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Using SMART Goals for Musical Achievement

Leighann Hodgkins

January 3, 2018

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It's the new year and you're inspired to set some new goals to grow as a musician. But, don't fall for setting a resolution! Use SMART goals instead. 

This time of year, almost everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions. If you’re looking to grow as a musician, your resolutions may include practicing more, joining a band, or getting that leading role in the school musical.

Are you falling for the New Years goal-setting syndrome?

But having vague, general goals like these almost never work out. In fact, only about 8% of people ever achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Yikes! And, setting aside the whole 'New Years' thing, this can happen any time of year where you feel like you’re working hard but not really seeing improvement.

So if setting a resolution doesn't work, what does? 

Here’s what you can do instead: set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound.

Let’s say you’re a drummer and you want to start or join a band. Here’s what it might look like:

  1. Get Specific: “I’m playing drums for a rock band that performs a mix of cover tunes and originals. There are four other members and we meet once a week.”
  2. Make It Measurable: “I’m working with my instructor to learn 10 new songs.”
  3. Be Sure It’s Achievable: “I’m practicing 30 minutes a day and learning one new song per week.”
  4. Make It Relevant and Meaningful: “I can only grow so much by practicing by myself and playing along with recordings. So I want to have more fun, play live concerts and be challenged to reach my potential!”
  5. Make It Time Bound: “I’ll be playing with my new band within the next three months.”

Bonus tip: evaluate and review along the way.

And here’s a bonus tip to turn your goal from SMART to SMART-ER by evaluating and reviewing your progress along the way: “I set a target of learning one new song per week. Am I on track or have I fallen behind?”

The next time you set a goal - don’t fall for the New Year’s syndrome. Increase your chances of success by using SMART goals! 

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