While driving to Rhode Island on Friday night, I had a bit of an epiphany. I regularly use long solo car trips to loudly sing my way through all of my favorite Broadway showtunes and soundtracks. As I was singing through the repertoire that I’ve sung through hundreds of times, I could feel that my voice was tired, and I didn’t have the range and control I did last summer while I was working on Chess.
At first, I was really upset and disappointed. How could I have lost so much vocal stamina? Why were these songs so hard all of a sudden? What was the matter with me? And then I thought about it some more, and realized that I have done almost zero serious vocalization since Mary Poppins ended at the beginning of April. Sure, I occasionally sing along with the radio in the car, but serious singing, with warms ups and exercises and singing at full volume? Not so much. So how could I be angry with the level my abilities are at if I haven’t been exercising them?
And that’s when something shifted in my head. I realized I have to DO THE WORK in order to get the results. I can’t expect to stay in peak vocal condition if I’m not using my voice every single day like I was last summer. I can’t expect to grow or get better as a performer when I’m not taking voice lessons, or dance classes, or acting workshops. This also carries over into so many other aspects of my life: running, weight loss, professional goals… the list goes on.
This might seem like an obvious thing, but I feel like so often I just assume that things will “work out.” I skip workouts or don’t do vocal warm-ups on a daily basis because I’ve always gotten by without doing these things before. Yeah, maybe I’m not hitting my goals 100% of the time, but I achieve things often enough that it feels ok and comfortable to just back off, not put in the extra effort, not worry about it. But then, those times when it doesn’t work out, I’m left with the icky “what-ifs?” What if I hadn’t skipped that workout? What if I was working on my belt voice these last few months before auditions? I’m tired of wondering after the fact if I could have done something more to be prepared.
So my new mantra is do the work. Simple, but effective. It’s a reminder that whatever it is in life that I want, whether it’s a new time or distance PR, or a lead role in a musical, I have to work for it. And then, even if things don’t go the way I want or hope, I will know that I did everything in my power to make it happen. Some things are truly outside my control, but I’ve reached a point where I can no longer settle for letting things I really want slide out of my grasp because I’m not willing to work hard.
Do you have a mantra? What is it? Do you find it helps you to reach your goals?