Breaking Big Goals into Smaller Goals for More Success
by Kerri Randall
It's funny how life works sometimes, when you get the exact message you need to hear at the exact moment you need to hear it. I was reading over my note in a recent newsletter I sent about how this is my birthday month. I'm going to be 30 on August 31st. I had mentioned how I'm not especially happy about it. Number one, I don't feel anywhere near 30. I still automatically go to check the box that says I'm in the 18-25 age group on any paperwork I need to fill out!
Number two, I'm a little sad and a little mad at myself that I haven't achieved everything I thought I would've by now.
So here I am, reading over that note in my newsletter. I jump over to my email inbox to continue cleaning it out, and I open a newsletter from Music Think Tank. The article is titled "4 Steps to Convert Goals into Results." It talks about how we set goals but automatically are aware of the fact that we can fail and not reach them. But the problem is usually that we don't set smaller goals along the way to help us reach that bigger one. I've heard that over and over again, and I personally still have work to do as far as reverse-engineering bigger goals AND sticking to those steps daily.
But what got me was this. The writer mentioned that she had a goal to win a Grammy in her twenties. She hit 30 without one and felt like a monumental failure. Because all she was focusing on was that she hadn't won that Grammy, she was having trouble recognizing all the rest of the achievements she had in her twenties.
Suddenly I feel less alone!
When I'm honest with myself, I never sat down and actually wrote my goals on paper until the last two or three years. Sure, I knew I wanted to be a successful musician, but I never concretely defined what that meant for me. Did it mean being signed to a record label? Being a solo artist? Being in a band? At any given moment in my twenties, I would've answered those questions differently based on current circumstances.
How many albums would I have recorded by age 30? How many tours would I have done? What kind of songs would I have written and/or sung? I never wrote any of that down or really took time to think it through. Which totally explains all the wheel-spinning I did and all the times I felt lost and sad because I wasn't getting anywhere. Well, no wonder nothing was happening. I hadn't written down my big goal and I hadn't broken it down into smaller goals, so not only did I not know where I was starting, I had no real idea where I was going or how I was going to get there!
I can tell you now what music success means to me, though. It's not tied to being signed to a record label. If I ever am, great. If not, maybe that's even better these days. I'll know I'm successful the day I wake up and can confidently say that all my bills are paid with income from music–performing, selling CDs, selling merch, etc. Plus enough extra to have a comfortable living, of course. Living gig to gig (i.e., paycheck to paycheck) just isn't the way to go for anyone, right?
Breaking big goals into smaller goals does a couple of things for you. First, it makes that bigger goal easier to get to when you take smaller bites. You know how to eat an elephant, right? One bite at a time. Second, it helps you see the path to the big goal more clearly. You know how you're going to get there, and you can also anticipate some of the roadblocks. Of course, there will still be some surprises along the way, but you'll have a better idea of what to do with them when you know where you're going.
Take your big goal and figure out all the steps you can possibly think of that will help you reach it. Then just take the first step. Don't worry about step two until you're done with step one. (I'm suddenly reminded of the movie "What About Bob?" and Dr. Leo's book Baby Steps…) Eventually, you'll get a momentum going that will be hard to stop!
What's your next step in reaching your big goals? Please share in the comments below or come and tell me on Facebook!
Kerri Randall is a singer, performer, writer, and…(wait for it)…fitness instructor. She has performed throughout Milwaukee and Wisconsin with multiple bands, and has even sung at the historic Pabst Theater with the Milwaukee Police Band and Jazz Ensemble. She is also a featured writer on Dotted Music (dottedmusic.com). Her passion is entertaining and inspiring others to think, laugh, and have fun. Kerri believes the artist community can only thrive when we all encourage and support each other!