Most New Years Resolutions die young, but you can adapt this one word as a lifestyle, to get it so in your body that you don’t have to think about it anymore. It’s a tattoo that you wear in order to remind yourself where your priorities lie in 2016. Allow it to serve as a conduit, a wormhole, from your current state of “Oh, I don’t know, I just want to take some time off” into your goals for conquering 2016. (or any year you’re heading into)
This episode is also available as a video
This week on SOS Studio Sessions, we’re trying something new.This episode was released on both YouTube (video) and iTunes (audio). I’d love to hear your feedback about this format, since I’d like to consider doing this into 2016. Send me a tweet on Twitter or drop me an email and let me know your thoughts!
A one-word goal is ideal for people need to have a clear focus over a long stretch of time. It allows you to take your eye off of the monthly sprints of the calendar and expand into 3, 6, or 12 month marathons. But just like a marathon, you can’t do the whole thing without smaller training sessions, strengthening your muscles and improving your stamina.
This is not about getting bogged down in the details. For each major goal there is going to be hundreds of smaller tasks to get you there. And it would be so easy to only see the stress of the tasks and lose sight of the bigger picture. But this is like training or like a workout. If your goal is to gain 10 pounds of muscle, you’re not going to spend 10 hours a day, 5 days a week at the gym doing cardio AND weightlifting AND yoga, you’re going to go on specific days for a short amount of time, and really focus on 1 muscle group and exhaust that. Then give it time to rebuild while you work something else out the next time. By breaking it down into smaller chunks, you make it more efficient, more enjoyable, and more economical to achieve your larger goal of gaining 10 pounds of muscle.
Another smart way to think of this is “The CEO” versus “The Worker Bee,” coined by the very smart Chase Reeves over at Fizzle.co. In order to know that you’re working on the right thing right now, you have to step out and see the big picture as a CEO would. But then the success of it all, the honey, does come back down to the minutia, the details of the small tasks from a to B. But in order to get from A to B, you have to have already planned out A to Z. Watch Chase’s description here.
Find Your Word
First, review this last year. 2015. If you can, write down the things that you accomplished this year and the things that you learned. Multiple people that do this lock themselves away from all distractions and take the time to write it down in a book, rather than typing. You feel more connected. If you have analytics built into your website, look and see what pages were visited most, how many albums you sold through iTunes, how many people subscribed to your newsletter, how many songs you started, how many songs you finished… try to collect as much data as you can in all of the fields that interest you moving forward. Now take note of what was awesome and exceeded your goals and what sucked and could have been better. If you don’t have any of this data, Then just remember what you can and focus on remembering the positive as well as the negative and write that down.
Next, take a deep breath to clear your mind and write down your goals, big and small. Achievable and pipe dream. I mentioned I want to record a new album and spend more time with family. Maybe you want to grow your newsletter to 1000 dedicated fans or play more live shows. Maybe you want to get signed to a publishing house in LA. Write down these big goals but fully realize they’re not all going to be achievable in one year if you truly want to succeed at them. At a certain point, the more you take on will just dilute the others.
Check to see if any of your goals can be nested within another. For example, if you have “record a demo record” and “get signed to a publishing house” as goals, then recording a record should actually be listed UNDER “get signed to a publishing house” because it would be one of the steps toward your larger goal.
Now step back and look at everything and see if you can find any themes. Any word that you’ve written multiple times or something that would encapsulate the processes for the 2-3 biggest goals on your list.
Break It Down
Define the larger tasks that have to be completed at a certain time in order to reach your final goal. So, on a calendar, you’d have the goal completed in December maybe but there have to be 3 major things completed in March, July, and November in order for that goal to happen. So you’ve now just taken a year view and broken it down into 4 smaller chunks. Then each of those chunks has tasks within it that dissect it further until you’re left with seemingly simple every day tasks that are propelling you forward all the way through the rest of your year.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be linear. If your word is community, for example, your focus might be on the every day conversations coming your way on social media and email and making your audience’s lives better. So how can you account for that on a calendar? Most of it you can’t but you can schedule a chunk of time each day to really focus on social media and set it aside as work time. And you can also set up mile markers for yourself of rebrand all social media channels by this date or send out monthly newsletter or XYZ. Whatever you decide, make it deliverable. Rather than saying “I’m going to improve my youtube channel in 12 weeks,” say “I’m going to respond to every comment on my youtube channel within 6 hours for 12 weeks.” Or “I’m going to post a new video every week for 12 weeks.”
If there’s a lot in front of you and you’re wondering what to do first, start with what excites you because that will give you the most energy. Sometimes it’s a little tasks that you’re excited about that will turn into the bigger projects that have the most meaning. Embrace the power of momentum.
As a great place to start, I recommend listening to a short podcast I recorded about figuring out exactly what that first step is, and you’ll often be surprised that the true first step is literally the simplest option in front of you.
If you’re looking to change your lifestyle for a year, to focus on things that are currently out of your reach but promised to you on the horizon, you have to wander far away from your comfort zone. The great part about this is that that bigger picture is the CEO stuff. It’s the bigger picture stuff of just imagining what your goal is and then breaking it down into the smaller steps of how to get there. And those smaller steps are probably completely within your comfort zone. These are the worker bee steps that, as long as you keep your head down and stay focused, you’ll continue to make small steps toward your goals. And your comfort zone will follow.
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Thanks for Listening!
Thank you so much for a great 2015! Here’s to an incredibly, prosperous, fulfilling 2016.
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(but you don't have to do this alone)
Occasional resources, tips, and tools for the independent recording artist so you never miss a beat.