Another year has passed us by and a new one is just around the corner. It’s around this time that we reflect back over the past year’s goals, where we succeeded and fell short, and look towards the potential of the coming year. We all like to get the most out of life, but for some bizarre reason we have a habit of only planning our dreams and goals out once a year in a New Year’s Resolution. An estimated half of adult Americans make at least one New Year’s Resolution. So, why do we make them? We chase worthy pursuits such as “being happier”, “finding meaning and purpose” and “being our best self”.
Amazingly, studies have shown that only 8% of people actually reach their resolutions – meaning 92% of people FAIL completely. For dreams and goals that are supposedly keys to making us better versions of ourselves, why aren’t we keeping our New Year’s Resolutions?
TEDx speaker Austin Yoder has identified THREE INHERENT PROBLEMS WITH NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS that see the majority of them doomed to fail:
- They aren’t systematic
Often they’re poorly planned, illogical and disorganised and restricted to areas of your life in isolation. Life is complex, right? The different areas of our life don’t operate independently. Emotions are linked to finances, finances are linked to hobbies, hobbies are linked to health and so on and so on. We often don’t connect the dots and realise we may need to make changes in more than one area of our lives to achieve a certain ‘goal’ in another. Similarly when it comes to playing flute, and a specific goal such as playing a certain piece, you may need to sequentially address numerous different aspects of playing.
- There’s no mechanism for accountability.
If you’ve only got yourself to answer to, it’s incredibly easy to forget your resolutions as the busyness and distractions of everyday life take over. You’re an easy victim of your own negative thinking or low self-confidence, which can quickly sabotage your success. To have the best chance of succeeding you should have at least one person tracking your progress, pulling you up if you cheat, encouraging you during setbacks and most importantly celebrating your successes.
- They’re often a one way street.
I hate to say it but most New Year’s Resolutions are very self-focused. They don’t often reach beyond serving our own pursuit of ‘happiness’. A study of the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions of 2016/17, found only one was directly beneficial to others – spending more time with family. Your story, and all the little victories and setbacks along the way towards your own goals can have far-reaching impact. By sharing your narrative of personal transformation with people in your sphere of influence, you may disrupt their existing patterns of thinking, help them break free of the limitations they set themselves and have a positive impact on their well-being.
Leverage your own progress and successes to inspire change in others.
A survey of 2000 Americans last year found that learning a new hobby or skill (such as a musical instrument) was one of the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions made. A quarter of the respondents indicated setting a goal in this area. I’m assuming that increasing your mastery of some aspect of flute playing is high on your agenda for next year too.
So how can you beat the odds and avoid being in the 92% of resolution failures?
Follow these 4 FOOLPROOF STEPS TO FLUTE PLAYING SUCCESS
1. Take some time to break your life down into broad categories such as health, finance, family, hobbies etc. And then again into sub categories. (For example health could be further divided into diet, gym workouts, team sport. Flute playing could be broken down into practice time, scales, etudes, pieces, performances etc). Once it’s on paper in front of you – do you recognise areas of overlap or influence? To achieve your flute playing goals do you need to address health issues or make some changes to your financial spending habits?
2. For the relevant sub-categories, make your goals as specific as possible. Making vague, sweeping resolutions like ‘learn to play flute’ is too big. Break down this larger overall goal into bite-sized pieces. An example being – “Learn to play Happy Birthday to my Mum for her birthday in 6 weeks’ time”. Or “Learn three major scales (2 octaves) at 120 bpm within 2 months” As the great Mark Twain said “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one”
PRACTICAL TIP- Go one step even further and recognise the skills and techniques you may need to master to achieve these goals. It could be learning new notes, articulation patterns, or how to adjust your embouchure to play an octave higher. Approach learning these in a logical and organised sequence by joining a beginner flute course to build learning momentum and accelerate your progress.
3. Be accountable and put that list of goals somewhere prominent, where you will be reminded constantly. Put it on the fridge or on your bedroom ceiling so it’s the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see in the morning. Make it your background on your computer or smartphone. Next, send your goals to someone else, so they can be your accountability partner. Swap your goals with one another so you can help each other reach them. Set weekly and monthly mini-milestones and check in with each other regularly on the journey.
PRACTICAL TIP – Join The Flute Coach community. Find and follow me on Facebook here. Find a player mentor, ask questions and get answers. Use my Facebook page and other flute playing forums and groups online as your accountability partner.
4. Better yet – be brave. Share your goals for the year on your Facebook page, Instagram, or blog and commit to updating your friends and family with your progress. This could mean starting an online flute practice journal. Post what you plan on working on every week, and update with a quick video. Your progress encourages and motivates others. Soon you may be surprised to see you’ve gathered a group of loyal followers – eager to see your transformation, and maybe even using it as a blueprint for their own life-changing goals. It’ll also encourage you too. You’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. Once you reach each goal – because you’ve shared it, you’ll also enjoy a well-deserved public congratulations.
Committing to these New Year’s Resolution Solutions will be a turning point for your flute playing. By committing to step-wise training, joining an active community that learns together and sharing your journey to benefit others, I’m certain you won’t be the same player a year from now.