Time to move…

After maintaining several blogs for many years, I have decided that it is time to streamline my web presence. One blog is easier to maintain than many, and between being a mother to a 16 months old and running a coaching business, something’s got to give (or go); in this case, it is some of my blogs.

However, fret not – the content of this blog has been moved over to my main site http://www.singingsense.com, and I will still write posts related to life and business coaching for artists and creatives. However, since most of my clients are musicians, it seems to be fair enough to integrate these posts into my vocal coaching site. The Artist Sense Blog will still stay online, but there won’t be any new posts on here. Instead, you will find my musings over at http://www.singingsense.com.

My life and career coaching services for musicians, artists and creatives are still available. So if that’s what you are looking for, please get in touch.

I thank you all for following me through the years, and it would be lovely to see you “over there”.

Petra

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How writing your own eulogy can help you to reset your focus and to stop procrastinating

“Oh dear”, I can hear a few of you say, “is writing a eulogy, and on top of that my own, not a bit morbid?” (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

A bit strange maybe, yes. I would like you to consider two things though:

  1. If you were to write one today, what would you say about yourself?
  2. What would you like to have done with/during your life, and does what you actually did match up?

These questions very much go into the direction of : “Don’t postpone anything you really want to do to the future – there might be none”. They are obviously not about worrying what other people think of you (that’s why you are writing your own eulogy instead of someone else doing it for you).

And no, this is not some theoretical, textbook-advice coming from someone who cannot possibly understand what ties you down, and why your excuses are “valid”:

Only 8 years ago, I was leading a very comfortable life: Great career, big three-bedroom flat, no money worries to speak of. And I was unhappy, for a lot of reasons I won’t go into here.

Only one year later, I had sold, or given away, almost all contents of my flat (a few things of sentimental value aside) and moved to a foreign country. I had next to no contacts and was scared stiff as to whether the professional U-turn I was dreaming of would pan out. It did in the end, because I believed in it and wanted to make it work (and therefore worked hard for it), but it would be dishonest not to admit that the first year was incredibly difficult.

Crazy? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely…

… for the very reason that I had arrived at a point I had always dreaded: No real family life, and completely trapped in a career that many people dream of, but I totally hated. Still, being “comfortable” must surely count for something, so the prospect of starting fresh was very scary, especially with no real safety-net to think of. Of course I was worried I was just going through some strange phase, and that I might come to regret my decisions some time down the line.

Today, I can honestly tell you it was the best thing I have ever done. It showed me the value of not postponing decisions anymore, even if some of them were scary and painful. It also showed me that if our gut tells us something is wrong, it usually is – no matter how much we try to justify it. These thoughts played a big part in going for it, all insecurities and hardships aside.

Truth is: Life is never secure, no matter how much we might think it is, and how much the prospect of giving up security scares us. Security is an illusion. I have met more than one person (close family members included) who had dreams, or wanted to change things, but did nothing apart from endlessly talking about them. Some of them are not with us anymore…

This is where I come back to writing your eulogy. The reason it is a eulogy, and not just a letter or journal entry, is that the thought of “no tomorrow” will make you look at things very differently: It brings them into focus and makes them more real than just thinking: “Yes, there is this dream/idea, but I have the rest of my life to go for it”. If you feel your eulogy is a bit boring (and this is not judgemental – different things are “boring” to different people), or even shows a downright unhappy, unfulfilled person, it is probably about time to make some changes.

If there is little to no time left (and let’s not forget: This is a possibility for all of us), you don’t waste it on things that make you unhappy.

© Petra Raspel 2013

Christmas and New Year – a personal reflection

This year, I actually purposefully decided to write a blog about what Christmas and the New Year mean to me, instead of sending out carefully crafted business newsletters like I used to. This is also the first year for me to have set all business email accounts to “out of office”, because I sometimes find it hard to switch off during the holidays – not just because I am self-employed, but also because I really love what I do, and the lines between private life and “business” can become very blurred when working creatively.

Today, a lot of people are still rallying around to get the last Christmas presents, or to buy the food they will be preparing for their families. TV, papers (and my email inbox) are already full with “sales” messages. It all feels more stressful and commercialised than anything else.
I have pretty much withdrawn myself from all of this this year, because Christmas has a slightly different meaning to me since I lost my mother to cancer in February 2009 – long before her time (she was only 59). This time of year is difficult – simply because it reminds me of the times I used to spend with her. I have to say that the good memories now start to take over, and the pain of losing her isn’t that raw anymore. Still, the way you perceive Christmas really changes after you lost a loved one. Christmas and the New Year are now a time of reflection for me. I am not a very religious person, but traditionally, we probably all think about what lies behind us, and what lies ahead, when the year comes to an end.

If I look back on 2012, I learned a lot about my health. I learned to say “no” because of it, even if it sometimes felt difficult. I learned to trust my inner instincts when it comes to “filling the well”, instead of keeping on doing the things that drain it. I stopped making other people’s agendas my own, and I only do what I really want to do. I invested back into professional development – a thing I always did, but during 2012, more than usual, especially in the department of working “on myself”. I went back to University to study something I feel very passionate about, and I am excited about the opportunities it presents me with.

If I could put in a nutshell what Christmas and the New Year mean to me, a few thoughts immediately spring to mind:

  • The most important thing is to spend time with my loved ones, because I had to learn the hard way that none of us are going to be around forever.
  • I allow myself to switch off during the holidays, despite being self-employed. I also stopped having a bad conscience about it.
  • I came to understand that I usually do better if I trust my instincts and only do what I feel passionate about, not what I think other people expect of me. I also believe it is something that translates into everything, from personal to business relationships.

I hope that you can spend some quiet time to reflect on your goals for 2013, and that you find the courage to take the necessary steps for your own creative journey. And this is where I switch off for the rest of the year and wish you all a very happy Christmas, and a great start into 2013!