Last week I had the pleasure of hosting my four-day mini-event, Thrive Fest ‘23: Planning for Optimal Impact, and we talked a lot about you can use this year to FINALLY launch some of your dream projects. A few of the things I kept hearing over and over were “I don’t know where to start. I’m terrified. I’m scared. I’ve been wanting to do this for so long, and I just keep putting it off. It’s never the right time. It’s been a dream for so long, it’s gathering dust.”
And it occurred to me how we often have these big goals and dream projects that on the one hand are so obviously brilliant and life-changing, and on the other hand, just get pushed off over and over until they eventually get filed away under “someday” in the shadow of our lives.
This was me 7 years ago. Freelancing in Boston. I had great work, great friends, a great condo. I was very happy with my life. BUT…..I also felt like there were things left undone. I felt like I had more to give, and I felt like I couldn’t give it from my current circumstances.
As cheesy as it is, I’ve always loved the analogy that change is like the bud of a flower. First, all is well. The bud forms, and there is magic brewing underneath, safe and sound–protected from the outside world. At some point, the pain and tightness of it all is too much, and the petals burst out for all the world to see. Rain be damned. And what a show it puts on when it opens! Color, beauty, a wonderful scent, providing pollen for the insects that allow food to grow, and enjoyment for everyone who witnesses it.
It’s exactly how I felt 7 years ago. In August of 2016. I had quit my full(ish) time job at a school and cut back my freelancing work to just 2 ensembles that I loved working with. I then spent FOUR years trying to figure things out on my own. I read every book, listened to every podcast, and tried to soak up as much information as I could. I worked with musician coaches who didn’t know much about business skills, and I worked with business coaches who didn’t know anything about the Arts. I spent countless hours and energy attempting to translate one to the other.
I did quite a lot over those four years–started this blog, learned how to book concerts and network a bit, got onto a few podcasts (mostly podcasts that my friends had started), and built a website.
It wasn’t until the late fall of 2019 that I found a coach who was equally at home talking about the arts and business skills. Finally! Someone who understood me. In that environment, with peers who were also musicians, I was able to really grow. No more having to translate everything. The program was more money than I had ever spent on anything but my wedding. In fact, it was almost as much as my wedding was (don’t worry, it was a small wedding!)
As difficult as it was for me to decide to spend that kind of money on myself for something that wasn’t even guaranteed, I took a deep breath, signed the contract, and sent in my deposit.
Most importantly though, the combination of pride in my work, my inner competitiveness, and the accountability of the group was what sped up the process.
Imagine if you had tried to learn your craft by yourself. Maybe you’re a writer and you decide you want to write a novel. You work, slowly, bit by bit. Maybe you intend to write the next chapter this week. Maybe you sketch out a few paragraphs of it and then put it off another week.
Now imagine you’re in a writing circle, and if you committed to reading the next chapter at next week’s meeting? You’re going to write the chapter.
For my musician friends here, remember studio class? You wouldn’t DARE show up unprepared in front of your peers. You’d practice a ton so that you could play your best.
But if you had just tried to learn an instrument on your own. Maybe you’ll practice this week, maybe you won’t. Who cares? No one is listening to you anyway.
So 2020 is when I hit my stride. I started the Virtual Summer Cello Festival. Then the Bridge Online Cello Studio started, and I also started taking on 1:1 clients. Then I started my 10-week “business for musicians” course, Profit Pivot, and it all took off from there.
I’ve rarely talked about the financial implications of all of this. Back in 2021, while most of my colleagues and friends had been out of work for months and were struggling. REALLY struggling–both financially and emotionally, it would have been completely tone-deaf of me to flaunt the fact that I had just had my highest earning year ever. And by a lot.
But I also wanted to get the message out that I could help them create projects that would do the same for them.
The courage it took to step out of my same-old, same-old routine brought the confidence I had been waiting for, the projects I took on brought more fulfillment and satisfaction than I had ever known, and slowly I began to shed the work that wasn’t bringing me as much satisfaction.
My life this year looks wildly different than it did in 2016 when I started on this road. For me, it so happens that I decided to leave my performance career behind, and now I have decided to leave my cello teaching behind. Both of those in order to focus on my writing and on my coaching. Helping my clients navigate that process of opening up and blossoming into their true potential means that new projects and programs are being created. New generations of artists, dancers, musicians, and writers are getting new opportunities to grow because of the work my clients are doing.
And I am able to create new projects of my own, I even have time to do the kind of volunteer work I’ve always wanted to do! I have been able to create the exact life I’ve always wanted for myself. Living in a warm, beautiful place on the water (Hello, Bermuda!) I have evenings and weekends free (because that’s what I want–not because that way is better!) and I have the flexibility to work from anywhere.
We are able to buy what we need, travel when and how we want, and take very good care of ourselves. No more stopping at a McDonald’s drive-through at 11 pm on my way home from a concert because I hadn’t had time to eat between the gazillion freelance jobs and teaching I had that day.
So I’m not here saying, Look at me! You, too, can quit your art, move to an island, start coaching, and become a bestselling author!
But what I am saying is: Look at me! I followed my gut. Put myself in the right environment with the right mentor and the right kind of support. Found some courage to actually start doing the things I had always wanted to do, and am now living my dream life.
Follow your gut. if your ideas keep coming back to you, keep tapping you on your shoulder, whispering in your ear “Hi there, are we doing this or what?” then that means they are GOOD IDEAS. Trust them.
Find the right environment. Maybe that’s my Creatives Leadership Academy, or maybe it’s a different program. Only you know. (psst. It’s probably CLA though 😉 Find it, and make the investment in yourself––you’ll soon be laughing at how quickly you recouped the money.
Flex your courage muscle. It feels just like diving off the high dive did the first time, I know, but it’ll be just as rewarding, and like that diving board, it gets easier (and more fun) every time you do it.
Start living your dream life.
Don’t leave it there in that dusty file cabinet of “Someday.”
P.S. Do you have an idea for a creative project, program, or large-scale event, that you’d love to get out into the world, but need some guidance, support, and accountability in order to make it actually happen? Let’s hop on a call and see if Creatives Leadership Academy would be a good fit for you. You can book a free, casual, 30-minute chat with me right here–but don’t delay, the doors to this year’s CLA enrollment will be ending soon!