Do you think of each year in Quarters?
It’s a very corporate framework, for sure, and doesn’t always jive perfectly with the artist or performer’s calendar (I mean, unless you have to pay quarterly taxes-blech). We usually start things up just after Labor Day (with 1 month inconveniently left in Q3) but Jan-March (Q1) does tend to have a vibe, as does April-June (Q2). For most of us, the “regular” season ends around then, and teaching certainly does. July and August (Q4) we’re off doing summer things: Festivals, performing in different venues, traveling, etc.
After a lifetime of working from the point of view that it was either “The Regular Concert Season” i.e. September-June or it was “The Summer Season” July and August, I started breaking things down a bit more into quarters over the last few years. I’m a fan, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
I find it enormously helpful to look closely at 3 months at a time, rather than an entire year, or worse, just the week (or the day!) ahead. Last summer, I started doing a Stay-at-home retreat at the beginning of each quarter, and I thought I would share the questions I am asking myself at the beginning of this quarter.
This can be anything from a performance, a big trip, an important deadline, or a big social event. Anything that is outside of my normal routine. I also include anything that is happening in the 1st week or 2 of Q3, since the prep work will need to happen in Q2. Here’s my list.
Next, I make sure these dates are all in my calendar, and that I have reverse-engineered the deadlines along the way ( and rehearsals, meetings, travel accommodations, etc)
It’s so easy for me to just keep my head down and dive into work. From one project to the next, focusing on my clients and students. Before I know it, it’s been 6 months, and I haven’t accomplished any of those seemingly optional things like, oh, seeing friends, reading non-work related books, or taking care of myself. That was old Kate, anyway. These days, I try to be much more intentional about it, and these quarterly check-ins really help with that.
Some of the things on my list for Q2?
Things like these can easily be tracked, and I’ll add them to my weekly stats that I check every Friday. How many times did I get to the gym? What did I harvest from the garden? How many friends did I speak with?
I used to be one of those people that just waited for the proverbial phone to ring. At some point, I started asking myself what I wanted to be doing, and then at some later point, I started figuring out how to make those things happen.
It’s one thing, however, to write down in early September, “I want to do X by the end of the season” and it’s quite another to say “Over the next 3 months, this is how I want to move closer to doing X” Smaller goals, with shorter timeframes have a higher success rate than having 1 BIG goal, with a due date far in the future.
This is what I came up with for the next 3 months:
These are all things that are definitely doable over the next 10-12 weeks, but will also require me to focus on them and take weekly action to meet those goals. There’s no “I’ll get to it later.”
Now, I don’t have a crystal ball, and obviously, as we’ve all learned, things can change in an instant. And if and when they do, we can adjust things. But looking over the events I have coming up, and the personal and career goals I have set out for myself, I came up with:
Growing the philharmonic community, my email list, my gardens, my personal network, and my reach.
Streamlining processes, systems, my schedule, and work duties (more on that later…)
“Finishing Strong” for my CLA members as they launch their incredible projects into this summer, my cello students as they head into their end-of-year recitals and as I finish up what will have been my first full concert season of the Philharmonic as board president/artistic director.
As I said, this is the Key Question for me. The answer changes with every quarter and can range from Bold to Courageous, to Quiet, to Rested. It depends on what I have going on, what I’m coming out of, and what I want to focus on at the time.
For this quarter, I have a lot of different types of things going on–many of which are going to require a lot of time, effort, and stamina. With full to-do lists each day, and quite a few late rehearsal and performance evenings, I still need to make sure I get to the gym or the yoga mat in the mornings. So my word?
So getting sleep, drinking more water (I am THE WORST), and eating nutritious food that will keep me going through long days. That is my word. If I can make sure that I am feeling energized, I know that the 4 lists above will all happen the way I want them to.
I hope that you find this helpful. Both the 5 questions and my examples. It feels a little (okay, very) weird to be putting my innermost thoughts and personal goals out there for the world to see, but I always find it helpful when others do it for me.
Give it a try, and let me know how it goes for you. What other questions you would add?
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