5 Affirmations That Got Me Through Music School (and life in general)
When I started grad school, my life suddenly became extremely hectic.
I was commuting 1 ½ hours one way, teaching, working two jobs as a Graduate Assistant and as a part-time office pencil-pusher, going to school with 14-hour days, and having to relearn how to play my instrument after having not played for over 2 years.
To say that I was running on empty was an UNDERSTATEMENT.
I was struggling to keep my head above water and considered quitting more than once.
I knew that staying at the pace I was going would eventually leave me burned out (again), and I was determined to not let that happen.
So, I made some changes.
I quit my other part-time office job, so I could fully dedicate my energy to my music studies and practice and adopted some affirmations that I used DAILY to keep myself from getting too overwhelmed and anxious, and to keep working toward my goals.
These are little reminders you can give yourself wherever and whenever you need them to help you shift into a more positive and productive mindset, and lessen anxious and overwhelming thoughts.
1. MINIMAL EFFORT
One of the biggest epiphanies I’ve ever had was realizing that we only have 100% of ourselves to give in total. It’s literally impossible to give any more than that. We are told over and over again to give 110% to everything we do, but all that does is wear us down, and then we have nothing left over which can eventually lead to burn out.
What if, instead, you prioritized your energy––20% to this, 50% to that, 30% to this. Break it up however you need to.
This way of thinking gives you permission to not put everything you have into everything you do. It allows you to drop the perfectionist mentality and strive for something more reasonable, doable, and actionable. You end up being more productive because you’re using your energy efficiently.
So, ask yourself:
What’s the minimal amount of effort you can use and still get the job done well?
Is there an area where you can soften more in order to be more efficient with your energy?
I’ve used this in all areas of my life from my playing to minimize the tension in my body, so I could play as effortlessly as possible to better manage my workload.
It also gives me permission to NOT over-achieve, to ALLOW rather than force, and to actually ENJOY the chaos of the creative process instead of getting caught up in it.
2. A LITTLE BIT EVERY DAY
I tend to be a “big picture” kinda gal. It’s not hard for me to see an end goal and know I can get there. But it IS hard for me to see the actual process––all the tiny little steps along the way that actually get you to where you want to go.
Focusing just on the big picture can be overwhelming; there’s so much to do and never enough time. We need to be there, like, YESTERDAY.
But you’ll be surprised just how far you can get by doing just a little every day. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering! Just one or two steps toward your goal, no matter how small, every day.
Personally, I tend to throw myself into my work and think of nothing else until it’s done. But, that is not sustainable. In fact, it’s a sure-fire way to burn yourself out before you’ve hardly even begun.
Allowing yourself to do just a little every day guarantees that you’re making progress toward your goal without completely wearing yourself out. It gives you permission to not obsess over your work.
You’ll have more time for YOU and the things that recharge you AND make steady headway on your goals.
3. ONE THING AT A TIME
The idea of multi-tasking is a fallacy. You literally CAN’T do more than one thing at a time.
In reality, your brain is just switching quickly from one thing to the next. (Yes, really!)
The more you try to “multi-task” the faster your brain switches between thoughts which often ends up making you feel more anxious than it does productive.
You also can’t give quality, undivided attention to any task, and everything ends up taking much more energy, time, and, likely, frustration in the end.
So, instead, try giving your undivided attention to just ONE thing at a time.
Become HYPER-focused on that one thing. Set a timer if you have a lot to do and worry you won’t get to anything else. But during whatever allotted time you set, JUST DO THAT ONE THING.
If your mind starts thinking about other things, start a list and write them down to get them out of your head, but then come right back to the task at hand.
You can practice this by giving your undivided attention to everyday, menial tasks, like brushing your teeth or walking. Notice if your mind wonders as you do these things. Do you start thinking about your to-do list or your packed schedule? Or can you stay focused on the act of brushing your teeth?
I also like to use this concept during my flute practice with long-tone exercises. We often play through them mindlessly, so we can get to the good stuff quicker, but then we miss the whole point of them!
Try instead, to become hyper-aware of your sound and your body as you play them. You might be surprised as to what you discovered!
4. EVERYTHING WILL GET DONE
I’ll be brief on this one…
Yes. IT WILL. I promise.
And if it doesn’t, well then I guess it wasn’t meant to get done.
See, I figure, if you’re here then you’re probably a lot like me––you can’t NOT finish your work one way or the other because that’s how you’re wired. You ALWAYS get it done.
So, why even worry about it?
All worrying does is block your clarity and creative flow, which makes doing your work ten times harder than it should be.
If it’s important, IT WILL GET DONE.
Trust in that fact!
5. EVERYTHING IS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
As a kid, I missed out on so many opportunities because I was afraid to mess up. If I didn’t even try, I couldn’t make mistakes, right?
All that did for me was make me miss out on life––on LEARNING.
Think about this:
How boring would life be if you never learned? If you were born with all of the knowledge that you would ever possess, and just stayed stagnant for the rest of your life?
How boring would life be if we never made “mistakes?” If we were all “perfect?”
Pretty damn boring.
In fact, we might as well all just be big, gray blobs.
So what if instead of viewing “mistakes” as a lack of knowledge, we understood them for what they really are––opportunities to LEARN. To GROW.
Learning is the spice of life my friends! It’s what makes life exciting and interesting!
This concept was (and still is) CRUCIAL for me, especially when I started a freaking MASTERS DEGREE after not having played for 2 years…
If I didn’t learn to start seeing everything as a learning opportunity, I would have been swallowed up and spit back out.
Using this affirmation helped me to realize that it’s the thing you do “wrong”––the “mistakes”––that help you to become an expert. You end up learning so much MORE than you would have if you had done it flawlessly, and your knowledge becomes more well-rounded.
It gave me the courage to do more, perform more, and say “YES” to opportunities that would have otherwise scared me off. It also gave me chances to learn more about how I operate, how my anxiety manifests itself, and to practice managing it.
Out of all the other affirmations I’ve written about in this post, THIS is the one that has made the biggest impact in my life.
Do you have a favorite affirmation you use? Share below!
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