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Musical transitions

TIGNUM Thoughts

May 25th, 2018
By Jake Marx

One of the biggest challenges executives face today is trying to be your best every day at work. An even bigger challenge is trying to be your best at home. This is exacerbated if you are a parent since kids rarely understand how your work demands have somehow left you fatigued. Almost every parent that I coach starts off our calls with, "Forget about work; what I really struggle with is not snapping at my kids when I get home." Sometimes, even when you are trying to do a good work-to-home transition, your energy is still not quite there. If you've ever felt this way, one strategy that may quickly replenish your emotional and cognitive resources is to create your own walkout song. This song can help you get your energy up and elevate your mood right before you walk in the door.

The therapeutic effects of music have been studied so much that a new field, neuromusicology, has spawned. Neuromusicology has taught us that music not only increases the mood-enhancing hormones of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, it also decreases the stress hormone, cortisol. If you were to make a neurotransmitter/neurohormone cocktail to create the feeling you would want to have when you walk through the door to greet your family, this combination would be it.

Most athletes have been using neuromusicology for years without even knowing it. You can see them listening to their anchor songs on the sidelines or at the starting point of a race to transition them into their optimal game mode. During my American football days, this meant blasting Metallica in the locker room until we were ready to run through the wall. So the question is: what is the right music for you to enter your office at your best, to deliver the best presentation, or to walk into your home at your best? When I'm switching to my parent mode, I try to choose something slightly slower and more melodic with lyrics that resonate with me. I use artists like Jack Johnson, The Avett Brothers, Norah Jones, Amos Lee, and Xavier Rudd. What would work for you? Is it reggae, classical, rock, country, or something else?

Here are some proven tips to help you get started. Try making your own transition playlist or create a couple of stations on whatever music service you use. Make sure you include some variety and novelty. I’m sure you’ve experienced that even your favorite songs can burn you out if you listen to them on repeat. Research has shown that this familiarity can diminish the emotional impact of the song. Once you have the music cued up, decide where and when you’ll use it. You could put your playlist on as soon as you start your commute. Or, simply listen to one song in your driveway as you set your intentions before walking into the house. Making a plan is critical to ensuring you'll actually follow through.

Finding some music to quickly replenish your emotional and cognitive resources is the perfect way to begin a great transition and set the stage for you to be a focused, intentional partner and parent when you walk through the door.

Here are some premade playlists from different music services if you want some extra help getting started (click on the genre to access the playlist):

Available on Spotify:

Available on Pandora:

Available on Amazon (dependent on location):

I hope you enjoy the benefits of Ruling Your Impact, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you use music to help improve your performance.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Other Thoughts

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