Happy New Half-Year

If you blinked, you may not have noticed, but the first half of 2007 has come and gone. Or maybe it’s dragged on for you like it might never be over. Or maybe you’re thinking, “huh? Why is this guy talking about half years? Who cares?”

To be honest, I suppose there’s nothing all that special about half years. However, we tend to start out new years with grandiose plans of all we’re going to try and accomplish. Sometimes those plans are realistic, and sometimes they aren’t. Often, though, we lose sight of them after a while, or get pulled off on tangents, and the year winds its way down, and we’re not much nearer to where we’d hoped to be at the end of the year than we were at the beginning. That is where half years come in handy.

The half-year break just seems like a convenient time to sit back and take a look at the goals you had at the beginning of the year, and how far you’ve come in your quest to reach them. Or maybe it might be a time to reassess those goals, and whether they are still relevant to your life today. Maybe there were developments along the way that have given you a new sense of perspective or purpose. Perhaps continuing to pursue the goals you had at the beginning of the year would only represent stubbornly doing something just because you said you would, rather than because it is still worth doing.

I can tell you the past half-year has turned out a whole lot different than I’d been hoping or expecting. While I always tend to have many more things I’d like to do than I have time in the day/week/month, there was one very specific goal I had at the outset. It was something I’d hoped to have gotten to a significant milestone on by the end of March, but which I have yet to do. Oh, I’ve done some of the supporting work en route to that milestone, and the way I’ve approached some of that work may actually make what I deliver better than it would have been had I focused more closely on the specific goal. I’ve also gotten distracted by some other projects, though. Some got me nowhere, and others still look like they might hold some promise somewhere down the line. Nothing’s ever a sure thing in this songwriting business, so “looking like they might hold some promise” is at least mildly reassuring.

I’ve also written more new songs already this year than I wrote in the past couple of years combined. If you’ve been following my bulletins and blogs, you’ve already heard two of those (“Elizabeth, Lately” and “Spam It”). While writing and recording those might have been “distractions” in the sense of working on the specific goal I’d had in mind, writing new songs is part and parcel of what I do, and what I need to do, as a songwriter. Without the songs, all the business-oriented goals in the world wouldn’t mean much.

I look at years and goals as being a bit like long distance trips. You can try and plan out the exact route to get you from here to where you want to end up, but it’s unlikely you’ll have a great trip if you stick too rigidly to your plan. Perhaps the freeway is tied up in one place, and a detour through the mountains might be a nice breath of fresh air (probably literally in this case), or the motel you’d hoped to stay in is closed, so you’ll need to try somewhere else, maybe even in another city. Or maybe there’s bad weather in the Texas panhandle, so it might be time to try the northern route instead. Heck, did you even want to end up in New York City in the first place? Maybe Maine might be nicer?

Okay, I profess to being one of those types who tends toward meticulously planning trips, often months in advance, and down to the turns to get to the motels where I’ve made guaranteed reservations. It tends to bug me when things don’t work out, be it because something closed unexpectedly, the motel I’d booked is really a rat hole, or I get tied up in traffic for a bunch of hours and don’t have time to do everything I’d wanted to do. Sometimes, though, you just have to roll with the flow. As long as you’re heading in the right direction, does the route you’re taking matter all that much, especially if you make the most of the experiences you have en route? Sometimes the best experiences end up coming from detours.

At some point, though, you do have to take stock of your direction, and readjust for your new course. Better to do that somewhere en route than to wait until the end of the trip and find out either you’ve arrived at the wrong destination or the destination just isn’t as attractive to you at this point as it was when you started. It just seems to me that, if we’re talking about years and goals, the half-year point is as good a place as any.

So, happy new half-year, and happy journeys en route to wherever your end-of-the-year destination may be!