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Getting Started

January sparks the creation of New Year’s resolutions, most of which are abandoned by February. When we do not achieve that which we set out to do, we are often left with feelings of personal failure and thoughts that demean our self-worth. Instead of I failed to do x, we mistakenly think, I am a failure. There is no problem with you are as a person. The issue lies in the path to the goal being undefined. We can recognize these large, amorphous tasks because they are usually preceded by the phrases “I should” or “I need to.”

Consider your desired result: Do you have a roadmap for how you can achieve it? As Mark Twain says, you need to break down large, multi-step projects into small, easily executable chunks.

Here is an example: I have been frequently thinking, I need to record some new arias for auditions and pre-screenings. I tell myself that I need to do this and there’s no surprise that it doesn’t magically happen. Though in my head I’m phrasing it as a simple task, there are hours and weeks of work that go into completing it. I am considering the end product, but I do not have the project broken down into small, individually executable tasks.

END GOAL: Record a new aria


  • Pick an aria

  • Practice the aria (pitches, rhythms, diction, translation, style and musicality)

  • Coach or rehearse the aria with my teacher and/or coach

  • Stage the aria for video recording

  • Refine and practice the staging

  • Find a pianist and email/call them

  • Decide if recording in person or singing along to a recorded piano track

  • Schedule a rehearsal with the pianist OR request edits to the recorded piano track

  • Schedule the recording OR block out time at home to record

  • Purchase or borrow recording and lighting equipment

  • Do your best in the recording session

  • Edit the recordings

  • Send recordings to trusted people for their honest feedback

  • Re-record integrating their feedback, OR

  • Post the recordings

When you fail to meet a goal or complete something you wanted to do, do not beat yourself up. You are not a failure, you simple failed at breaking down a large task into smaller bits. Consider the individual steps, write them down, organize them into an order in which they need to be completed, and get started on the first one. As you go along, add or remove steps as needed. Remember to be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.

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