This is what my desk looks like on December 22. I was trying to think of something to take a picture of, and saw this. It’s a good reason of why I should resolve to be better organized.
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They seem to always be very lofty, and without any plan of action. Loose weight, quit smoking, get X job, etc. All are great ideas, but how are you going to do it? Also, I try to look closely at how to make my life better on a daily basis.
Over the past several months I’ve learned the importance of assessing myself, and trying to take the actions necessary to improve areas of weakness. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s in music, life, or relationships. So this year, I decided to make New Year’s resolutions…sort of. Instead of coming up with the usual I tried to review my weakness and goals in both music and life, and find a course of action. I thought I’d share it with the world and explain my thinking. I doubt anyone else will find this interesting or useful, but I’m a lazy person. I need to hold myself accountable.
I strive for an integrated approach to my goals. All of them, rather in music or life, can only be achieved by overcoming flaws in my character. Most of them aren’t new. I wanted to achieve a lot of the same things over this past year or longer. What is it about myself that has held me back from achieving them? When I look over the list I realize the word that keeps popping is insecurity.
The first music goal I wrote down was, “Learn to play ‘in’ @ a level u want.” In my music studies, I feel like I learned to do a lot of stuff. However, because I studied a wide variety of topics I didn’t get as proficient at any one thing as I would have if I studied just it. The number one regret for me is not having gotten better at playing “jazz” in the traditional sense of the word. I just don’t have the vocabulary and repertoire to stand on as my friends who are committed straight ahead players. As the years have gone by I’ve moved into focusing on my own thing, and my ego and insecurity have held me back from doing the what is necessary to overcome that deficiency. For example, I’ve avoided straight ahead jam sessions out of fear of sounding bad. While I have developed a number of skills and idiosyncrasies that make me me, it’s time to fill in this hole in my ability.
It’s not enough for me to just to say, “I’m going to learn to do this.” I have to know how. Without a clear plan of action my goals never get accomplished. I have a tendency to think about something I want to do more than do it. So below that goal I listed what I’m going to do. I’m going to learn a ton of solos, learn a ton of tunes, practice soloing with a metronome, and suck it up and go to some straight ahead sessions.
Acknowledging what flaws in my personality I have to overcome to achieve a music goal has become a big deal to me. So I write them down. In the case of my wanting to get better at jazz it’s obviously insecurity and ego.
I don’t like to attach numbers to any of these things. I tend to overestimate myself, and set unrealistic goals. If I wrote how many solos and tunes I’m going to learn this year it would be in the hundreds. I would beat myself up when I fall short of that number and give up. It’s important for me to know that if I completely fall on my face today, tomorrow is another opportunity to try it again. A number of solos to transcribe (learn and write out….for my non musician friends), songs to learn, pounds to loose, etc. gives me an excuse to give up when I fail. Progress on goals are a just for today process.
In this way music goals are like many of my goals in my life as a whole. I want to start going to the gym regularly in 2017. I’m not going to attach a number to the pounds I want to loose, amount of muscle I want to gain, or even days a week I go. I would rather say, “I want to do this,” then address what’s keeping me from doing so. It’s many of the same things as getting better at jazz. I’m insecure about my body. I don’t want to be around a bunch of folks in great shape, and just be average. I don’t like looking dumb around people. I have no clue how to work out. All of these things just seem like excuses to me, but they are my feelings. I have to take them seriously.
The next step for me is to prioritize these goals. What should I look at working towards now? Again, I have a tendency to think more than do. If I try to spread my energy over the eight music goals and seven personal goals, nothing will get done. I plan to work on them one at a time. The ones that come the soonest should have the clearest plan of action The longer term ones I won’t worry too much about yet. But having them written helps me stay open to an opportunity to work towards them if life presents me with one.
We’ll see how all this goes. Now that I’ve put this into the internet my vanity and the three or so people I imagine reading this can help me stay accountable to reporting on my progress later in the upcoming year.