I am a hoarder of words. I love words. It doesn't matter what form they come in. Books, magazines, blogs, articles, podcasts, etc. If it's full of words, I want it. Bookstores can be black holes for me, where I disappear for hours, simultaneously elated at all the things I could read and learn, and depressed because there's no way I could consume it all. I love to learn, but I'm also afraid I'll miss something important, and so I keep hoarding words. If you don't hear from me for a few days or so, it's possible I've been crushed by a stack of books in my office and met my demise, so maybe check in on me on occasion. ;)
Most of us have heard of FOMO: the Fear Of Missing Out. I have to admit that the root of a lot of my gathering of words comes from FOMO. I spend a great deal of time combing through resources to find the best ones, or look to make sure there's not anything that I've missed. That last part is the hang up for me. It may come as a by-product of my doctoral research. It was emphasized so strongly that I had to make sure I didn't miss anything that was out there, in case my research could be proved invalid by somebody else's discovery, that I've become almost obsessive with searching for every possible thing that's out there. It's also rooted in perfectionism, but that's for another time.
I've come to realize that endlessly searching for all.the.things has increased my fear of missing out on something, rather than assuaging my anxiety by finding just the perfect fit for whatever I'm looking for. Because the search is never done. There are smart people out there that are making awesome new things all the time. I'll never be done looking, unless I make the choice to stop and just enjoy what I already have.
FOMO has even permeated my goal-setting systems. What if there's a better system out there and I'm missing it? It took me a solid year to decide on what system I would go with, and even while I'm happy with it and seeing progress in my own goals, I still wonder a lot if there's something better that's out there for me. Ugh. It's exhausting! And I don't want to keep thinking like that anymore. The truth is, I have a system right in front of me that works well, and I like it, and so I can enjoy it without feeling guilty or fearful about missing anything else.
I can be like that with my goals, too. (Are we getting too much into my head now??) I worry that the goals I set aren't the right ones, or that I could be working on better ones to move me down the road faster, etc., etc., etc. Instead of enjoying the journey right now, I'm worried I'm doing it wrong. UGH!
Last fall I had the pleasure of being on the launch team for a new book called The Joy of Missing Out: Live More By Doing Less by Tonya Dalton. The book does give a productivity and goal-setting system, but the basic premise is that we try to do too much, to keep up with some kind of standard that is not only unattainable, but ultimately harmful because it keeps us from living our lives the way we want. (You can read my review at the link below.) Our fear of missing out on something dictates what we think we should be doing, instead of focusing on the things that will really make us happy and fulfilled. Tonya writes that we can infuse more joy into our lives by intentionally choosing to do what we know will lead us to accomplishing our goals, and thus choose to miss out on anything else that won't add value. It's an idea I've tried to live out in these last few months, with varying degrees of success, because it's a new muscle for me.
Voice study can be this way, too. You may have spent your youth learning classical vocal technique, when all you really wanted to sing was rock and roll. Or maybe you've learned folk singing because that's what your mother sang, but you long to be able to delve into Puccini arias. What if you tossed out all the other things that don't move you toward your goals, and laser-focused on those things that will move you toward the voice that you want to have? In my studio, I give a great deal of autonomy to my students. It's your voice, after all! I'm just the guide. Sure, I've got plenty of ideas that will help you get there, but ultimately, I want to work myself out of a job so that you can be an independent, competent, and accomplished singer, whatever that looks like for you.
This week, take a look at your goals, both for your singing and for your life. Are there goals or tasks that are extraneous and won't move you toward your ultimate goals? Where can you cut things out that might help you to focus in better on your real dreams? Tell us about it! I hope you can find true joy in reaching for your goals, and enjoy the journey along the way.