Working Solo: Staying Motivated

There’s been a ton written about the importance of planning your goals. It's common knowledge that one of the best things you can do to make your dreams a reality is to put together a list of goals and then take steps to get those goals done. This is rarely as simple as it seems. Take a trip online and see all of the websites, programs and applications that are supposed to make this process simple and painless. The problem with goal setting (and achieving) is that we all have different goals (approaches and applications) and different personalities (methods and motivators). There doesn't seem to be one system for all. What we're going to discuss today is a good starting point in putting together some lists so that you have a strong foundation. We'll look at some of the universal problems in achieving your goals. From here you may try any one of the systems out there and see what works for you. In any case, you'll have set the ground work and not matter which system you end up using, you will be heading toward your goals along the way.

You're Special

One thing that most systems don't take into consideration is the fact that no two people work the same. There are provisions in most time management systems that allow for folks to try and discern the most productive time of day and try to work around that but there's a lot more to it than just the time of day. People have different ways of working and different motivators. Some people like to work under pressure, some hate it. Some people need to work in a neat and orderly place, some people thrive on chaos. Most people need structure, though the amount varies a lot between individuals. Some people need a lot of supervision and feedback, some very little. You get the point here. There are a lot of other variables that most systems don't take into consideration. Some just leave these questions wide open and leave it up to the individual to figure them out for themselves. The problem is that these issues are really important and may make the difference between a system working for you or not. Let's look at a couple.

One is the Loneliest Number

One of the major issues people have today in getting things done is that most things have to be done on your own. This means that not only do you have to get the job done, but you also have to figure out what’s important and what needs to be done. Just as important you have to try and find the motivation to get do these things on a daily basis. The fact is that a lot of people don't work well completely on their own. Most people work best within a system with some structure. Working with other people, it's easier to stay motivated and on course. It's all too easy to let things slide when you don't have any one waiting on results. It's easier to think that an item isn't as important when it's your own responsibility and no-one's reputation or job on the line. The problem is that if you have an important item on your list that must be done, you must find a way in make sure that it gets done. If you boss tells you that he needs that report by Friday morning by 9, it's a lot easier to put much more importance on it because somebody is waiting for it. It seems easier for most people to get things done when there are other people waiting on it and you're reputation is at stake. That's why when people are trying to lose weight and going on an exercise regimen, they are encouraged to tell somebody they trust about their plans. When there is somebody waiting on a particular project, there is a huge built in motivator for you to get that done. When you're on your own, that external motivator isn’t there.

Feedback and Community

Along the same lines, another big motivator that keeps you on goal is feedback and community. When you have a community of people that know about your goals, you can turn to them for advice and motivation. Sometimes just being able to have a conversation about what you're working on and what you plan to do in the future may provide enough motivation to last for weeks. It certainly can help when you're not sure what to do next or if you're questioning the goal in the first place. There is also that built in motivator that we talked about in the last point. Suddenly there are other people that know about what you're doing and you may feel pressure to get things done just to keep up with the community. Community is also great when things aren’t going well. It’s comforting to know that there are others out there going through the same kinds of things that you are. It may also give you an idea of what the trouble is and finding a solution.

Welcome to the Show

It’s no longer enough these days to just be a musician. You need to be able to run your music career like a business. That means that most of the time you’re going to be doing a lot of things at once. Most of these things won’t be your area of expertise. You are literally a one person show. Even if you join a band, these same principles of running a business still apply. You won’t have the money to get all of the help you need so you’re going to have to do a lot of things on your own. You will have to start working your music career like a business.

As a business you’re going to have to set apart some time to make some plans. Knowing how you work, how to keep motivated and on course is critical for your success. At the end of the day, you’re on your own and it’ll be up to you to make sure that you get all that needs to be done…well, done.

Next we’ll take a look of some specific examples from the problems listed above and find some solutions.

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