Ok, I admit it. I am completely guilty of taking on too many gigs, trying to make everyone happy all of the time, and usually overwhelming and exhausting myself in the process. It is very difficult for me, a type-A personality who has been trying to scrape together a living as a professional singer in LA since I landed here 12 years ago, to see the bigger picture and not just view each job offer as the next small paycheck. In the beginning it may have been true that I needed to take every little thing, but it has been a rough journey trying to figure out what gigs are the most important artistically and educationally, are fulfilling, and weigh that against the money they are offering. Every time a call comes in, I wish I had a genie or a magic 8 ball to tell me what to do, and whether or not I will love or regret the gig I just took.
The “genie” that has made the biggest difference to which work I take lately has been having a mission statement about my singing. I got a call the other day to sub for someone at their church job. I was considering taking it, since money has been tight lately, but I was upset that I would be giving up my morning with my husband for only $75. I consulted with my mission statement:
As a professional singer, I make my living entertaining audiences while playing inspiring, beautiful music with other fantastic musicians. Each performance is an opportunity to better myself and the world through music and each deserves quality and a high commitment to excellence.
I then thought to myself, “hmmm, I know the musicians there aren’t that great, and the music they usually pick isn’t that fantastic, and truly, getting some rest and face time with my husband would better myself in a far greater way,” and then I felt no guilt whatsoever about turning down the gig. Later that week, another call came in, and it was for a birthday party for a 95-year-old gentleman. The pay wasn’t great again, but again I read my mission statement and thought, “yes, I’ll be singing good music with other good musicians and making the world brighter for this gentleman, plus I get to sing with my husband, which we don’t get to do together often,” and I ended up taking the gig.
While these are small instances, I have been doing the same with larger jobs, and bigger chunks of money, that are harder to say “no” to. It helps take the emotion and worry out of a decision and takes me back to my core values, and whether I am making a value based decision. Checking in with my mission statement helps me avoid feelings of remorse or guilt over a job. My mission statement continues to evolve, but I think it will always be the ‘magic 8 ball’ that gives me peace of mind to move forward and keeps me from relapsing to my over-workaholic tendencies.