[Editors Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
So here we are. We’ve reached the end of another year, and odds are you’re either celebrating the major wins that 2018 brought, scratching your head at some of the hiccups you ran into or, if you’re like most of us, doing a bit of both.
But the end of a year is a time for deep, personal reflection, while the start of a new one allows the perfect opportunity to start with a clean slate and pursue the future you desire.
Let’s look at a few ways you can honor all that was in 2018, while looking towards 2019 as the year of YOU.
Take Stock of 2018
If you truly want to set yourself up for success in the New Year, you have to be willing to take an honest look at what this year held. Try to be honest with yourself—what did you do that didn’t work? What could you have done better? What did you fall short on?
Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back and make note of what did work. What did audiences respond to? What songs were major hits with your fan base? What strategy proved effective?
By stripping it all down and looking at your year in review from an objective place, you’re able to better assess how to improve, while doing more of what worked.
Make Your List of Goals
It wouldn’t be a New Year if you didn’t have at least a few goals to work towards. While I always think you should be realistic in your goals, I say throw at least one stretch goal on there for good measure. This might not be something you expect to accomplish in the next year, but something you’re working towards in the long run, like a label deal or a prime spot on a festival stage.
Try to be specific and tap into the specific feeling that accomplishing that is going to create—after all, that’s what we’re after in the long run isn’t it? The sense of accomplishment that you get when an audience loses their mind during a chorus, or the feeling of connection when a fan sends you a personal note to let you know what a song meant to them.
For this reason (and many more), it’s always good to remember what you’re working towards and why you do what you do. It’s what keeps you going during the not-so-glamorous parts of your career.
So, while you want to have that stretch goal, you also want to have a list of manageable mini goals that you can work towards throughout the year. For instance, playing a certain venue in your city, doing a two-week tour during the summer, finishing up your new EP.
It can be beneficial to have number based goals as well like, “Hit 5,000 follows on Instagram”, but just remember those can be harder to reach and always require a set strategy behind them. So if you are doing a numbers based goal (follower count, sales numbers, show turnout) just remember you have to have a plan to actually get there. (This is true of all goals, really)
Make a Plan
Time to make a plan!
Now, if you’re an organizing nerd like me, you probably love this part. If you’re a bit more “whatever will be, will be”, this part might take some getting used to. But I promise it’s a pivotal part of the process and it will set you up for success in any endeavor.
Really, it’s as simple as sitting down and making a plan for your goals. Figure out what you need to do to make those goals a reality, and then work backwards to understand how to make that happen.
For instance, if you want to have a more engaged social media following you might first assume, “Ok, well I need to create more engaging content…” – and that’s accurate. But you want to get even more specific. Ask yourself, “What content gets the best response from our fans?”
If you aren’t yet sure (and Facebook/Instagram Insight and Twitter Analytics aren’t helping), start experimenting. Post photos, videos, lives, quotes, behind the scenes content, just share share share and see what’s sticking. Then, do more of that. Pay attention to what works, and slowly start incorporating more of it, but if you ask me, I say never completely stop playing and experimenting.
You want your social media pages to be cohesive and make sense for your brand, but you grow by experimenting here and there, so don’t lose that spirit.
Challenge Yourself to Do Something Scary Every Few Months
I think this one is a good life goal, honestly. Every few months, challenge yourself to do something that scares you.
You know that feeling you get when something sounds both really exciting and really terrifying? When you know it could be an important step in your personal or career growth, but it also makes you sort of sick to your stomach? That’s where growth lives. Do that thing.
This will be different for everyone, but my guess is when you read that, at least one or two things popped into your head. Go put it in motion.
Celebrate Your Successes
We’ve talked a lot about taking stock of 2018 and planning for a brighter future, and those are all important steps to a productive, successful career, but don’t forget: you’ve got to take time to celebrate your successes and bask in the moment.
So many of us are guilty of glossing over the most exciting parts of our career, and ruminating over the smallest struggles. Don’t forget to celebrate yourself and all you’ve done. We have to learn to enjoy what we have, when we have it, and to really bask in it.
You’ve earned this, so let yourself be excited.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.