If we asked the audience of a classical music concert how they think the performer or the composer of the concert plans their year, most would definitely highlight freedom. Since music fills musicians’ everyday lives, we imagine spontaneous, rules-free, unplanned workdays with blessed chaos. How different the reality is! Juggling concert and rehearsal dates, balancing projects, teaching, learning, writing, administration, and also time for family, friends, and life. While naturally just an arbitrary date, the change of the calendar year is a good opportunity to review, evaluate and plan the previous and next year. In this article, we will look at why it is useful to start the year consciously as a musician.

Eszter Bodnár

1. You clearly see what you can influence

If we scroll through the news about the last year, or even just about the classical music world, there are many reasons to be sad: decreasing resources, fewer audiences, institutions in a more difficult situation, and too much pressure. Although we cannot separate ourselves from these situations, the annual evaluation allows us to see what we ourselves influence in our professional life. How many hours did you spend practicing, learning languages, and networking? Where did you get your inspiration from this year? How much do you browse scholarship opportunities? Do you have project ideas? Have you looked for partners? The good news: you have another 365 days to do everything you can.

2. It becomes clear how much you achieved in the previous year

A related issue is that our sense of time often deceives us, and we feel that we have made much less progress in the past year than we could have. The annual review helps us get a realistic picture of what we achieved in the last 365 days. If we look at all areas of our lives, we will see that much more has happened than meets the eye. Even if a small step didn’t matter at the time, looking back, it’s clear how it fit into the whole, what you learned from it, how you improved, whether it was a success or a failure.

3. You will see the priorities

Week after week, day after day, we are captive to our calendar: appointments, successive projects, often without a break. Often, because of our busy schedules, we don’t have time to think about where we are going. Year planning is a good opportunity to step back and think about what is important to us. Not for our boss, our colleagues, our family members, our teachers – for us. These can be the best annual goals, as they really motivate us.

4. You start the months, weeks, days with measurable goals

Once the annual plans are in place, breaking them down into concrete steps is easier. Would you like to organize a concert series with a new repertoire? Finish (and sell) a symphonic orchestra piece? What do you need to do in the coming months? The smaller steps are less scary than the big Plan, especially if you manage to define measurable and accountable points in the process (these are the so-called SMART or even SMARTER goals).

5. The power of habits

We know the story of the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, who wore the same black turtleneck every day so that he wouldn’t have to spend time thinking about his outfit for the day. Habits really help to reduce the number of decisions and bring us closer to our goal little by little. If you spend thirty minutes every morning learning Italian after getting up, it will become automatic, and by the end of the year, that libretto will certainly not be a problem. If you know that you always spend an hour on Saturday afternoon reviewing your invoices and contracts, you won’t even think about it the rest of the week (instead of in-depth practice or writing, for example). Such habits are easier to introduce at the beginning of the year, because the feeling of a clean slate helps.

+1 Believe it or not, you will enjoy the process

You don’t have to think about additional administrative hours that are Excel spreadsheets! During the evaluation of the past year, you can, for example, look through your Instagram and Facebook posts, and your photos – who wouldn’t want to recall beautiful moments? During planning, you can let your imagination run wild and dream about where you see yourself in one, five, even ten or twenty years (after which you can shape your dreams into carefully measurable goals). You can use year planners, you can come to our year planner consultation to get expert help with the process. The most important thing is that this is your unique, exceptional, great year, your life, which you can shape into whatever you want.