As a conservatory-trained classical musician, my entire life used to revolve around one thing: practicing the viola.
That was a good thing, too. Because in the hyper-competitive world of classical music, I was much more likely to succeed if I could out-practice and out-perform my colleagues.
And I don’t mean to brag, but I was really good at working hard. Even if it cost me.
I found creative ways to maximize my productivity. I set lofty goals and pursued them with a no-holds-barred tenacity that allowed me to regularly go beyond even my highest expectations.
Ultimately, I sailed through three degrees (including a Doctor of Musical Arts) before I turned 28…all while performing regularly as a soloist and professional orchestra member.
I was disciplined, I was organized, and I had an insatiable internal drive to succeed.
And for a while, everything seemed great! I performed a lot and earned some unique opportunities to play side-by-side with some of the world’s best musicians.
But there was a problem.
I could never relax. My relentless drive to succeed became an obsession. If I felt like I wasn’t improving fast enough, I felt miserable.
On holidays, instead of spending time with my family, I spent my time alone. Practicing.
I missed out on countless opportunities to enjoy life and connect with my loved ones. I prioritized my professional life above everything else. Worst of all, nothing I did made me feel any better.
Terror set in. What if I had to keep up my crazy all-practice-all-the-time schedule forever? Would I ever satisfy my need for success?
Even if I did succeed, would I find myself so worn-down and burnt-out that I’d never be able to enjoy the freedom that I had worked so hard for?
I knew that something had to change if I wanted to be happy.
Deep down, I hoped that I could turn things around. I had to find a way to break some of the seemingly unbreakable workaholic habits that had gotten me to this point.
I devoured books on mindfulness, I returned to my yoga and meditation practice, and I studied my habits. It didn’t take long for me to discover that many of the long-held beliefs that had gotten me to this point were actually sabotaging my joy and my long-term success.
So, I committed to live my life in a different way.
My perspective changed. I realized that I needed some semblance of balance if I wanted to realize my true potential. What was the point of striving for success if I could never enjoy the benefits of that success?
I let go of my destructive, anxiety-filled workaholic tendencies (most of them, anyway…).
And much to my surprise, I was actually able to get more done. All I had to do was stop getting in my own way and focus instead on what was most important to me. No more doing things only because other people expected them of me. No more busyness for the sake of busyness.
I felt happier. I was more present, more focused, more calm. My performance skyrocketed.
Undoubtedly, I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. But I’ve learned from every single one of them.
And now I know what I’m here to do. I’m here to teach, to guide, and to share. I’m here to listen. Most importantly, I’m here for you so that you too may live a more joyful, fulfilling life.