We live in a world of constant demands for attention, countless distractions, stressors, chaos, time limits, unclear boundaries, quick-fixes, hot tips, mixed signals, buzz, smack, hype…it’s a wonder anything is accomplished to any reasonable degree of satisfaction. There is dash and flash, eye candy, special effects, all getting more and persuasively invasive at warp speed, especially in the entertainment industry. Music is no exception.
The rich diverse dazzling spectrum of talents and opportunities for engagement is all astonishing, but it can also be overwhelming as it deafens, blinds or distorts perception. Because we’re bombarded with so many appeals to do this, buy that, be this, or try that, it’s easy to see how you can get so confused you lose your place and miss your chance to shine.
Tools for Connection
In order to navigate the noise and confusion, a strong faith and unshakable belief system are a must. It’s also vital to have a close circle of connection to people that love you unconditionally and support your career pursuits. You also need a circle of connection to networking resources in the music business, as well tools for refining your craft and taking good care of your gifts.
Refresh, Refuel, Relax, + Review
Yet, you can have all of that, along with incredible talent, and you will still likely face seasons of burn out, check out, want out, get out, and knock out at various points in the pursuit of your career goals. That’s why it’s important to set aside time to refresh, refuel, relax, and review. You need to take time periodically to get a clearer sense of where you’ve been, how you got where you are, what you need to do next to move on, and when to do it. During these times you set aside, you also need to check the gratitude quotient in your attitude and outlook.
One of the ways to facilitate refreshment, refueling, relaxation, and review is to indulge what are called the checkout zones. These are four zones of time and place where a general state of checking out is indulged to help replenish or recover. Only you know what it is you need to work on, walk away from, give a rest, or get busy with. So the specific choices for focus are up to you. But the concept for each zone is defined.
Retreat, Kickback, Advance, + Execute
The four checkout zones are retreat, kickback, advance, and execute. Each should be indulged long enough to establish time away from the active pursuit of your career. That way, energy, insight, focus, and other elements can be retooled in some way where they are not directly invaded or imposed upon any buzz or flash of the industry.
This is a lot like being granted permission to goof off or look at something from a different angle. You get the opportunity to let yourself daydream until you brainstorm or shake off whatever the world has stirred up to throw you off track. These checkout zones can even be indulged in a rehearsal setting with activities that are not routinely part of your rehearsal. How you use the time and assign the space for each of the zones is up to you. The only strict overriding objective is that you refuel, refresh, relax, and/or review as part of your time in each checkout zone.
Retreat + Let Go
Let’s look briefly at each of the four checkout zones and what they represent. First there is the checkout zone of retreat. It sounds pretty straightforward. The purpose is to give you a chance to “get away” from the usual. So you really could have a rehearsal, but maybe you don’t rehearse. Maybe you go on a picnic or have dinner. You might go see a movie that has a theme that touches on the need to just get away from it all. Or maybe there’s a special place that has become a source of retreat for you.
During your retreat the one thing you must discover is what you need to let go of in order to move forward. It could be a bad habit. It could be an image thing that’s not working. It may be your choice of music. Whatever it is, it might require an ongoing process of letting go in phases. But the decision must be made by the end of your retreat to let go of something that is hurting, delaying, or possibly denying your potential.
Kickback + Recover
The checkout zone we call kickback is a time for assessing what you’ve achieved and received in order to find what’s missing. The missing element is something that you either need to recover, acquire, or change. Ideally, the activity associated with the kickback zone should involve someplace you’d like to treat yourself to as a reward.
You might choose to take a long drive someplace nearby that you’ve always wanted to go to. It may be a spot close to a major venue you’d like to headline someday. The change of scenery represents achievement based on accomplishment. But your goal for kickback is to identify at least one thing that must be recovered, changed (refined), or acquired in order to realize your fullest potential as a singer, songwriter, musician, performer, or some combination of those.
Advance + Enhance
The objective for the checkout zone of advance is action oriented. You are to figure out what it is specifically that you need to do in order to either get better or move forward (or both) in terms of advancing your career. It may be voice lessons or studying piano. It might be working out or making a major image change or style adjustment. It must be something specific that you can clearly set in motion with plans for follow up in the very near future. A great location for this checkout zone is one that personally implies or represents change for the better.
Execute + Achieve
The fourth checkout zone is also more action-oriented and game plan based, and that zone is called execute. Its focus is clearly on going for the goal. In the execute zone you must come up something you want to achieve that clearly represents success. It might be singing at a specific venue, doing session work at a first-rate studio, or singing backup for a specific artist. It might be finding an A-list co-writer. The goal must clearly represent significant achievement in the music world. It must be something that validates you as an artist. And you must map out the execution of meeting that goal. For this checkout zone, look for a location that personally represents a sense of arrival or achievement.
These four checkout zones should be indulged periodically. They can be an all-day event or can be reserved for a special evening out. The objectives should remain unique to the specific checkout zone, but the activity and location can be changed each time you check in (or out).
The checkout zone is a simple, fun tool for rewarding yourself while relaxing, refueling, refreshing and reviewing the state of your career. It gives you a chance to step away from the chaos. It gives you a pressure-free time and place for renewed focus. It serves as an emotional marker and a sensory safe place to retreat, kickback, and then advance, as you execute all that is required to arrive, survive, and thrive as an artist.