Oh yeah, it’s that time of year again – 28 DAYS TO DIVA! Are you ready, willing, and able to perform the tasks set before you? Did you devour all 29 of last year’s posts? Did you evaluate your progress like I did in yesterday’s The 29 Days Recap? Good! With all of that information fresh in your mind you will be more than ready to complete the Day 1 challenge: Declare Your Intentions and Follow Through.
Understanding what factors determine whether singers succeed or fail to achieve their goals is useful information for all of us. Most self-help books tell us that we only have to create the goal or vision (hello, vision boards…) and suddenly all the doors to success will be wide open. But, if we take a moment, there’s also a reason “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is such a popular phrase. Every January we are poked, prodded, and goaded by every media outlet to make a mountain of New Year resolutions. This is the year in which I’m going to lose weight. This is the year in which I’ll get a better-paying job. This is the year in which I will organize my entire house. This.is.the.year.for.all.the.things. Whoa. It is important to first set reasonable goals for ourselves. Then, we must set-up “if-then” plans to truly see the payoff of setting those goals. German Professor of Psychology, Peter Gollwitzer, “proposed that successful goal achievement is facilitated by a second act of willing that furnishes the goal intention with an if-then plan specifying when, where, and how the person will instigate responses that promote goal realization. These plans are termed implementation intentions.”¹
The first part of today’s challenge may actually be trickier for those of us who like to keep things very private. By declaring your intentions, I do not mean only unto yourself. I mean you need to tell someone. Perhaps someone on your “singing team“? Think about a specific goal you want to achieve and tell it to someone who will be caring with that information but will also hold you accountable. If you blog, tell your readers. Tell your social media friends for an extra challenge. Nothing lights a fire so much as telling the world about a big dream you have. If you are more of a visual person, go ahead and make that vision board and put it in your practice studio. Or for an online version, make a Pinterest board (and link to it in the comments below.) What big goals will you be mulling over while participating in 28 Days to Diva?
Now that you have your goals in mind, you can start to identify the possible pitfalls or obstacles that might hinder your progress. This is where our implementation intentions are going to help. The evidence suggests that by adding this second step to declaring our goals we are more able to identify situational cues and then cause an automatic intended response to happen.² For an online example, let’s look at the popular website IFTTT. IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement:
They have recipes that include: “save starred gmails to evernote” and “YouTube favorite to Google Drive” and many more. What kinds of if-then situations could we set up for singing? If you receive an audition notification email then add a calendar event, for example. Or try, if I like a SoundCloud track then download that track to Dropbox “repertoire suggestions.” While IFTTT is a nice service to automate certain parts of your life, challenge yourself to think about creating if-then situations on a bigger scale. If I do not have rehearsal tonight, then I will practice new repertoire instead. If I did not advance in the competition, then I will set up another session with my coach. If I get an audition, then I will send follow-up thank you notes. You know your goals and chances are that you are subconsciously (or consciously) aware of what is getting in the way of your progress. Declare your intentions and discover how implementation intentions can help you get there faster.
I have discovered that 28 Days to Diva is like yoga practice. You determine how hard or easy you will be on yourself. Declaring your intentions may seem like no big deal for certain people. If so, are you being honest about your true goals? Take these 28 days and really discover where you feel confident and where you see a need for improvement.