Often in my Entrepreneurship classes, students ask me if I’ve had 1 year, 3 year, 5 year plans for my business. My answer is absolutely…NOT! In a time where we are so focused on checking items off checklists, a goal-oriented way of life can be counterproductive and also detrimental to our mental health. When we set ourselves up solely for achievement (in the sense of achieving a goal), we are setting ourselves up to either succeed or fail. There is no middle ground. And when we only have the choices to succeed or fail, where does that leave us? In a cycle of ups and downs, highs and lows, and a mental state that is only satisfied when the goal is achieved.
Rather than setting goals, here are some more spiritual practices that you can implement to pay attention to where you are now:
Set INTENTIONS not GOALS.
What is the difference between the two? When you set an intention, you are putting a vibration out into the universe, a manifestation if you will. Here is a personal example (those who know me, know how much I love deer): When I knew I wanted to be surrounded by deer, I meditated on the thought and pictured what it could look like. I knew if it was supposed to happen, then it would..and it did. When setting a goal, it forces an either/or situation and a lot of stress to make sure that goal is achieved. And who needs more stress?
Focus on GROWTH rather than ACHIEVEMENT.
Realize how much you’ve grown as a musician and person rather than how much you’ve achieved on paper, and be grateful for that. This can be tricky, as we are taught to measure our worthiness by our accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, accomplishments are great and should be celebrated, but if we are just living from accomplishment to accomplishment, that does not allow us to be thinking in the present and being thankful for every moment, good or bad.
We are always exactly where we need to be.
Know that there is a force greater than you! This may sound esoteric but it’s true. The universe has a plan for all of us, and we must not fight or force it. There is always a much bigger picture than what is presented in front of us. Nothing ever happens by accident; the universe has a plan for all of us, and we need to trust in that.
Practice GRATITUDE as much and as often as possible.
Be grateful for every sound you are making. Love your bad sound days as much as your good sound days, if not more. There is no such thing as a good sound if there is not a bad sound. Even if you don’t want to practice, be grateful that you are able to have the gift of music and make a sound on the flute. Realize just how damn lucky you are to even be able to play the flute. I don’t always want to go running, especially if I am tired, but what keeps me going is by realizing how lucky I am to be able to run. Apply that to your playing and thought process, and you will notice things start to change.
Change your THINKING.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but negative thinking creeps up on all of us as musicians. Take, for example, the following two sentences:
- I’ve been freelancing for 10 years.
- I've been able to freelance for 10 years!
When you put negative thoughts into the universe, negative reactions will happen, and you're already defeating yourself. When you put out joyful and positive thoughts, positivity bounces right back. It's like smiling at someone; they will (hopefully) smile back.
I like to recommend Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. I've read it about five times. The only real time is now, not the past nor the future, and if we cannot be present, especially as artists, why are we doing this in the first place?