[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re sitting down to get some work done, ready to chip away at your mounting “To Do” list, and ten minutes later you realize you’ve somehow ended up on your phone, gotten sucked into TikTok videos, not doing anything at all.
It happens to all of us. We set out to get something done but then, somehow, we get distracted and before we know it that precious time we’ve carved out for ourselves to get things done has passed and we’re no further along than we were the day before.
Thankfully, this phenomenon isn’t a mystery—we know exactly what causes us to get distracted, to abandon our tasks and seek refuge in silly videos, and we also know how to combat it.
1. Get clear on your goals.
Remember what I was saying about losing track of what you’re meant to be doing? A huge part of what causes that is not really being that clear on what you should be doing in the first place.
When we know we have to get work done but we aren’t really sure on what that is, it’s very easy for us to lose focus.
So, the first thing you need to do is to really get clear on what your goals actually are. Many of us think we know what our goals are but in reality they’re incredibly vague. And you can’t reach a goal that you can’t name.
A goal is something you can measure, and that you have control over. Saying you’d like to sign to a label is not really a goal; saying you’d like to play a festival is not a goal. Those might be things you want to do, they might be ideas you have, but they are not goals.
For instance, if your “goal” is to play a festival then that’s not really the goal, that’s the end result. The goal is to increase your social media engagement by the time festival submissions open so that the festival takes notice. Or your goal is to build a relationship with a few different bands on the festival so you have a shot at getting in front of the right people.
In short, the goal is the thing you have ultimate control over, that leads you to the end result.
2. Make a plan.
What’s a goal without a plan? An idea!
Once you know what your goals are, start to put the pieces together and map out how you’re going to get from where you are now to the place you need to be to achieve your goals.
For instance, using the above example of wanting to build social media engagement by the time festival submissions open, you might ask yourself “What do I need to do to make that happen by X date?” and then break it down. That could be:
- Getting clear on your brand so you know what to post about.
- Creating a content calendar so you know what day you post about which topic.
- Scheduling your posts throughout the campaign Planoly or similar.
- Sharing your content across all of your channels so that nobody’s missing out, and so you’re giving yourself the best possible chance at building an audience of fans.
- Making sure your content has clear calls-to-action, and is set up for analytics so you can chart what’s working and what’s falling short.
- Popping on for 30 minutes per day to respond to comments and build followers through genuine connections, and so on.
Then you set a time to do all that. And I mean, actually set a time and put it on the calendar, because if you don’t schedule it in, it’s not happening
3. Find a mentor.
This is something that I end up recommending to creatives of all types, all the time, and it might not be high on your list of priorities, but it will literally change everything about how you view your career.
A mentor is simply someone who can guide you along on your journey, offering advice as you go based on their own experiences, and based on listening to you voice your goals and desires. A mentor will hold you accountable, as well as motivate and inspire you to go farther, deeper.
They can literally be anyone who you trust—someone you know personally, perhaps with more experience than you, or someone completely objective who isn’t afraid to challenge you and give you constructive critiques on your work. Our friends over at Soundfly offer the latter, a goal-oriented coaching service designed to pair musicians with vetted and trained mentors in their field who work to accelerate one’s path toward their short and long term musical goals.
Finding a mentor was one of the most important things I ever did for my career personally—I’m grateful every day for it, and I am trying to give back as well. I am now taking on mentees myself as both a Soundfly Mentor and through a subscription-based community I founded called Thrive.
4. Embrace your community.
Alright so the fourth thing you can do to move closer to your goals in a daily capacity is constantly refer back to the community around you.
You are not the only person out there doing this—and that’s a great thing! There are tons of other people who have gone before you, who can offer support, guidance, and wisdom to you as you go through these different trials, tribulations, and even successes! And vice versa; you can offer them support in their paths.
I truly believe having a strong community of support, coupled with a mentor is the difference between those that make it and those that burn out trying.
5. Work towards your goals in bite-size increments every day.
One thing I’ve noticed that rings true for myself and all my artist friends who are seeing success is that they all do one very important thing:they work towards their goals incrementally every single day.
Even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day, spend at least that much time daily working on your business instead of in your business.
That means, do not just update your social media channels, or try to wrap up a mix, and call it a day, develop a checklist of small things you can do to grow your audience, your relationships, and your career in addition to that stuff. That’s how these work agenda items will eventually fold into your ultimate goals.
It’s like working out and exercising—you could do the same amount of sit-ups every single day, but if you add five more into your routine every other day, eventually you’ll be inserting and embedding growth into your practice.
Spending just 30 minutes a day on growing your career isn’t just useful because of the work you complete in that time, but because it sends a signal to your brain that this is something that’s important enough to work on every day. It keeps it top of mind, which means it brings you more opportunities, more creativity, more inspiration, simply because it’s always present.
It’s pretty remarkable, and it’s a must-do for artists who want to be successful.
Wrapping up, I have one quick takeaway for you:
Remember that it’s okay if your goals change, or if you pivot as you go. The important thing is simply that you have clarity and you have movement—constant progress towards your goals every single day.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more, and the founder of the THRIVE mentorship community, as well as being a Soundfly Mentor.