"When I Win an Oscar..."
When I first got started scoring films I sent an email to one of my mentors ending with, “When I hold my thank you speech at the Oscars, I will remember to mention your name”.
He wrote back: “Is winning an Oscar on your goal list? If so, what do you hope to achieve with winning an Oscar? How will it change your life?”
This answer took me by surprise and made me truly consider what I wanted in my career, and what my reasons for wanting those things were.
So I want to ask you, what goals do you have for your career? Do you know where you want to head? Will you know when you arrive? If you don’t have any goals – how do you know which direction to go?
Yearly, right after Christmas, I sit down and review my short-term goals (the next year), my mid-term goals (the next 5 years), and my long-term goals (the next 10 years or more). I don’t think there is any magical reason to do this around Christmas or New Years. For me, that week is one of the few set aside each year with no commitments besides eating leftover Christmas cookies and goofing off with my in-laws. This change of pace helps me reflect on my goals.
I start by looking over the lists from last year to see what I can cross off. Then I reflect over whether or not I am heading the direction I was hoping. Are the things I am doing taking me closer to my goals? Further away? Is something getting left out? Finally, I add/change what is needed.
New Year’s resolutions fail because they aren’t followed up with action. On a weekly basis I go over my goals for the next month, next week, and next day – in that order. I look at monthly first so that I keep focused on the big picture in the middle of daily trivia. I keep a to do list with me at all times so that I can easily remind myself what needs to get done, add new things as they come up, and check things off. I try to do something daily to bring me closer to my goals.
“What are you willing to give up to have the career you want?” is another question I want to ask you to consider when setting your goals. There is always a price attached to progress. Knowing what you can leave behind is important.
Maybe you are in the studio when all your buddies are out partying. Maybe you don’t go on that trip you wanted so that you can spend the money on upgrading some piece of software. Maybe eating peanut butter sandwiches every lunch means you can afford to go to a conference and network. Point is, we have to make choices and sacrifices to pursue the goals we have set for ourselves.
My next question comes courtesy of my mentor. He asked “What would you be willing to give up career wise to keep your family?” The question took me by surprise, but it is important to consider. Where is your family, and where is your career, on your priority list? It is definitely possible to have both, but you have to work on it. Just like a piece of music doesn’t write itself, neither does the happiness of a family.
My viola professor touched this right after my first child was born. She told me to enjoy my children while they were small because one day they would grow up and move away – but music would always be there. Even if I ended up taking a break from music, it would still be there waiting when I had more time in the future. I have thought of those words often since then. When a smiling child asks me to pleeeeeeaaaaaassseeee play a board game with them. When they proudly come to show me something they drew or built. When they ask if they can sing me a song they just made up. Those times I try to remember my professor’s words, stop whatever I am doing, and focus on my child.
I have chosen to grow my career slower than I could have, so that I will have more time with the family now when the children are young. It is hard sometimes to balance family and career – but it is possible.
Your goals will change and evolve with time. That is OK. That is why you revisit your goals often, so that the steps you are taking today are helping you head the right direction.
I read a fitness post once that said something to the effect of "One lap around the sofa puts you ahead of the ones who are still sitting."
Do something today to get closer to your goals! One step at a time - that is all that is required to move forward.