Monday, July 16, 2012

One Month, One Path, GO!

Most people can think of someone they know who's known since they were a young kid what they wanted to do with their life. They talked about it, learned about it, ate, slept and breathed it, went to school for it, and are now living their dream.

That kind of certainty and laser-like focus is something that I truly envy – as it’s something that I certainly don’t have.

In my quest to find my path in life, I’ve been doing a lot of exploration, reading, learning, and soul-searching. I have a lot of irons, if not in the fire, then at least ready to go in once I decide to fire them up.

My irons of the moment include:

-    Music – singing, songwriting, playing violin, these are all in the mix here
-    Sound engineering – live mixing, recording
-    Helping my sister as she launches her own business
-    Creating and selling iPhone apps
-    Creating a line of unique multi-function accessories that work together in new ways
-    Consulting (on what? who knows)
-    Crafting/creating (what? who knows)

So on any given day, I could be scouring eLance for app developers, researching handbag prototypers, practicing for an audition, helping my sister create a customer survey, reading one of my many books on alternative careers and lifestyles, or something else entirely.

On the one hand, this all feels very scatterbrained, disorganized, chaotic, wishy-washy, non-committal, and frankly simply annoying to me. I hate to have anyone think any of these things about me – I don't want to be seen as flaky or flighty. So this kind of all-over-the-place learning feels a little…embarrassing to me.

But lately I’ve realized that there are benefits as well.

If I’m feeling stuck or unmotivated about learning in one area, I have a ton of others I can choose from. So rather than opting to just veg out on the couch with a movie and forget about that whole learning-and-growing-and-trying-to-find-my-life-path thing, I can redirect my focus and actually get something done that furthers some of my other goals.

Also, I’ve been taking Therese Schwenkler’s ecourse “Not Yer Mom’s Guide to Finding Your Career & Life Path” and love her analogy comparing trying to find a career to shopping for clothes. In her example, she finds a fabulous jacket online, orders it, and then hates how it looks on her when she actually receives it and tries it on. Her theory is that we need a dressing room to try on lots of things to find the perfect one, not just for clothes, and also for careers. Rather than scoping things out online and trying to think our way into the right career, why not try on a few and see how they fit and make us feel?

So that makes me feel like my multi-pronged approach isn’t crazy after all, it’s actually super-savvy (albeit unintentionally so).

HOWEVER (and it’s this kind of continual course-changing and self-refuting that causes my mom to lament that I would have been a great lawyer), I also wonder whether this random, all-over-the-map exploration is the most efficient way to use my time. I think it could easily be allowing me to shy away from having to make an actual decision and “try something on.”

It’s like I’m looking through racks of shirts one minute, then wandering over to look through the pants, then hopping over to accessories, before taking another look at shirts, then – hey, let’s look for shoes! – and now it’s back to pants, and then coats, and so on.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a ton of possibilities weighing my arms down, but I haven’t even made it to the dressing room yet, because I’m too busy exploring and searching – or maybe it’s more like hemming and hawing.

So what I’ve decided to do – hooray for non-wishy-washy, decisive action! – is to actually commit to something…at least for a short while. My plan is to devote ALL of my career-exploration time, energy and resources for one full month to ONE particular area. No bopping around and changing subjects or finding new paths to check out. One month, one path, go go GO!

This month’s explorations will focus on music. This is because I feel like it’s the primary passion in my life right now, and also because I have a lot going on in this area at the moment. I’m working towards my spring recital (yes I know it’s July – it’s a lot of work!), I have an audition next weekend, and in two weeks I’m taking an all-day songwriting workshop (which I’m SO excited about!).

So from July 15 to August 15, my mission will be to explore music and music alone – no app ideas, no handbag business ventures, nothing but music.

In addition to the audition and workshop, here are some ideas and thoughts for what I’ll be doing this month:

-    Attend open mic night at Milkboy Coffee (love this place!!) every Tuesday to hear new artists, get comfortable with the scene, and work up the nerve to do something myself
-    Buy my own mic and amp and start practicing singing with a mic, since that’s a whole different ballgame vs. singing without amplification
-    Reach out to a singer/songwriter that I really admire and interview her on her methods, techniques, experiences, etc.
-    Continue actively practicing my recital pieces every week
-    Contact upscale hotels in the area and find out which ones have live music in their lobby bars, and go visit at least one of them to hear the talent and get a feel for the music
-    Look for ways to find other aspiring musicians to get together and sing/play for fun
-    Take some beginner piano classes online
-    Get my violin fixed up, tuned up, and back in shape, and start playing again
-    Organize all my church music (ok, this one sounds lame, but I have STACKS of it and it’s all a mess. I’ve been meaning to organize it for over a year. I waste way too much time searching for things.)
-    Look into opportunities to volunteer as a chorus performer of some kind (e.g. in large-cast operas or community theater musicals)
-    Learn more about area community choruses and audition if possible
-    Work on learning one song on the ukulele
-    Commit to paper the music for two of my previously-written songs (all I have written down are the lyrics, no music)
-    Work with my daughter on starting to learn the drums (she is so excited to do this – I just ordered her drum sticks, a drum pad, and a teaching DVD last week. Her grand plan is that the whole family will learn different instruments and other skills and we will go out on tour as the Family Band. Her enthusiasm is infectious!)

I think that’s enough to keep my busy for the month! And I hope that some of these activities will lead me to more ideas and opportunities.

I’m certainly going to try to blog about this month’s explorations as regularly and often as possible, to help keep me accountable and on track, as well.

If you’ve read this far, you're amazing and I appreciate you more than I can say!! I promise my exploration updates this month will be briefer than this post. :)  Feel free to leave a comment below with your feedback or any ideas for anything else I should explore this month.


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