Break free from convention and unlock your highest artistic potential
As classical musicians, we are oftentimes so intensely focused on the improvement of our craft that we lose sight of what we are working so diligently toward.
To be honest, as a young musician my only goal - and for me, it was more of a vague, wispy dream rather than a technicolor reality I sought - was to play in an orchestra. And my only path to that goal was to practice. A Lot.
Maybe that’s been your experience, too? You are faithfully doing the next thing. Preparing for your lesson, memorizing your concerto, recording your excerpts, taking auditions… Because this is the path that thousands have walked before you, you trust that it will take you where [you think] you want to go.
Well, today we are going to elevate, my friend.
I want you to pull out a notebook and activate your imagination. I’m sharing an exercise that will help unlock your creativity and allow you to dream about a life that gives you artistic and personal satisfaction. The work you do today will be the fuel you use for when you fail, for when your motivation drops, and for when those voices of doubt rise up and try to keep you small.
I encourage you to Do The Work. I promise that it will bring purpose and direction to your life. You will feel energized with a burning fire in your belly. Truly, this work is So Fun and LIBERATING.
Release yourself from the Shoulds and the Oughts and what you have been told success is. There is only one YOU. And you get to carve out your own beautiful, unique path through this landscape of making music. No imitating. No boxes. Just a free, uninhibited vision of what your life could look like.
Exercise: Best Future Self
This is a 3-day exercise with very simple instructions.
1. Grab a notebook and pencil or a computer and a google doc.
2. Choose a future you - 5 years from now, 20 years from now, 40 years from now, whenever. You pick. I think the sweet spot is imagining yourself in 20 years, but you’ll find what works best for you.
3. Set a timer for 20 minutes and write. Write about who you imagine your best future self to be.
What do you love?
What kind of work are you investing your time in?
What are you creating?
Who are you serving?
Imagine the fullest, most mature, and satisfied version of yourself. What does that life look like?
Write from the perspective of your future self. “I am …,” “I have accomplished …,” “My kids’ names are … and they are … years old,” “I won a Grammy for my recording of Beethoven Sonatas 2 years ago.”
4. Repeat for at least 3 days total. Allow yourself the opportunity to imagine many futures, not just one. Maybe in one you win an orchestra job, maybe in another you become the Founder and Executive Director of an avant garde ensemble, and maybe in one you tour with a broadway show around the country. Who knows?
That’s it. Write for 20 minutes 3 days in a row about your Best Future Self.
The more specific you are, the better. No one will see this but you, so if you want to play in the Met, live in New York, and spend a month every summer in Italy, do it! Get into the details of what that life looks like. Do you walk to get a coffee on your way to rehearsal? What does your apartment look like? Or, if you want a college teaching job in a small town, a couple of kiddos, and to be part of a chamber group that records and tours, go for it! How many students do you have? What special projects do you do with your colleagues? Maybe you wrote a warm-up book? This exercise helps you unlock different futures for yourself to see what is the best fit.
Approach this playfully. A lot of us don’t have a clear vision for our future. That’s ok! So experiment with this, see what get’s your heart excited and resonates with your highest self. Writing for 20 minutes helps clear out the cobwebs and allows your brain to access this state of imagination. Even if you don’t know what to write (or don’t like what you’ve written!), keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. The vision will come.
There are no limits. Veer away from thinking HOW all this will come to pass. Yes, you’ve had failures and disappointments in the past, but do not allow those to influence your future vision. Be abundant, be gracious, be your own best cheerleader. Dream BIG.
Intentionally creating a vision for your future can easily be work we put on the back burner. We have concerts to prepare for, students to teach, and a personal life to live. Believe me, I get it.
Many people find that this kind of work is better done together with a life coach. With a coach, you set aside time to focus on you! You honor yourself by holding space for your dreams and your future.
If that sounds helpful, contact me through the link below and we’ll chat. You have invested countless hours in the practice room honing your skills. Why not take some time to maximize that work and develop a clear direction? I’m here for it.
Next Steps and Additional Resources
Here at The Musician's Mindset, we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.
First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!
Schedule your FREE 30 Minute Call with Katie. It’s free. It’s my pleasure. And it’s the first step to releasing stage fright once and for all.
Founder of The Musician's Mindset
Katie is a certified life coach dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.