When the topic of goal setting comes up, it seems most musicians run
for cover. From the way they so frantically avoid dealing with the subject,
you'd think somebody just cranked up the new Bee Gees record.
I'm here to tell you that planning for the future doesn't have to be
that painful. In fact, you'll find that getting on friendlier terms
with the noble art of goal setting will propel you toward reaching your
musical dreamsnot to mention giving you more juice and energy with
which to pursue them.
you may be one of those people who says, "Planning never gets me anywhere.
I always run into brick walls and end up bitter and frustrated. No,
I just like to let things happen and let nature take its course."
nothing wrong with letting your instincts guide you toward your true
passion in life, I must say that taking the "let-things-happen" approach
too far can lead to an equal amount of bitterness and frustration.
How else can
you explain the slew of cynical, wandering musicians who populate most
music scenes? They muddle through gig after gig, waiting for nature
to take its course, and then suddenly wake up one day and wonder why
they're no better off today then they were five years ago.
If you read
nothing else in this article, at least contemplate this: When you just
"let things happen" with your musical career, you take the steering
wheel of success out of your own hands. You'll always be at the mercy
of someone or something else. In essence, you lose control over where
you really want to take your skills and talents.
succeed in music use goal setting to get back in the driver's seat and
step on that accelerator pedal known as "accomplishment." (Pardon the
poetic analogies, but they help make the point.)
The good news
is that you most likely already possess the skills to set goals effectively.
Have you ever written a song? Have you ever gone into a studio to record
your music? If so, you've probably been setting goals and didn't even
I'm talking about: When you showed up at the studio for your first recording
session, what did you do? Did you look at your fellow band members and
say, "Geez, I wonder what we should do now? Anybody got any good song
some of you have done this (I talk to local studio engineers, you know),
but most of you realize that would be nonsense! You've got money invested
in the session, you've had a dream to put out your own CD for years,
plus you've got fans who are eagerly awaiting the recording... you'd
be nuts to go in there unprepared!
done that, have you?
not. You went into that studio with a game plana list of songs, who's
playing what parts, when the harmonies will come in, maybe even a title
for the album. That's all that goal setting is: knowing what you want
to do before you set out to do it.
So in the
same way you'd be wasting your time and money not being prepared to
go into that studio, so too are you wasting your precious resources
by being unprepared when it comes to your overall career. Does that
make sense to you?
to goal setting is knowing that it isn't a rigid science. The plans
you come up with are fluidyou can expect them to evolve and change
over time. This is yet another concept you should be familiar with,
especially if you're a songwriter. Many songwriters I know (myself included)
write using just a guitar or piano and voice.
many of these artists create a new composition, they often hear much
more than that sparse arrangement in their heads. The drums, the bass
part, maybe an entire string section... all of it is there in the mind's
ear. Perhaps you create the same way.
Then you take
this skeleton of a song and show it to your other band members, explaining
to each the parts you hear ringing through your gray matter. But, as
you songwriters well know, the song the band ends up playing and recording
is usually quite different from the version you originally heard in
your head. However, the newer version is almost always better.
here is this: The plans you come up with when goal setting will change
as you work toward them. But the mere act of coming up with an idea,
visualizing it in your mind and acting on it will drive you to create
something. While the end result isn't always the one you expected, it's
usually one you can learn and grow from and hopefully be proud of.
yourself, through advance planning, to head off in a specific directionwhatever
direction that isyou create the opportunities from which real success
can be realized. By waiting for things to happen, though, you set the
stage for stagnation. That's why setting goals for yourself is so important.
are eight quick and easy tips for getting the most out of goal setting:
- Decide specifically what it is you want. Before you set out to conquer
your goal, you have to know what it is you really want. Do you have
a clear idea of what you're going after? Vague concepts about some
day succeeding in the music business lead to vague, weak actions in
attaining them. However, detailed target goals (selling 3,000 units
of your album, playing 15 gigs a month, making at least $10,000 in
the first quarter of next year) keep you focused and on track.
- Write it down. Don't keep your goals in your head. Put ink to paper
and commit them to a solid form. Writing down your goals adds another
element of conviction to your intent to reach them. All of my accomplishmentspublishing
Spotlight, writing my book, putting out an independent release with
my former band Beat Patrolstarted as notes to myself jotted down
in a notebook. Don't overlook the power of the pen.
- Set a deadline. Remember how you always got off your butt and went
to work the night before a term paper was due? Deadlines have a way
of motivating us to act. So do commitments we make to ourselves and
others. Set a time limit for achieving each stage of your goal-setting
action plan. And then do whatever it takes to meet those deadlines.
- Make a list of what's in it for you. This is the fun part. Compile
a list of ways you will benefit from achieving the goal (or goals).
By doing so, you examine your true motivation for even wanting it
in the first place. Sometimes you'll discover the reasons that drive
you aren't the most productive (such as being lured by the prospect
of making gobs of money, even though your heart isn't really into
when you have a goal that's fueled by a genuine desire and true belief
in your ability to attain it and enjoy the benefits, you'll be energized
and ready to take on the challenges.
- Anticipate the obstacles you'll encounter. Make no mistake about
it, there will be bumps along the road that leads to your goal. There
will be things that go wrong, people who disappoint you, schedules
that move slower than you'd like... But don't let any of them stop
you! Just try to anticipate some of the difficulties you'll face,
then imagine how effectively you'll deal with them when they arise.
- Identify all the information, people and organizations that can
help you achieve your goal. Start gathering data on the people, places
and information sources you'll most likely need (clubs, agents, radio
stations, magazines, graphic artists, producers, etc.) to get to your
goal faster. You can't do it completely on your ownremember, it's
a business of people... and timely information.
- Create your plan. Now write down the first draft of your plan of
action. To do this, start with the goal itself and work backwards
through the process. Keep breaking every stage of the plan down into
its most basic tasks (such as phone calls, packages to be mailed,
booking studio time, setting up meetings, writing songs).
a short list of the primary things that need to be done firstbut
make sure they're basic, attainable steps. For instance, if your goal
is to get a record deal, the first thing you'd do would not be to
call Atlantic Records. There is a whole series of preliminary steps
you'd want to take long before you ever got near a record label.
- Act on it now! Finally, and most importantly, you have to get busy
working on the plan you've created. It's tragic, but a lot of great
ideas have sadly withered away because the person who came up with
them never took action. Don't let this be your fate. Don't wait for
nature to takes its mystical course. Put the art and craft of goal
setting to work to fire your juices and give you an immense boost
toward getting what you want from life.
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