The 5 Questions I’m Asking Myself This Quarter


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.  


Here are 5 Questions I’m Asking Myself as I head into a New Quarter

(and why #5 is perhaps the most important) 



#1 What are the most important events happening? 

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. 

  • Philharmonic Fundraiser on April 27th
  • A Work trip to Boston in mid-May
  • Student performances on June 7, 14, and 21
  • Mozart Requiem on June 10th and 11th
  • Piano Festival performance of Shostakovich Sonata
  • CLA “Graduation” 
  • Philharmonic Summer Pops Concert on July 1st

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)


#2 What Personal Things are Important for me to do? 

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? 

  • Continue my current eating and exercise plan 
  • Maximize my fruit and vegetable garden (I try to harvest and eat something from it every day!) 
  • Make plans to meet up with friends at least 2x a week. 
  • Be better about staying in regular touch with long-distance friends
  • Plan our summer trips

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? 



#3 What Business/Career Goals Do I Have?

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: 

  • Increase our donor base for the Philharmonic, and get to know them better personally. 
  • Update the copy on my website
  • Re-organize the post tags and navigation for Tales From The Lane. 
  • Increase my mailing list by 10%
  • Add 2 new coaching slots to my schedule as free time opens up elsewhere. 

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.” 


#4 What are 3 Words That Describe This Current Quarter for Me? 

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: 

  • Growth
  • Streamline
  • “Finish Strong” 

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. 


#5 How Do I Want to Feel Throughout the Next 3 Months?

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?



P.S. Are you on The List yet? If you enjoyed this blog post and want more insider info on how to thrive as a creative, be sure you get on the list to receive my Friday “Weekend List.” Each one is loaded up with additional tips, tricks, and things to think about, including a new curated list of articles, books, podcasts, and things that I think you’d enjoy.  Click Here to Get the Weekend List! 

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