Transcript 112 – Amy Elmore on 3 Mindset Questions to Ask Before Setting Your New Year’s Resolutions

Transcript: 112 – Amy Elmore on 3 Mindset Questions to Ask Before Setting Your New Year’s Resolutions

Transcript for 112 – Amy Elmore on 3 Mindset Questions to Ask Before Setting Your New Year’s Resolutions


[00:00:00] Andrea: Hey, it’s Andrea with Music Studio Startup, the podcast about the business of teaching music. Learn from the startup stories of music teachers who are doing incredible things with their studios. Be inspired by creating musicians who are branching out and thriving as entrepreneurs. Be empowered by the insights of experts who will help you grow your own studio.


[00:00:25] Let’s get started.


[00:00:37] Hi Amy. Welcome back to the podcast. Thank you for being here again today. Today is a little bit of a different structure. Really different than anything I’ve ever done on Music Studio Startup. But before we get into that, we heard about your studio a little bit this past summer, back in Studio Snapshot 0 0 7.


[00:00:55] But teaching is not your only career or interest. So can you tell us a little bit about your background?


[00:01:01] Amy Elmore: Sure. Hi, Andrea. It’s so nice to be back. Yes, I have been teaching for many years and it was always kind of on the back burner, like in the sidelines. I have worked in a classroom. I worked in a test kitchen.


[00:01:17] A few quote unquote careers ago. And then after that I went to get my master’s in counseling. And so I spent a few years in the counseling field and worked with children and youth and families who were in crisis. So that area has always been very interesting to me. At the time, my kids were young and I was working with young kids, and so it was very stressful .


[00:01:40] There were a lot of, like I said, crisis situations and having kids at home the same age. It was just a lot to manage. So I kind of stepped aside from that job for a while, did a few other things. My husband’s a pastor, so I’m full-time pastor’s wife as well, and that takes up some time. But I’ve always been teaching, it’s always been in the background, but now I kind of am really interested in that combination of teaching, understanding the brain, understanding mindsets and how kind of what we think and feel about ourselves really manifest in our daily lives. So, yeah. It’s funny how you don’t always expect you’re gonna be where you’re gonna be, but all the experiences that you had over the years, they all kind of meld and add to that foundation of, um, you know, making you the unique person that you are.


[00:02:36] Andrea: For sure, for sure. And I think sometimes teachers wanna like keep really separate their interests, especially if they seem like, you know, they like to, I don’t know, play with Legos and they also like to teach. And it’s when you put those two seemingly obscure things together that. I don’t know. It is like what brings the personality to a teacher and their studio, and I think it becomes something really, really cool.


[00:02:59] So, yes. And you’ve been doing some work over the last year or so, right, with teachers and digging into this concept of mindset, but of course drawing on your background and counseling. Can you talk about what you’ve been up to there?


[00:03:14] Amy Elmore: Well, I think it started in 2020 when we all kind of found ourselves teaching online, and I started connecting with other teachers through Instagram and just really enjoyed the community of meeting with people and learning from other people, and then kind of having the interest of helping other teachers and developing a space where we could be together. Where I think not everybody understands probably what we do and what the teaching life is like and the business end of it as well, and the entrepreneurial pieces of it. And so over the last, I think it’s just been about six months, I started this little experiment that has continued on, it’s called the Piano Teacher Happy Hour, and we meet once a month and we just kind of get together and talk about things happening in our studios.


[00:04:06] It’s fun to connect teachers with each other who may have similar needs or similar ideas. So we’ve been doing that. I also met with a few teachers who were really on the entrepreneurial path, so they were teaching, but they also wanted to do something else like compose music, create resources, perform more.


[00:04:27] And so we had a little mastermind there. I think there were five of us together and we met, and it was around the concept of mindset work and systems and kind of getting out of our heads, overcoming some limiting beliefs and thoughts and ideas that hold us back, and then finding practical ways of moving forward.


[00:04:48] So around that kind of umbrella, I guess you could say. I also created a course over this last year. It was funny. I was meeting with somebody and I thought, oh, the year’s come to the end and I, I can’t really think of anything I did. And this person was like, well, didn’t you do this? Didn’t you do this? Didn’t you…? And it, looking back, because all of it felt so experimental, just kind of throwing things out there, seeing what sticks, seeing what I like to do, what I don’t like to do. It was just a very big growing learning experience last year.


[00:05:21] Andrea: Well, I’m glad all those experiments that you, you put it out there and just started trying stuff.


[00:05:25] Over the last couple of months, I’ve been dropping hints on the podcast about some fun collaborations in the works for Music Studio Startup, and today we get to talk about one of them, which is a collaboration with you and your work that you’ve been doing. Have always seen Music Studio Startup as a way of bringing experts in different subject matters to music teachers.


[00:05:46] And what I love about your work is it comes from this super strong background of being a counselor, but you also know how to speak the music teacher language and I can really just make it real to a music teacher and, um, give us tools that are, you know, scientifically based and just a value to our work as teachers and also as entrepreneurs.


[00:06:10] So I’m really excited to be doing this and the thing we will be doing together in the new year. One of the new things is launching a new podcast. And Amy will be the host of this podcast with other guests making appearances, and the first season will be launching later this spring. And you wanna talk a little bit about some of the topics that you plan to cover on that podcast series?


[00:06:33] Amy Elmore: Sure. Yeah. I’m super excited to be doing this. It’s something I never thought I would ever do. In fact, when we had the studio snapshot, I was so nervous about that. I was. I never thought that would ever happen. And here we are doing again, . Um, it’s, you know, I’m, I’m a beginner in this whole podcast thing, so I hope it will be helpful for people to see just in terms of being a beginner at something, how we go through that process and how we learn and grow as well. But some of the topics we’re gonna be talking about are comparison within ourselves with other studios and other people, and their teaching skills, and dealing with the difficult parents, dealing with difficult students. That if those things come up for you in your studio, ideas around procrastination and overwhelm and anxiety.


[00:07:25] I was just listening to another podcast this morning about how our culture is really just in an anxiety crisis and just life experiences over the last few years and for kids who are now in their twenties, who came out of the 9-11 years and, and the crisis that happened there. And so how anxiety is really such a big issue for us as teachers, as entrepreneurs, and then also for students as well. So to help them overcome some of those things or just be aware of them to start with.


[00:08:01] Andrea: Mm-hmm. I’m glad you brought up the point of that being a beginner, because that’s also something that our audience will get to observe along with us as we figure out this new, this new collaboration and partnership and what that looks like. So yeah, I welcome questions from anyone about what’s going on behind the scenes there. We’ll try to share some of that and include you in the process of building this new venture together. And today we get to hear sort of a teaser episode of what listeners can expect from your podcast when it releases later in the spring, and it’s all about the mindset of goal setting.


[00:08:33] Can you just outline for us what we’re gonna learn about?


[00:08:37] Amy Elmore: Well, first we’re gonna talk a little bit about where we are, what you might think about goal setting, whether you like it or you hate it, hang in there with the episode and you might have a different idea at the end. So where we are, where we’re starting from, where we wanna go, and then how we’re gonna get there.


[00:08:52] And that can involve practical things for us in our teaching, in our studio, in our regular personal lives. It could involve things that we think about, maybe even the person we want to become this year, not so much as the stuff we wanna do. That would be part of what we’ll be talking about. And then we’ll sum it up a little bit with something that I’ve been doing it for a few years, which is choosing a word of the year.


[00:09:17] Andrea: All right, so we’re gonna go ahead and play that solo episode with Amy, and then at the end you’ll hear a little bit more discussion between Amy and I about our goal setting processes and kind of where we’re at, at the beginning of 2023. Here’s the episode!.


[00:09:31] Amy Elmore: My husband Jim, and I have two sons, and when our family was younger, I was always super excited to have everyone join me in setting New Year’s goals.


[00:09:40] I had worksheets. We made a family date of it. I tried to be really positive and not pushy as much as I could, but every year I was met with a collective groan and an exaggerated eye roll from all my boys husband include. I’m sure there were many reasons for this, but even as adults, it’s my experience that when it comes to the process of setting New Year’s goals, we either love it or we hate it.


[00:10:07] If we’re in the hate it category, we may have the belief that we won’t be able to stick with them, let alone accomplish them to completion. So why set ourselves up for failure and tack this failure onto all the others on our long and growing list? I’ve definitely had my share of failures, and I understand how real that feels.


[00:10:27] I also know that thinking about this stuff is a lot of work. After a busy holiday season, that should feel like rest, but oftentimes doesn’t. Especially for piano teachers, music teachers, anybody who is a musician at the holidays knows that it’s busy and not always restful. Well, the last thing we might wanna do is deep work at the end of all of that, looking at the year ahead, and heaven forbid looking at ourselves.


[00:10:52] But I’m here to say that you can do this on your own timeframe and you don’t have to do it alone. When it comes to New Year’s goals, or February goals or March goals, or any kind of dreaming for that matter, I am in the Levitt camp more often than not. While I usually don’t shy away from a good checklist for the new year, the new week, a new teaching semester, I’m not gonna lie. It doesn’t always come easy, and I can totally procrastinate like it’s a world class superpower. Oftentimes what keeps me stuck is the what and the how. My lack of clarity about what I want to do and how to do it can keep me in the hate it category, especially when looking at anything new, not just New Year’s things.


[00:11:37] ,My son’s third grade teacher, I believe it was used to tell their class all the time when they would start a new concept and they would kind of groan a little bit, and I don’t get this, and maybe you’ve experienced it with a student yourself, but doing new things is kind of scary, but this teacher would say to the class, it’s not hard, it’s just new.


[00:11:59] So that stuck with me a lot. So whenever we look at something new, that’s something to take with us. It’s not hard, it’s just new. So today’s topic is really about shifting our mindsets around things like that, around what we think about goals and resolutions and plans for the new year ahead. I’ll chat about it for a little bit and give some practical steps about how I tackle things, and then we’ll have some reflection questions at the end so you can get practical and specific with your own thoughts and plans for 2023.


[00:12:29] So what’s the whole deal with mindset anyway? This term has been around for quite a while and it’s was really big in the educational world, like several decades ago. The mindset theory is attributed to Dr. Carol Dweck. She said, we either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. We either believe we have just a limited amount of something, a skill, an ability, a characteristic, or we believe that we are capable of growing, learning, changing our thoughts and behaviors with understanding, with practice, with application.


[00:13:02] I mean, as teachers, we know that, right? We can help our students to do new things. Although the original application was really meant for classroom teachers, now we see this mindset concept everywhere, especially in the personal development world. So if we’re not big fans of goals, how can we reframe our mindsets around them?


[00:13:23] Reframing is a strategy used in cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s when we actively notice negative or unhelpful thoughts and replace them with helpful positive thoughts. It’s taking the time to look at something differently . So if we notice that we have negative thoughts and feelings about setting goals or making resolutions, we could practice thinking about it in a different way.


[00:13:46] We could think about New Year’s, not so much about goals that we might set and quote unquote fail at, but maybe experiments that we wanna try. Experiments need a lot of practicing and tweaking and falling and getting back up. Sometimes experiments don’t work as they were originally hypothesized to , but that’s not a failure.


[00:14:04] It’s just an opportunity to make an adjustment and try again. I know falling down does not feel good, but staying down feels even worse. So let’s start with a few questions. First question, where are we now? That’s a simple question, but also a complex question all at the same time. If I were to answer that, I could say, right now I am in my bed, one of my favorite places to write with my laptop.


[00:14:33] I could also say I am in and out of a story that I have lived for far too long. A story that involves doubt and fear and overthinking, and a futile effort to always try to be perfect. Where are you now? Maybe this year we think about what we want to do and where we want to go, but also who we want to become.


[00:14:56] But let’s start thinking about where we’re starting. As teachers and business owners, my guess is that we are often in the weeds of all the things, all the things we have to do in our studios for our students, that we neglect the person behind all of that: us. I know that getting to know ourselves can be kind of scary.


[00:15:16] A few years ago, I celebrated a milestone birthday, one of those birthdays that has a zero at the end. A few of my close friends took me away though for the weekend, and it was kind of like those surprise kidnappings, like from your middle school years. I don’t know if that ever happened to you or you were ever a part of that, but your friends would come to your door at 6:00 AM and they would take you out to breakfast, pajamas and all, and it was a total surprise.


[00:15:40] You never were ready for. But these friends that came to pick me up, they did let me get dressed and they let me pack a bag, but they didn’t tell me where we were going or what we would be doing. We ended up at an old school house in kind of like a wine country area that was repurposed into an Airbnb. It was so cute.


[00:16:00] It was the greatest combination of vintage and modern, and I got to hang out there with my friends for the weekend. With a whole weekend ahead of eating and relaxing and sharing with these close friends, I decided to, it would be fun to kick it off and like go deep at dinner. I am not a fan of small talk.


[00:16:18] I like to have deep conversations with people and I figured, Hey, it was my birthday after all, so that’s what we’re gonna do. So I asked them if they wanted to do an exercise together, and the prompt was to ask each other the question, what do you know about me that I don’t know about myself. And you would think that I had just asked them to give up a kidney or like improvise or sight read or something , whatever our biggest dread is, right?


[00:16:45] The fear and terror, they expressed at having to hear something about themselves they wouldn’t like was palpable. However, I was actually thinking that we would share the beautiful insights that we had into our friends, that we could give each other courage to live into those strength. I think their collective thought was that we would expose each other’s worst characteristics, and it was terrifying.


[00:17:08] I never did convince them at dinner that night to go ahead with this exercise. Maybe I didn’t explain it well enough, but it is scary, right? Thinking about looking at ourselves, flaws and everything, but getting to know ourselves can be scary, but it’s also time where we can have those light bulb moments that have been holding us back from pursuing more.


[00:17:28] Getting to know ourselves is also not a one and done kind of thing. It takes time. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to have it figured out right away, and give yourself the gift of that time. Getting to know yourselves in kind of that deep and meaningful way. If you’ve been putting yourself on the back burner in this way, if something’s on the back burner for too long, all the good stuff evaporates away. So it’s time to ladle out all that goodness in yourself before it totally evaporates away. So our second question is, after we think about where are we now? Maybe, who are we now? Where do we want to go and who do we want to become? One of my favorite quotes from Ian Morgan Kron, the author of the book, the Story of You is we can’t change the facts of what happened to us in the past, but we can change how we show up in the future. How do you want to show up in the future? This is like the fun part where we get to dream. For so long I didn’t give myself permission to dream. I kind of somewhat fell into this job of teaching piano. It was something I started doing in high school and then on and off on the side during other jobs, raising a family, and it just sort of morphed into where I am.


[00:18:40] Until recently, there wasn’t a lot of dreaming or planning about what I really wanted to do and who I really wanted to do it with. It was just year after year of teaching with no clear plan or direction or passion for that matter. I kind of wish I could have had a do-over with some of those early students.


[00:18:56] Maybe you graduated with a degree in pedagogy or music performance, but maybe you fell into teaching kind of like me. Whatever the case, taking the time to dream about your goals, big or little, elaborate or simple, ensures that you will actually be able to wake up in the morning excited not just to have a job, but to live a calling and a purpose that matters to you, and that helps other people.


[00:19:21] Finding our purpose means being able to step into our unique nature, our core strengths. While also being the solution to someone else’s problem. How great would that be? We all have unique value to bring to the world. What is the work that your soul was meant to do?


[00:19:37] One little warning here, speaking from personal experience. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need more of something. More education, more books, more manipulatives, more resources. That might not be what you need. Maybe what you need is to see a different way of looking at your teaching or your business skills or life. A way that looks at who you are and what you have to offer.


[00:20:00] From my experience, whenever there’s too much, I cannot take action on anything. A suggestion here is to take inventory on what’s not working for you, what’s draining you, what feels like physical or mental clutter. It’s like when you take down your holiday decorations, and don’t get me wrong, I totally love a cozy, comfy Christmas house, but that reset from holiday decor to a clean and seemingly new space, even though it’s all of my regular stuff that I can just see again, it is so refreshing to me.


[00:20:30] Having less helps me to see what I really need. After you think about what you need less of, ask yourself, what do you bring to the table in your teaching, in your business? Is it experience? Is it connectivity? Is it creativity? Is it patiently teaching beginners? Is it finding those perfect pieces to connect with the older students? You know, the ones that kind of fall through the cracks sometimes. Through that process, you might find that you’re great where you are. If so, then celebrate. Double down on what’s working for you and what’s lighting you up. Chances are that’s exactly what you’re meant to do and exactly where you’re meant to be.


[00:21:05] Just because everyone else is doing fill in the blank, whatever it is, doesn’t mean that you have to also, but as you look at where you want to go, you might decide that change is what you want, and that change of some kind is what you need. Heads up. This is where it can get a little sticky . Although we might desire some change, we often can stay in a broken system because that’s what we know.


[00:21:30] The term homeostasis. The state of balance in a system can be used physiologically when referring to the body, like when the body self regulates blood sugar, for instance, and that’s a good thing. Or it can be related psychologically. In family therapy, it’s the tendency of the family oftentimes to maintain internal stability and resist change, even if it’s not healthy, because it’s something that’s familiar. It’s something that they know. And in that circumstance, homeostasis is not a good thing. Broken, stuck family systems or systems in general never grow, let alone heal. I say this, not to discourage or present an obstacle, but to throw it out there. So you’re aware that when things get tough, you can recognize one possible thing that might be happening and not to let it get the best of you.


[00:22:21] If you get stuck on something, you could tell yourself it’s okay. It’s just homeostasis setting in, and I will find a way to move forward. So our third question today, how do we get. When I was little, my parents would pack up the Oldsmobile and drive from California to Minnesota every summer.


[00:22:39] Since my brother’s 17 years older than me, I grew up mostly like an only child. I couldn’t read or do much of anything in these road trips in the car because I used to get super nauseous and the trips were so long all by myself. I was all alone in the backseat with nothing to do, but look at the scenery, which as you could expect, would be a total blast for a 10 year old.


[00:23:00] Actually now I would love three or four days sitting in a car just basking in the scenery. I don’t remember much about those long road trips between California and Minnesota, but what I do remember is asking my parents this question very often: are we there yet? Well, I believe the majority of our ability to accomplish goals starts in our minds, and that’s huge. Having that right mindset or way of thinking about something. I know that we as teachers, we like to have a good lesson plan. So here’s a plan. Number one, have the right tools. Number two, don’t go it alone. Over the holiday, our adult sons, they were home at Christmas and they gifted us a ring doorbell. I’m not sure if you have those in your area.


[00:23:45] We had a regular old doorbell. It didn’t have a camera. Didn’t alert us about anything, but our kids thought that we needed to upgrade our doorbell technology and move into the new century. Our oldest son was installing it one day and I heard him saying it would be so much easier if you guys had all the right tools, kind of under his breath, and he’s right.


[00:24:04] Having the right tools really does make a difference when you think about where you want to go and what tools you might need to get there. Could it be something as simple as ordering a new planner or a box of post-it notes to keep your daily tasks organized? Maybe it’s a bigger tool, like a website to finally make your teaching hobby into a business. Maybe you have the tools like we do , but they just need to be sharpened or charged or organized in some way. By taking a course to brush up on your teaching skills or your business skills or clarifying a value, maybe that’s something that could help you this year.


[00:24:42] The second part of the plan is to ask for help. My mom is like 98% Norwegian. I think when I was growing up, every Christmas she would make this potato tortilla type of thing, and it was called lefsa. There’s really not much about the dough for lefsa except potatoes, butter and flour, sometimes cream. I think. You roll it out really thin, which is super key. And then you cook it on a griddle, spread it with butter, sprinkle it with sugar, and I know that if there’s any Norwegians listing out there, and that’s a controversial element, but that’s how we make it and eat it. And then you roll it up and it’s so yummy. But it’s more than just the lefsa. It’s the memories that go with the lefsa and the people that made it, and the people that you ate it with.


[00:25:30] I really never cared much to know about how to make it. But last year when my mom was 93, she decided she wasn’t going to make it anymore on her own. Fair enough. So she and I finally made it together. It turned out so good, and I’m glad that I finally slowed down enough to make it a priority. So this year I figured, Hey, I’ve done this once before, 12 months ago, but I could totally do this again.


[00:25:52] I do not need her help , but nothing worked. The dough was sticky. It kept falling apart from the cutting board to the griddle, I was burning every piece on the griddle. So in the middle of the process, my husband drove over to my mom’s house to pick her up and bring her to our house for help. I was reluctant at first. I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t do it, but my frustration got the better of me. If I had accepted her help, which she graciously offered in the first, maybe I wouldn’t have had to throw half the dough away and the whole process would’ve been so much more enjoyable. Maybe asking for help for you means having parents bring food to a recital reception or take the pictures at your next recital so that you don’t miss out on one more opportunity.


[00:26:35] I know it’s so hard to remember to do that when we’re running our own recitals. Maybe it means delegating a task in your business that you could do, but it’s really not the best use of your time and there are other people that could do it just as well, or maybe even better. Maybe this is the year you’re going to join a mastermind group to hold you accountable as you tackle your goals.


[00:26:54] Whatever the case, we were never meant to do life alone. If you feel alone in your business, I know that Andrea or myself are more than happy to listen and help as needed. So as you journey through taking stock of where you are, where you want to go, remember it takes time. Figuring out this stuff is not a one and done situation.


[00:27:13] Be okay with that. Give yourself grace to be a beginner and try new things, even if the new thing is getting to know yourself better. And remember when you may ask yourself, am I there yet? Remember that every hill, every valley, every pit stop is all part of the process, part of the experiment, part of the experience.


[00:27:35] Nothing is ever wasted. You will get there. The final thing is this whole concept about choosing a word of the year. I don’t know if this is a social media thing or how long this has been going on, but the last few years I’ve seen this pop up and I have enjoyed choosing one word that would act as a guide or a theme for the future months ahead.


[00:27:55] Last year, my word was simplify, and I can’t tell you how refreshing that concept had become to me. When I had a decision to make, I could ask myself, how can I simplify this? When I was caught in the cycle of overthinking something, the word simplify became my mantra. This year, although I often find making decisions really challenging, it seemed clear as day to decide on the word intentional.


[00:28:19] There will definitely be some reading and writing and praying and investigating about how this will be defined and look in my life. But I can’t wait to see how the year unfolds as I make choices in a new and intentional way. And no doubt, simplicity will definitely still be on my mind. . If I kind of think about all we’ve talked about today, I feel most aligned when I’m thinking about who I am, where I am now, where I want to go, I feel aligned with the words connection and growth.


[00:28:46] Who do I want to become? Someone who’s content in knowing my own strengths, not trying to be or do something that’s not meant for me, but puts consistent effort into the areas that I love, which is finding the rest and grace in meeting people where they are and in meeting them as who they. , even though they might not know who they are yet.


[00:29:07] I also love encouraging the work and the grit that it takes as we continue growing in the places and the things that we desire the most. Thanks for listening in today. I’m so grateful that you’re here and I’m cheering you on every step of the way as you reflect on where you are and where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, and hopefully we can all get there together.


[00:29:34] Andrea: All right, Amy, I was taking so many notes while I listened to that solo episode. There was so much there, so much to think about. So many good prompts to get started with goal setting for this coming year. I was just wondering, have you always had the positive mindset towards goal setting, or is that something that’s developed as you’ve been an adult?


[00:29:53] Amy Elmore: That’s a good question. I think it started when I was first married. I don’t remember making goals when I was younger than that. So yeah, it’s been a good 30 some years that I’ve been doing that. But I think what helps is making it something that’s fun and not dreaded. Like I mentioned, I would say to our family, okay, we’re, you know, we’re going to set goals now, but I tried to make it fun.


[00:30:19] Like, we’ll, we’ll do an event, we’ll go to the park or whatever. But I think there was a lot of, oh mom, what are you doing? You know so to overcome that, whether out in my own brain sometimes is to kind of make it special. So this year my husband and I, we went to dinner for the purpose of talking about that and setting our goals for the year and kind of reflecting a little bit on last year. And it was really fun. I forgot to bring anything to write on and I was really trying to stay off my phone so I could be kind of in the moment and present with him. So I have all these notes on a napkin from our dinner date a couple weeks ago. It was, uh, yeah, so just to elevate it and make it something to look forward.


[00:31:03] Andrea: Mm-hmm. . Do you do business and personal goals in the same time or do you kind of separate those?


[00:31:08] Amy Elmore: We do them together, yeah. Okay. So we kind of have some categories like what do we want to do and work, and then he’ll talk about his work stuff and I’ll talk about mine and it’s good to hear like his overview of the year too, because sometimes we’re just both going in our own direction and forget kind of what each of us is doing in our work areas.


[00:31:26] And then we’ll talk about home projects or finances or health and fitness. That kind of stuff. Spiritual goals. What’s bad for us is that we leave the fun stuff to the end. I was noticing that on my, on my little napkin. That was like, at the very end it was like, okay, well what kind of like fun stuff do we want to do this year?


[00:31:48] And I think that’s really common for a lot of teachers that we have a hard time like settling down. We’re just like, what’s the next thing? What’s the next project? I had a plan, plan, plan.


[00:31:57] Andrea: Yes. I can so relate .


[00:31:59] Amy Elmore: Yeah. So to make sure that like we schedule some fun things in and my husband would’ve talked about the fun stuff first. But, we did plan some fun stuff in there for this year.


[00:32:10] Andrea: We do some similar things in my family. I pretty much do my business goal setting on my own, because that’s kind of a thing that I just own myself. This last year I’ve had two other people on my team who are pretty involved, so that’s been new. Instead of just me, I’ve like, I do some initial visioning for the year, but then I bring them in and we actually put down the, the goals and set them for each quarter and things like that. And then on the personal side, my husband and I actually, we try to take a weekend away once a year. And we did a really good job for several years, and then kids came along and then covid happened, and that’s been a lot more challenging.


[00:32:47] Amy Elmore: A weekend away to talk about your goals or you just, that’s one, one thing you always plan in your year.


[00:32:53] Andrea: To talk about the goals. Kind of like you said, early in your marriage, you started setting aside time for more maybe formal goal setting. And it was a similar thing for us. I think maybe the second year we were married I was like, I need something to work towards in the in the relationship.


[00:33:07] You know, it’s kind of obvious when you’re dating and engaged, like what you’re working towards, right? I wanted to be working together towards things. But actually it’s interesting. My business goals tend to center around a calendar a year. But our personal rhythms are just different, I guess. So we’ve tended to do those. When we lived away from family, we would go right after Easter and go away for three days. . That was when we lived in Maryland and then we moved back to St. Louis. Now we’re around family and so that time doesn’t work as well cuz we’ve got family things going on. So we have been going in like October or something. Yeah, just finding like what works in what season of life and, right.


[00:33:46] Amy Elmore: I mean that’s the cool thing about it. I think one of the things people hate about resolutions and goals is because it feels so prescribed. It’s like January 1st. You got to start now, you know? And, and just know that you can make it what you want to make it, as long as it’s something you’re moving towards, like you said, moving forward.


[00:34:03] Andrea: And you brought up the point that the holidays are not restful and for me, they’re not at all a good time to start reflecting. And I’ve started using an offset quarter system for my goals. So I don’t even try to start anything January 1st. I start, I do my reflection in January, and then start my goals February 1st and my quarters go February-March-April, May-June-July, August-September-October, November-December-January. It’s been a few years since I switched to that system, but I like the way it bridges the busy season, so I’m not trying to finish things by December 31st when there’s all that other stuff going on. Instead, I’m trying to finish goals by January 30th, 31st.


[00:34:47] Amy Elmore: Yeah. Oh, that’s so cool. Yeah. But like I was saying earlier, I think when we were chatting in the intro, that people don’t always understand like the music teacher life and the musician life for that matter too, in the holidays. if you’re doing recitals or if you’re performing or you’re doing something with a church or a nursing home or you know, all these things. It’s a busy time. Everyone else gets to come and enjoy and then we’re like the ones providing the enjoyment, I guess. But we need time too to kind of come down from that. I like your offset quarters or systems.


[00:35:24] Andrea: Yeah. It’s been working really well for me.


[00:35:26] Amy Elmore: Makes sense. Makes sense. Yeah.


[00:35:28] Andrea: You also talked about summing up your year with a word of the year. Where are you at for 2023?


[00:35:36] Amy Elmore: Well, I chose the word intentional and I think what I am learning now is that I need to, it can’t just be a standalone word. It’s like it has to be intentional about what, right. So what I’m adding to that is if it’s, let’s say it’s a health goal. I want to try to move like at least daily I think we can be so sedentary, right? If we’re sitting on a chair right next to the piano on bench, or maybe we’re on the bench ourselves or whatever, there’s a lot of sitting, so trying to make sure that I’m moving in an intentional way. So that might mean I have to make myself a note, or that may mean I join a program where I get an alert or there’s a community that that holds me accountable.


[00:36:21] It’s deciding what’s important and then being intentional about going after it, I guess. But it’s only January, so I’m still trying to work through it, but it has, it has surfaced in my brain a lot of times. Like I’ll be doing something and think, is that really the best use of my time right now? Is that the intentional action I need to be taking to get me towards X, whatever? What about you? Did you choose a word for the year?


[00:36:49] Andrea: In some years I have. It’s not a thing I’ve done every year, but I was thinking about it again this year and I’m not settled on one either again, mid-January. I haven’t finished my reflection for the year yet. But I am kind of leaning between two.


[00:37:04] One is enjoy. I think you mentioned that you’re an Enneagram three, and I’m an Enneagram one. And so we are perfectionistic and can like beat all the fun out of things sometimes. Oh, so just that idea of like letting things be fun for the sake of fun. So that’s one of the words I’m thinking of using this year.


[00:37:26] The other is, again, think you had the Enneagram one thing. Enneagram one’s I think I’m a a one wing nine actually, where the nines can be slower, slower, responding to things. And sometimes I just need to like get myself into action. So, the other word that could be there’s something like that, like action.


[00:37:46] Like you can do this in this slow way or you can do it in a, with more expedience or something. Yeah. Kind of, kind of trying to decide between those two. What I want my theme to be. Not sure yet.


[00:37:57] Amy Elmore: Enneagram nine, my husband Jim is, and the slow factor’s real, but I think it’s because he’s so thoughtful about what’s happening next. So like that’s one way to reframe it, right? We might think, oh, I’m slow. I’m not getting stuff done. I’m, you know, I need to be, take more action. But what if we think that this time of being thoughtful, this time of processing through what’s coming next is important as well? I guess that’s my way of saying don’t be too hard for yourself for not taking action. You’re from an Enneagram three who’s like action, action, action all the time, but there’s value in the slow and the processing time that it takes, because then once you know what you’re doing, I bet you’re like, off to the races with the action .


[00:38:43] Andrea: And this is why I invited you to do this, is because this is Amy cheerleader and encourager of music teachers at every step point, she can’t help but doing it. Yes. I think you’re right about the thoughtfulness. That that is what, what would slow me down and sometimes I don’t realize that I’ve already come to the decision I need to make and then I can act quickly. So like realizing I’ve settled this, I can move forward in doing that. So yeah, so I’m glad I’ve had this encouragement from you to consider a word of the year for this year, because that was the one I was leaning towards, was the more action oriented word, whatever that would be. Action or expedience or something. But I’m glad it’s been on my radar to get this January started.


[00:39:26] Amy Elmore: Yeah, that’s great. Well, you can pick a new, I mean, you could probably change it too. You can go six months in and go back to enjoy or something if you want .


[00:39:35] Andrea: There you go. A word of the six months.


[00:39:37] Amy Elmore: So you can add them together. You’re going to take action on enjoyment.


[00:39:42] Andrea: There you go. You’ve already shared some reflection questions and some things to help people get started on this goal setting process for themselves. Do you want to recap what you’ve got that listeners can take advantage of?


[00:39:56] Amy Elmore: Oh sure. Yeah. So just going through the questions, you know, it’s one thing when we’re listening to a podcast and maybe we’re walking the dog or we’re doing the dishes or whatever, but to, if you want to print them out, we can make a printable available that you could use with like a morning journal time if you do that. Or just to have them on your bulletin board or in a folder or something to, to look at.


[00:40:22] And there were a lot of questions. No pressure to do all of them. I think that’s usually my biggest mistake is I try to do too much. So maybe just pick three things that really resonate with you. Not everybody is going to be drawn to certain questions or topics, but some will jump off the page, I’m sure of it. And if those things, if you have time later, you can kind of jot some things down.


[00:40:46] Andrea: And I love your questions because they’re kind of like comprehensive and kind of look at your whole life. And my question, are more focused on the business side. But I’ve got a year end reflection questions to ask about your business. And some of it’s really tangible things like what were your numbers? And others are more like what’s, you know, what’s not working in your business. And then I also have the vision and values course, which that I always recommend when teachers are feeling like they’re trying to chase too many things. And like you described, like what do you want to be about trying to find that focus? and the vision and values is again, more oriented to the business side, but I think really supplements, well what you’ve been talking about, Amy.


[00:41:25] Amy Elmore: I think that’s a free course, right?


[00:41:28] Andrea: Yes.


[00:41:28] Amy Elmore: Yeah, it’s on my list, Andrea, to go through, because I, I really want to see what you have to say in that area. I’m looking forward to going through it. I just, you know, December and…


[00:41:41] Andrea: December. Enough said. And I always tell people to make it fun, like go to a coffee shopping like you’ve described, your goal setting with your husband. Go to a coffee shop. Block out 90 minutes or something to just kind of sit back.


[00:41:52] Amy Elmore: And get something yummy to eat. Like a croissant or something.


[00:41:56] Andrea: Yeah. Well, this has been really fun. I’m excited for the podcast to launch. Can you talk about what the format of the podcast will be?


[00:42:04] Amy Elmore: In terms of what to expect. Thanks for coming along on this beginner journey. So it’s going to be some solo episodes and combined also with some casual conversations with teachers and other experts in particular fields. And then we’ll just kind of pivot and see how it works and see what’s most helpful because we’re here to be helpful and encouraging to other teachers and studio owners and business owners and whoever needs a reset and mindset and systems.


[00:42:35] Andrea: Awesome. Yeah, I’m excited. It’ll be kind of similar, like an expanded version of what you heard today, where you get that chunk from Amy drawing on her counseling background and 30 plus years as a music teacher, and then just the casual conversation between two people or an expert or, or something like that. I think that there’s going to be a lot of learning and sharing, helpful sharing that happens there.


[00:42:55] Amy Elmore: Looking forward to it.


[00:42:56] Andrea: Is there any final encouragement you have for a listener?


[00:43:00] Amy Elmore: I would say that there’s always a balance or a blend of things. For me, the two words that have come up over and over in my mind the last few years are the words grit and grace. So the working towards things and the hustling and the planning and the organizing, and the taking action, and the being intentional and all that stuff, that’s gritty stuff, right? That takes work. But we cannot be all work all the time. And so to have that grace on ourselves to be able to say, you know what? I’ve put in the work today. I can take a break. I’ve put in the work this holiday season, I can take January to reflect on that. So to balance that grace on ourselves, for ourselves, for other people, and to also bring that to our studios. I think it really shows up a lot with students and performances and getting ready for recitals and testing and things like that, that there has to be work involved.


[00:44:02] We can’t just like call a word out into the air and say this is what it’s going to be. I’m just going to have grace on myself and watch it happen and let it go. You know, there has to be a balance of that work, that grit, and that rest and that grace that we have for ourself. So wherever you find yourself today, you know, maybe you can reflect on that label that I’m in the grace mode today and be okay with it, or I’m in the grit mode and be okay then knowing that the hard work is going to get you somewhere and it’s not going to be a forever thing, you can rest after the hustle.


[00:44:36] Andrea: That’s a great reminder to start the year. All right, and as we sign off, where can listeners follow you and keep up to date on the release of the new podcast?


[00:44:47] Amy Elmore: I would love for you to follow on Instagram at Keys to Praise Studio, and we’ll definitely get some input and ideas on what you might be interested in hearing if, even if there’s topics that you’ve struggled with that you’d like some discussion on.


[00:45:04] That’s the easiest way to find me. There’s other links on that page where you can go to if you want to sign up for a piano teacher happy hour, or just be on the email list. You can find all that at the bio on Instagram.


[00:45:19] Andrea: All right, Amy. Thank you so much for being here.


[00:45:21] Amy Elmore: Thanks, Andrea.


[00:45:22] Andrea: We will include all the links you mentioned in the show notes for this episode at


[00:45:30] That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back next week.

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