Making It In The Music Business (Pt. 2) // Tim Houlihan

BHAG’s vs. Bricks

In the first part of this series, we talked about what happens next after you realize your desire to have a career in music. This installment is about the different types of goals required to accomplish your dreams. 

Everybody knows it takes hard work to reach our dreams, but having goals makes it easier to get there. 

There are two types of goals to use. The first is called a Brick. Bricks are small goals that contribute to a larger goal. Bricks are important to our mental wellbeing – if we don’t have small wins, we’ll go nuts. For me, a Brick was playing a top club in Minneapolis. 

The second is called a BHAG (pronounced BEE-hag). BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. My BHAG is to play at a folk festival, like Winnipeg or Kerrville. BHAG’s remind us of our dreams when we’re feeling overwhelmed. 

Here’s a few tips on how to use Bricks and BHAGs:
Start with a BHAG. It’s great to start with a monstrous goal (“I want to play the Kerrville Folk Festival.”). BHAGs can be shorter term – like 2 or 3 years out. They can change (although it’s best to be committed and loyal to your goals as long as you can) over time, too. 
Work Backwards. Once you have a BHAG written down (always a higher likelihood of success when you write down your goals), work backwards to identify what you need to do to reach your BHAG. These will become Bricks. If you want to play Bonnaroo, go to school on what Bonnaroo believes is important in an act. 
Anticipate Trouble. As you know, not everything goes exactly as you plan in life. You will serve yourself well if your mental plan includes dealing with setbacks. If your Brick is to build a summer tour, then think through the problems that might arise. Having the list of what-if’s will ease your mind, even if they never get used. 
Create Milestones. Use your Bricks to reach milestones and celebrate them when you achieve them. If your BHAG was to work with a top producer for your next record and one of your Bricks was to get a meeting with him, I encourage you to celebrate getting that meeting. Feel good about it and check it off the list. 
Don’t Give Up. Grammy-award winning songwriter Shawn Colvin once said that it took her 10 years to become an overnight success. Don’t let the world decide how you’re doing – YOU decide how you’re doing. As long as your Bricks continue to edge you closer to your BHAG, keep doing them. 

In the last part of the series, I’ll talk about how to select the most powerful goals for your musical career. Above all, never ever give up.

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