Consider your general state of mind in relation to your career. Rate your optimism level when it comes to working on your career. Where would you say you are on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being demoralized and 10 being ecstatically motivated?
I’m asking because I’ve met a lot of musicians who are frustrated and defeatist in their attitude toward their careers. They complain about the profession, the competition, and their circumstances. And life being so unfair.
Of course, there are real difficulties that we all face. And we live in a time and world that’s far from ideal. But the question is, what are you choosing to make of it?
Are you resigned to the status quo or are you going to make change happen?
It’s easy to think that career issues are outside of our control. That it’s simply the competitive profession, supply and demand, or the economy at play.
But what if, as the terrific acting business coach Dallas Travers says, “The way you relate to the issue IS the issue.”
In other words, the way you relate to your career is the real opportunity for growth. You can either focus on what’s missing, what’s not working right, and what’s not being provided to you. Or you can focus on what you can do about it, what you have to offer, what possibilities you can discover.
The way you relate to the issue is how you choose to interpret the world — and what you’ve made any of it mean about yourself.
This calls for a mindset change.
And one way to get directly at it is to tune in to our emotions.
Last month Dallas Travers offered an excellent 5-day Acting Re-boot challenge to help actors re-energize their careers and get past the summer doldrums. I’m a big fan of Dallas and find that what she offers is just as relevant for musicians as it is for actors.
The first day of the challenge featured the concept of what Dallas calls your “compass feeling.” The idea is to choose a specific feeling to use as your set point—as though you’re setting your internal compass to the feeling you want to come back to repeatedly throughout the day. It can work like a touchstone, reminding you of the energy and approach you want to operate from.
This might seem a stretch because it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our emotions are dictated by what happens to us throughout the day—that we are simply at the mercy of how people treat us and what we experience. That we are victims of circumstance.
New flash: it’s not true.
While of course, we do respond to what’s around us, we are also completely capable of creating our own states of mind. Your state of mind determines the decisions you make, the actions you take, and the results you get. And YOU get to choose it.
If this seems a little too “woo-woo” for you, think about it. I know many musicians who hate to network and avoid making cold calls or reaching out to people. They’re shy, have had some awkward past experiences, and don’t want to come across as pushy. So they retreat and stay within their immediate circles.
What if instead one of these musicians came at networking from a place of openness? This might mean setting their ego aside and being interested in curious about other people.
Networking could then be seen as meeting potential new friends and mentors. This could have major repercussions not just in terms of how the musician felt in social and professional situations, but it might lead to future collaborations and work opportunities.
Change your mindset and you can change your life.
Dallas gave examples of compass feelings you might choose from but encouraged people to consider others as well. Her list included these favorites:
Just reading this list makes me feel more energized, knowing we can choose how we want to address the world, and how we want to treat ourselves and others.
Why not choose a feeling that you want to use as your compass feeling throughout the week?
Start with the compass feeling so you can check on your mindset periodically throughout the day. It can work well to set your watch or phone alarm for every two hours to dial back in to your compass feeling.
The idea is that the decisions you make throughout the day should be in accord with your chosen feeling.
For example, let’s say the feeling you choose is “empowered.” Think what that really means to you. “Try on” the feeling—step into your sense of empowerment. What does empowered mean to you?
For me, empowered means feeling capable and strong. That I’ve got a handle on what needs to be done and I’m up to the job. It means feeling like I’m on track and focused on what matters most.
Then think what actions you could you take today that are empowered.
These might include, sending the 3 booking inquiry emails you’ve been avoiding. Or it might be having the conversation with your partner you’ve been afraid to bring up. Or it might mean making an appointment with your financial planner to get a handle on things in advance of tex season.
Whatever feeling you choose, clarify what it means to you so you can dial in and take action from a place of positive energy. It may take a little “acting as if” to get you there. If needed, imagine what a musician with exemplifies your compass feeling would do in your situation.
We all have the power to choose how we want to relate to ourselves and to our world. And if we start from a positive feeling we’ve chosen to embody, then the decisions and actions that we take will be directly affected—along with the outcomes. Change your mindset and you’ll change your behavior and this will in tern change your future!
This week: Choose the compass feeling you want to dial into this week! (And thank you to Dallas Travers for the inspiration!)
Looking forward to hearing from you as always,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well!