Recently, I was working on a personal project in a group coaching session, and my coach shared that whatever it is that we do, every single task in the world — the task itself has no inherent worth.
Examples of tasks: Make a painting, compose a song, write a book, cook a dish, reply your emails, shave your legs, brush your teeth, take a shower…
All of these are nothing more than items we put on our to-do list, to be checked off when completed. (A bucket-list is basically a list of tasks, too, by the way.)
What makes the difference is the VALUE we decide to attach to these various tasks — the WHY we do them, and what makes them important to us.
This is something only you can create for yourself, and nobody else can tell you or decide for you what your WHY should be.
For example: brushing your teeth — Why do you do it?
If you had responsible parents, they would have constantly reminded you from a young age to brush your teeth before bed until it became a habit. When you’re a grown-up and free to do whatever you want, why do you still brush your teeth? Is it only because it’s become a habit? Is it because your parents said so? Or is it because you’ve decided that your oral hygiene is important to you, thus you continue to create that value for yourself in doing this task?
The value we attach to each task is what we’re ultimately intending to gain from the process, what keeps us going on our journey, and what helps see us through to the end, which is far more than simply checking off a to-do list.
Without being clear of our WHY, the WHAT — the tasks we do — are meaningless.
And your WHY is unique only to you.
In the context of singing, expression and our voice, you may be doing the same vocal exercises as others, but your reasons for doing them and the value you want to get won’t be the same.
Thus with each of my clients, we’d always begin by having a chat around the following:
Why do you want to take up singing lessons / voice coaching?
What exactly do you want to improve?
What’s the specific outcome you’re hoping to get?
This is such an essential part of the process, because if we don’t identify what your desired outcome is, what the value is for you, then it will be much harder for you to stay on track in this journey.
Yes, this is a journey that you’ve embarked on, and it’s an ongoing process!
Improving your voice and expression doesn’t only happen during the session(s) with your vocal coach. Sometimes you may hear an instant improvement in your voice, but unless you continue working on the voice exercises consistently, these changes you hear won’t last.
This is because we’ve been speaking a certain way for most of our lives, and it’s not realistic to expect that after practicing some voice exercises for a short time, our voice will magically retain its new qualities without proper ongoing maintenance.
At the same time, progress in developing our voice and expression isn’t something we can chart and track on a daily basis, and expect to see improvement on a linear scale.
The voice is a rather temperamental instrument, and when you’re consistent about your vocal practice, it will adjust and calibrate itself from day to day. Depending on various factors in our external and internal environments, some days you will sound amazing, and some days you’ll cringe when you hear yourself.
Without this understanding, the process of consistent practice can appear to be ineffective, and you may start wondering, “What’s the point of doing this?”
And to be honest, some of these voice exercises can become rather boring and mundane over time, and when we’re repeating the same exercises again and again, we’d much rather do something else more exciting (like binge-watching our favourite TV shows).
Thus it’s very easy to procrastinate on your vocal practice, especially when you haven’t yet seen the fruits of your labour.
And when you keep putting it off or don’t practice consistently, your voice and expression will inadvertently return to how it was before. Not because the voice coaching and the exercises don’t work, but because you haven’t done enough to ensure the improvements in your voice become more permanent.
Your progress and results are determined by how consistently you work on your voice, which is an ongoing process that requires practice over time.
(The good news is that for everyday singers — i.e. you’re not planning to go professional — a little practice everyday goes a long way.)
So if you don’t know why you’re doing this, if you aren’t clear about the value you want to get from improving your voice and expression, you’ll be more likely to stop and give up, especially during the times you don’t notice any progress.
This also applies to pretty much anything you want to learn, any area you want to improve in, any goal you strive for — your dream, your passion, your career progression…
No journey is easy, and in the day-to-day when the tasks you do get boring and seem pointless, it’s very easy to slack off or quit.
But the reality is that we get our desired outcome only because we’ve been working consistently.
And when we are clear on our WHY and the bigger picture, then these little boring tasks we do every day — voice exercises, brushing your teeth, other practices — become valuable steps that bring us closer to our goal, and we’re better able to keep going against all odds until we get there.