Playing in a different key

I like to dabble on the piano. Just playing recreationally, mashing along to songs or chords that I like.

brown and white piano keys

If you’re not musical, the key a song is played in is the set of notes/chords that are used. It defines the feel of a song, how it sounds, happy or sad, and it also conventions that might be used. You might find some keys easier to play, with simpler chords or easier finger positioning.

Sometimes it can get a bit repetitive, with the same chords and the same tunes. And when that happens, I just shift gears and play in a different key.

That got me thinking. On a piano it’s easy to change the key… just play a different note. You can rapidly test new notes and see what happens, would, or could, the same hold true if trying new ideas, habits or approaches in life?

So what areas in life could this be applied to. The main criteria I think are –

  • Easy to try
  • Quick to get feedback
  • Easy to reverse
  • Nothing to lose
  • Helps unlock your creativity
  • helps build momentum in a new area

If you’re stuck try playing in a different key.

What could this look like in life?
I think there are some easy wins for applying this to work and business:

  • environment and workspace
  • people, tech and knowledge
  • mindset

But also, a warning…
I’m the first to get sidetracked onto a shiny new app, platform or gadget. Something my long-suffering wife can attest to. Watch out not to use the excuse of trying a new approach as a way to only ever try new things without ever actually getting anything done!

Environment & Workspace

The guys in the office always laugh at me moving my desk around. But I think it’s important to keep things fresh. Particularly as a business owner – you’re in it for the long term. Running and growing a business is hard, it’s not like if you’rean employee – you can’t just keep changing jobs for new challenges.

So for this reason, it’s important to keep your surroundings fresh to keep your energy levels high, find new ideas, and motivate your team.

Quick changes that I meddle with most months:

  • desk ornaments
  • desktop wallpaper
  • notebooks and stationary

Plus remote work locations are great to experiment with. Cafés, outdoors, different rooms and co-workspaces all have a place in my routine.

People, tech and knowledge

Changing who and how you work and solve problems can also gain a new perspective.

This ties into a previous post I’ve published about using movement to create energy when you’re stuck. No matter which area of life you’re stuck in, moving in any way (eg. a walk) seems to help builds momentum and energy in everything that you do.

How can this apply to you day-to-day –

  • create an inspirational playlist
  • get outside
  • jump on to YouTube or go on a course (I keep an ‘Inspiring’ playlist!)
  • dance
  • talk to a stranger
  • practice mindful/gratidude journaling


Whilst you can’t choose your emotions, you can choose how to respond to them. I’ve learnt several strategies and coping strategies over 6 years of running a business:

  • be mindful of what you can and can’t control
  • don’t fret about things you can’t control
  • write down stresses and worries somewhere you know that you can come back to to review later so that you clear them from your mind
  • be super clear on expectations
  • try to remove emotions from difficult work situations and focus on what’s best for the business
  • keep notes organised in a simple system with a shared list of actions

Overall, I’ve found it helpful to take a step back and look at my thoughts, emotions from a 10,000 ft perspective.

Perhaps if your current approaches, habits, or thoughts aren’t getting you your desired outcomes then its time to try playing in a different key.

Change the Melody, change the notes, try new approaches and build the life you want, one note at a time…

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