Where is YOUR Destination?

I've been getting an out pour of messages and well wishes in response to my latest life's change and I have never felt so supported! In addition, I've been receiving a lot of questions about what are my next steps in my new chapter. This week's blog will give you a glimpse into the vision that I have for my path!

To my fellow musicians, I am sure that you have been met with that, "No really, what do you do for a living?" OR "Are you sure this is the right decision?" look when you tell them you are a musician or aspiring to be a full-time musician. In truth, their projected fears should not for one second affect your intended path(s). As we grow older we learn different ideas of success from our social interactions through family, friends and teachers, however it doesn't mean that their ideas are the right ones for us and it doesn't mean that we should adopt them as our own. My recent decision was an extremely bitter sweet and scary change - one that I've been dwelling on for too long because I allowed external pressures to hold me back. But I came to realize that if I didn't design my own life plan, then I would continue to fall into someone else's plan and chances are, they don't have much planned for me!

We all want to be successful! Some of us may chase money, the "dream job", fame, power, true love and many other things but have you actually taken the time to think about what it means to be truly successful in your lives? In my earlier blog, "Apples vs Oranges: An Unhealthy Predicament" I quoted Oprah Winfrey who once said that we all have one thing in common - we are striving to become the "highest and most truest potential version of ourselves!" If however we do not define what success is we can end up going down the wrong path and achieve the wrong goals. What does success mean to me/you? How do you know if you've succeeded or not succeeded?

I asked myself these questions to evaluate where I am NOW:

  • Where is my end destination?
  • Where have I already achieved success? How can I continue to build on that success?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do I need to grow?

Reaching our destination is a journey. Throughout pharmacy school, we were required to participate in a lot of self reflections on assignments which involved setting goals on how to improve ourselves during our patient-pharmacist lab interactions. Although at the time I disliked doing them, I didn't realize till now just how important it will become in making a big life's decision as I did last month. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals help us dig deeper. Defining these smaller SMART goals along the way allows us to re-evaluate and re-direct our path so we can stay on course if we start veering off track. Therefore it is important to know the path we need to take - but how do we figure out what is our path?

  • What makes me passionate about life?
  • How do I want to be remembered?
  • What is the lifestyle that I want to create for myself?
  • What truly matters to me?
  • How can I make a lasting, positive difference in the world?

The more specific that we can be with our answers, the more clarity we gain about our road to success and what it means to us.

The meaning of success is different for everyone - extremely subjective similar to how art and music is perceived. Achieving milestone goals are no doubt one form of success and are great measuring points to our final destination. But to me it's much more than that.

"Success to me is having the ability (ie. time, resources, energy, passion) to do what I love while inspiring others along the way. The ability to have courage to withstand failure and to maintain my inner spark to continuously learn, grow, improve and love myself a little more each day."

                                       "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Music provides for me a "discussion platform" about real issues and stories about life and society. I ask myself "What is my DESTINATION?" every time I begin writing a new song. This affects my chord progressions and lyrics I write. I often start from the end and work backwards. Musically, I find my main 3-4 chords - that way I know which chord is my starting point and where is "home". As one of my favourite artists and biggest musical influence once said, "If you know the route that you need to take to someplace you're going, and you know every single way to get there and every single short-cut, that's how I approach my chord structures and progressions" - Brian McKnight. This is exactly why I gravitated to R&B and Neosoul from classical music. Don't get me wrong, classical music training gave me the foundation, the techniques, the discipline required to be the musician and singer-songwriter I am today but R&B/Neosoul gives me creative freedom that is restricted in classical music. There are a lot of rules in classical music that doesn't allow me to fully express musically the message and/or emotion I want to express in my songs. R&B and neosoul allows me to take whatever route I want without having to worry if I'm using too many consecutive 7ths or octaves (that's how I failed one of my counterpoint theory exams).

There is a lot of uncertainty in my new path that I chose and designed for myself but I know that this is the right path. How do I know? One important validation is the response I have been receiving from all of you. The words of encouragement and support and most importantly, the inspiration that my craft has transpired is one of the many reasons why I will be pushing harder than ever to continue to create new music, share more stories and connect on a level that pushes me to become better. Success comes in many different shapes and sizes but I think we can all agree that success comes by through working 10x harder, persevering and consistency. Too often do I see instances where people are not content with where they are now or wished they have done something different. To end off this blog, I'd love to share this quote with you and hope that you find as much resonance as I did. "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." - Mae West

What does success mean to YOU? Where is YOUR Destination?

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