Goals, Timelines, Anxiety!

Sunday musings...

Goals and timelines...are they serving you,  or are they causing you to eat all the carbs and do a Buffy marathon on Netflix?

I am very goal-oriented,  but I have learned how to pivot this so anxiety and self-doubt and frankly, self-sabotage,  aren't over-taking everything and completely de-railing me. 

You see?  I see you!  Why?  Because I do it too.  So, let's do a tangible,  action-oriented exercise together.  I am going to do it too,  because it's a necessary re-visit regularly.

So,  my first question is:  what are your goals?  In your career,  in your craft,  in your day to day life, in your personal development,  in your "if I could, I would" part of your sphere.  

Write that shit down.  Seriously!  DO it.  Yes, this can be scary,  but once you journal it,  you may be amazed at how it makes you feel.

Now,  start with a simple yes/no response to each thing:  are you actually in control of that outcome or is someone/something else?  Yes,  I am.  No,  I am not.  Don't make it more complicated.  

Why?  Cause we complicate things.  We get in our own way.  We often create anxiety where there really isn't any,  but because,  are you ready?,  we look at anxiety as something we recognize,  we gravitate toward it, and create it, simply because if feels familiar.


Look at your goals,  or contemplate some of your goals.  Do you have an expiry date on any of them?  Cause I know some of you have.  It starts with "if I haven't done XYZ by {insert date/age here} then I have to rethink what I am doing"  - create that sentence how you want.  You know you've done it.  

What does that do?  Creates anxiety,  creates a frame for sabotage,  creates an atmosphere of self-loathing,  and panic and desperation.

Is that really how you want to live?  How can you create and live a life of artistic integrity if you are in panic mode all the time?

My answers are generally another question:  who says you have to do anything by this time?  Why are you limiting yourself like that?  Who told you that you had to?  Why did they say that?  Who has walked your path already to be able to firmly respond with absolutes before you have taken on your life?

If you have given yourself an expiry date,  then you have pretty much set yourself up for failure.   That's not to say you can't have a TIMELINE.  That's not the same thing.  When you begin a goal with "If I haven't done/achieved XYZ BY THIS TIME"  then you simply won't.  

What that might reveal about how you function,  is that you need structure and definition, so create a structure of being ready for the goal without the expiry date.  

You also have to really be true to your profession.  In opera and theatre,  there are many more out there hitting the pavement than there are jobs.  That means, a very very few percent actually make a living doing ONLY performance.  It's okay to have a side hustle.  It's okay to have more than one!  

As you contemplate and revise your goals,  in all areas of your life:  focus on the area that gives you less anxiety.  Stay with me,  as I know it might feel counter-intuitive.  I know you're thinking, "yeah, but Susan, I AM NOT WORKING IN MY FIELD,  shouldn't that be what I focus on?!?!"


Why?  Because your anxiety is currently larger than your goal and it will color your view in a way that makes everything blurry and askew.

What would you like to do, for YOU?  A new hobby?  Learn a new language?  Read more books?  Take a class that has nothing to do with business and more to do with interest?

Start there.  Explore where that takes you.  Don't add more anxiety!  If you decide a goal is to read more books this year - guess what?  That's a big picture goal AND timeline!  Don't suddenly say  "I wanna read more and I am so behind, so I think I will read a book a day starting today".  It's not going to happen.  Why?  Too much detail without a large picture outline.

See where I'm going with this?

When you start to feel anxiety,  step back.  You are too close.  You are trying to create detail you are not in control of,  cannot predict, and cannot affect the outcome of.

Blink your eyes,  step back from the canvas, and see the FULL picture again.  YOUR picture.  

Do not impose upon the big picture of you.   Breathe it in.  Let it settle and create FOR you, not against you.  There are no absolutes,  only possibilities.  Those possibilities lead to choices.  Those choices lead to decisions,  those decisions then have consequences that we make more choices from.

Your big picture is crucial.  Don't lose sight of it.  Once you have it clearly outlined, then the details are welcome,  and exciting,  and will energize you!




Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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