Each year we’re presented a clean slate. The opportunity to take what we’ve learned the year before and apply it to the one that lies in front of us. No matter how successful your 2017 was, or the roadblocks you may have hit along the way, 2018 presents the perfect opportunity to dust yourself off and make it the most prosperous, successful year yet. Here are three ways to make 2018 your most successful year yet.
Be honest with yourself
Was 2017 a rough year? Did you feel stuck, procrastinate, and fall behind on making progress with your goals? Or was 2017 your best year yet, filled with opportunities, climbing social media numbers, and higher show attendance? Whatever 2017 was like for you, part of improving on it the following year is getting honest about what it was really like and then asking yourself: why?
If you found yourself procrastinating and hardly had more done at the end of the year than you did at the start, have the difficult conversation with yourself to find out why. Maybe you just weren’t feeling the music you were putting out. Maybe you’re still not clear on your brand and so you couldn’t make compelling social media posts. Maybe you’re not making (and sticking to) a schedule, so nothing is getting done. It’s not an easy conversation, but if you want to really improve on that the following year, you need to get honest about what didn’t work, why, and how you can fix it.
On the flip side, if you had a great year or even great moments, you want to ask yourself what you did differently at those specific times that led to an increase in show attendance/social media engagement/new fans/etc.
It’s all about looking at the year from a completely neutral standpoint and then asking “why?” That’s how we grow.
Create goals for 2018
You can’t hit your target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. It’s all well and good to have vague goals like “I want to sign to a label” or “I want to increase my social media presence,” but the more intangible your goals are, the more difficult it’s going to be for you to actually achieve them. Not to mention, the more abstract, the more you can give yourself excuses for not hitting your targets. That’s why I suggest getting crystal clear on a few key goals for 2018, and then breaking them down into smaller, more manageable goals throughout the year.
For instance, if you want to have a draw of 100 people per show by next November, you need to break that down into more manageable goals throughout the year to help you get there, otherwise you’ll just be running in 20 directions trying to make your goals come to fruition, without ever actually working towards them in a focused way. Without specific focus, we almost never reach the goal we set out for, and this, in my opinion, is where many artists trip up. To have goals is wonderful, but if you don’t have a very specific plan to get to that very specific goal, you’re just going to burn yourself out hoping something sticks.
Instead, take measured steps each month to get towards that goal. Back to the 100 people per show example, break that down into ways that make sense for your band. How are you going to get 100 people? Does that mean you have to go to more shows and meet more people, and build relationships so that people actually want to go to your show? How many shows does that mean you’ll need to attend per week? How many new people will you have to meet? Hint on this particular goal: you’re more likely to get people to your shows if you find support in person rather than online. The bonds and connections made in person are almost always much stronger than those formed online.
Breaking down your goals into weekly or monthly tasks, and setting smaller goals that lead you to your larger goal will not only help you stay focused, but it will help keep you on track. If one of your mini goals is to have 50 people coming out by July, so that you can get to 100 by November, then if come July you don’t have those 50 people, you’ll still have time to re-evaluate your plan, see what’s not working, and set in place a new one to stay on track for your larger November goal.
Create (and enforce) a schedule
We all lead incredibly busy lives, and most musicians work 40+ hours per week on top of trying to gig a few times a month, network at shows, and find time to actually write new songs, manage social media, book shows, etc. It can be overwhelming—but it has to be done.
There’s no way around this one, in the early days you will have to wear more hats than your comfortable with, and to do that successfully you’ll have to set and stick to a schedule. For instance, maybe on Sundays you schedule out social media posts for the week, or on Mondays you set aside 2 hours after work to focus exclusively on writing new songs. Even if that means sitting there with pen and paper and nothing coming to mind for 2 hours, you stick to it, and refuse to allow yourself to be distracted by Facebook or texts, or anything else. It’s part of the process and especially in the beginning, you’re likely going to have to really break in that kind of discipline to do the things you don’t want to do, in the name of the larger goal you’re after.
Schedule out time for things like songwriting, social media, and networking on a regular weekly basis, as well as things like booking, goal revision, marketing, and PR on a monthly basis. If you have the funds, consider hiring someone to help out with PR, marketing, and booking to alleviate the burden of performing those specific skill sets.
Keep in mind, your entire schedule should not be filled to the brim with work—you have to allow some time in there for play as well, as its an essential part of the creative process. But if you want to make it as a DIY artist (even so far as to eventually have a label discover you so you aren’t DIY), you’ll need to put in the time, effort, and commitment to making these things happen on your own. Then and only then will others start to take notice.
So get on those goals, get a schedule in place, and don’t wait until January 1st to get started. Tomorrow is a new day, and there’s no time like the present to start making your dreams come true and carving your career. Success comes to those with determination, discipline, and clear-cut goals.