much too quickly will end in disappointment. So pick one thing, give it full and factual consideration, and chart a course of small changes that you will be proud of and satisfied by.
Choose a theme
Sometimes I choose an idea or value that I want to incorporate into my life and my singing and find ways to remind myself of it frequently. It can be fascinating to observe the way such a concept can work its way, ripple-effect, throughout various areas of your life.
Know when to let go
Sometimes the change you try isn’t quite right. Knowing when to let go is a mark of growth and development. But rather than abandoning the intention altogether, try the RESET button again, and consider what didn’t work about your plan.
Did you expect too much from yourself? Underestimate how long it would take? Need to break the steps down more specifically? For example, the goal of learning 2 new songs a week might be unachievable. So, modifying that goal into song-learning-phases is useful. Then you can be satisfied that you progressed two songs from one phase to the next.
So, you want to try some fair dinkum goal setting? A recent podcast from Musical U in the UK proposed a fresh way to think about goalsetting for ear training. I think it can be adapted to any musical area.
M – Musical – Does this goal feel as fun and exciting as music is?
A – Attainable – Can I really see myself achieving this goal in a reasonable amount of time?
G – Growth-oriented – Will reaching this goal help me grow into the kind of musician I dream of being?
I – Interesting – Am I actually interested in reaching this goal?
C – Clear – Is my goal clear enough that I will know with certainty whether I’ve reached it yet or not?
Physical and Playing Condition Health Check
Physical Condition Health Check:
- Alignment & musculoskeletal wellbeing
- Upper respiratory tract health (including asthma & allergy management)
- Vocal fold health, strength and agility (including register balance)
- Articulator tension (especially tongue and jaw)
- Range access (have you stopped exercising your whole voice?)
- Speech fundamental (are you speaking too high or low?)
- Medications, overall health and environment
Playing Condition Health Check:
- Breath function (including vibrato pointers)
- Register coordination
- Clean tone
Well, if you’re still reading, you will have made it through to the end of my first ever (longer-than-I-intended) blog. Blogging has been an activity on my list of things to try for a very long time. Changing my goal from “be an amazing writer before you start” to “just have a go and figure it out along the way” is my first RESET for the year. I wonder what my next one will be?
*Update…Reset (Part 2) was published in 2021 to supplement this blog.
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Productive Flourishing: https://www.productiveflourishing.com/wp-content/uploads/member-access/annualBusReflection.pdf