“Music makes the people come together.” -Madonna 

I love music. And I don’t mean in the way of appreciating background noise to avoid awkward silence or to distract myself from the thoughts in my own mind. 

I love using it to connect to myself and others. To feel deeply. I use it to find presence in the current moments or to experience the nostalgic emotional return to the past. I digest it in the I know every lyric to every song ever heard kind of way

And according a study published in Psychology Today, there is proof to music adding value to your life. “Music triggers powerful positive emotions via autobiographical memories. A new neuroscience-based study has identified that if specific music evokes personal memories, these songs have the power to elicit stronger positive emotions than other stimuli, such as looking at a nostalgic picture.”

Music creates the soundtrack of our lives. I have so many times of my young life framed by music. 

My mom playing the old country song “No Charge” on our birthdays. 

My dad holding the recorder close to the record player to make cassette tapes. 

My Grandma and Grandpa Wood dancing through their living room on their anniversary to Glen Miller. 

Randy Travis playing on my Grandma and Grandpa Hahn’s old stereo. 

My mom making me dance with her to Boston or Fleetwood Mac before I could go out for the night. 

The Raffi tape that my littlest brother had to listen to every single night before falling asleep for an entire year. 

My dad’s subscription to Columbia House (who doesn’t remember 12 CDs for one cent?!)

Music brings the people together and helps makes the memories clearer. 

The “Fennimore Fight Song” played by the Mean Machine pep band and later “Varsity” by the UW marching band. 

Tupac, Biggie, and Snoop in my rebellious teens and Jay-Z and Dave Matthews in my college years. 

Concerts and clubs. Days on the boat with friends and family. 

Life changing worship moments. 

My wedding song. The lullabies I sang to my kids. Nights playing Rock Band and Just Dance with them as tweens. Dancing and signing and laughing at home and on vacation.

Hundreds of cycling and other group exercise classes. 

The Ironman start and finish lines and all of the training in between. 

And music connects us not just the positive memories, but to the full realness of life. Heartbreak. Angst. Death. Loneliness. 

Music is always there. 

I am not going to lie, this blog was selfishly so fun to have on my mind for a few weeks and also delightful to write. I could go on and on with my own personal memories, as almost all things in my life feel connected to music. But, my goal with my blog is not to ramble on senselessly about me, but to inspire you to create your own mental list, engaging in the fullness that music has to offer. And I also always want to give you a little take away, something you can take into the next year. Music can also help you reach goals.

So, here are 5 Unexpected Ways Music Can Help You Reach Your Goals

1. Music Changes Your Mood

As I demonstrated above, music is intricately connected to our emotions. It activates brain regions associated with reward, motivation, and arousal. Listening to music that you enjoy can bring about positive changes in your mood state.

2. Music Helps You Learn New Things

There is growing evidence to suggest that music education enhances learning across subjects, providing particularly strong benefits in the areas of language development and reading.

Music can sharpen your attention and help you remember things better. I still remember my home address song that my mom made up to help us learn it. 

3. Music Connects You to Others 

Many of us have goals related to connecting more often and more deeply with others. Music provides us with a fun and meaningful way to do this.

4. Music Gets You Moving

Music has rhythm, and rhythm gets us moving. Music and exercise make a great pair. Studies find that when listening to music, people run farther, pedal faster, and work out longer.

5. Music is Fun!

Music brings us pleasure. The ways we interact with music are fun- whether it is moving our bodies, singing, playing instruments, or listening to old records. Music triggers activity in the same brain structure that releases dopamine during sex and eating. It can be argued that we are actually hard-wired to enjoy music.

Each time I have trained for Ironman I have had a theme song(s) for the training and racing experience: 2009 was “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas; 2013 “Lose Yourself” by Eminem; and 2017 “I Like How it Feels” by Enrique Inglesias and “’Till I Collapse” by Eminem.  

My micro goal this week is to find my 2022 song. To not search lyrics or be methodical in the process. But to listen to be inspired. To follow my heart and emotion. 

As we head into the next year I urge you to reflect on this past year and set some goals for 2022. 

And find the ways to bring more music into your life. Don’t let a year go by without a kick ass soundtrack or a goal without a theme song. 

Have a safe and healthy NYE— see you in 2022!