When I was in chorus in elementary school I had this great teacher (that NO ONE appreciated). She didn't just babysit - she taught.
Being an alto, I was pretty bad at the high notes. Aside from surely sounding horrible, she realized that I was trying hard, stretching as far as possible, but I couldn't get my low voice to go any higher. After class one day she asked me to try something. She said, "Don't stretch to reach the high notes. Approach them from above. Reach down and grab them."
As abstract and non-specific as that advice sounds, it really helped me. Suddenly I could see how to could get to my destination. Visualizing it caused a funny thing happend, my body did what it needed to do and it worked! She had changed my mindset from thinking something was just out of reach to thinking that it was possible if approached the right way.
As you may have guessed, this isn't just about singing.
2011 was my busiest year ever. There were many times when my "to do" list felt just as out of reach as those high notes, but I got through them all and she's the person to thank for that.
When my list got too overwhelming, instead of thinking of all the things I needed to do all at once and stretching to get it all done, I thought of my "to do's" as though they were in a bucket with the most pressing things on top. As I finished one thing I would reach down and pull out the next thing.
What happened was that my stress level went way down. It became easier to prioritize what really needed to be done and by when (as opposed to layering on manufactured levels of urgency). It also became easier to see what I needed to do myself versus what could be done by other people.
This even worked with interuptions. When something tried to slam its way in, it would have to earn its way first into the bucket and then to the top. It wasn't allowed to stay just because it cut in.
So looking forward to 2012, I'm going to try and keep this up.
What's your plan for 2012?