LET’S GET THERE…IN SMALLER STEPS
The pandemic has certainly changed the way we think of goal-setting and goal-meeting. I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could say that they conducted their life exactly as they would have pre-pandemic. Lofty ideas such as, “I will start a new business and have it up and running within a year” became “I will figure out a way to bring my goods/services to people who can no longer come to me directly, and hope I still have a business by the end of the year.” It was downright scary. Many people and businesses hoped they could just hang on to their job or business and keep it going in any form.
I know that we transformed Professional Voice Care Center, literally in one weekend, from a traditional in-person practice and studio, to the online center for voice and speech training. My assistant working remotely for the first time ever (my late assistant actually figured out how to computerize everything in one weekend…boy, do I miss her efficiency and smiling face ☹). And all this while I was so sick with Covid in March 2020; the same week as the lockdown began. My goals at the time were simple: focus on helping my clients remotely, and be alive the next morning. I didn’t think beyond that. I had to learn how to perfect telepractice, keep breathing, and think through Covid fog. There was no time or energy for any other goals; those were daunting enough.
What about goal-setting now? Out of the Korean Times comes a recent article by Kwak Yeon-soo, who said that “Korea’s Generation Z has abandoned the pleasure-seeking mentality of the Millennials”. Instead, they are seeking constant self-improvement. When the pandemic hit, many of these young adults were isolated and often unemployed. So, they turned to a Godsaeng (“God-life”), or a meaningful way of living. This was explained to mean finding purpose in small tasks and self-discipline. Even something as small as drinking plenty of water (I consider that huge, actually!) and practicing music or languages (also big in my book). Psychology professor Kwak Geum-joo said that because members of this generation feel they have no control over the big issues (e.g., climate change, the pandemic), they focus on small achievements within their grasp. Since there is so much focus on tech in Korea, they’ve even come up with apps and services that give rewards for progress in attaining these mini-goals. This boosts self-esteem, improves mood, and of course, helps with self-improvement.
So why can’t we apply this Godsaeng principle to our lives, and specifically, to voice care and training? For instance, today, I’m writing this blog, with the ultimate goal of including it in a bigger work, let’s say a newsletter or a course. If I can’t clean my entire house today (talk about the impossible dream!), I can certainly clean up some of the clutter on my desk. And although I’m not hanging out at the gym these days, I was able to race-walk forty long laps in my yard this morning, and lift some weights while I was at it.
Let’s see how this can work for voice. It might be unrealistic to say, “I’d like to have a career on Broadway in the next 6 months”, or “I’d like to master belting in the next two weeks”, or “I’d like to eliminate all vocal tension before the end of the month”.
Here are some simple mini-goals for voice care.
- Each day, I will drink an extra 2 oz. of water every time I brush my teeth. (If you could add 4 oz. of daily water intake each week for the next 2 months, you’ll be up a quart of water a day! And your body will hardly rebel at a couple of ounces extra here and there.)
- I will warm up my voice for 2 minutes 4x/day using high-quality voice therapy warm-ups. Associate these with daily activities such as two commutes, a shower or bath, and washing dishes. It’ll make those activities more fun anyway! (Then keep adding one more time a day, until you reach 8-10 mini-practice sessions daily.)
- I will stretch every morning, either while waking up, or in the shower. (That warm water feels good on those tight muscles).
- I will do laryngeal massage for 5 minutes a day while watching TV.
- I will be mindful of using abdominal breathing at least 2 times a day, using self-monitoring techniques like putting hands on the waist, or using a book on the abdomen when lying down at night.
- I will breathe steam or nebulized saline for 5 minutes a day while getting ready in the morning, or while doing chores in the kitchen.
- I will reduce or eliminate one food/beverage that triggers my reflux (i.e., carbonated beverages, French fries, etc.). It’s not everything, but it’s a start!
Once you’ve got some of these going, you can start creating similar mini-goals to improve the amount of sleep you get, your diet, fitness, etc. Maybe even use an app like Insight Timer to start meditating….for only 5 minutes a day to start. Even if we’re not ready to conquer the world, pick one little mini-conquest and have at it. You can do it, I’m sure! Wishing you many mini-successes 😊