Making It In The Music Business (Pt. 3) // Tim Houlihan

Goals: SMART + Self-Selected

I am a writing, recording and performing musician – 52 shows in six states last year – with a day job. Some call my musical journey a hobby, not a profession…but for me, it’s simple: if the music is in you, MAKE IT.

In the previous two posts, I talked about setting goals that make sense for you and your career, being flexible with your goals and the differences between BHAGs and Bricks. In this last installment on goals, I’m sharing a great nugget on how to be specific about your goals. It’s called S.M.A.R.T. goals. 

S. Specific. The more specific the goal, the easier it will be to measure. Say you’re dreaming of playing the Paramount. Don’t just think, “I want to play the Paramount.” Be specific: “I want to open for a national act at the Paramount before the end of 2018.” With a date attached to the goal, you can work backwards to identify what you need to do and in what time frame. It takes a plan.

houlihan-BW low light pensive.jpeg

M. Measurable. Goals without measurement are merely dreams. Put some teeth into your goal and make sure you can measure your progress to it. Saying, “I need to practice more” is weak. But saying “I need to practice for at least 90 minutes every day,” is a stronger goal (a Brick, from Part 2 of this series). The more specific and measurable you can make your goal, the better.

A. Attainable. Be reasonable with your goals. Setting Mt. Everest sized goals is likely to lead to disappointment. Too much disappointment and you’ll give up. Don’t do that! Set goals that you can achieve in a reasonable amount of time. For Bricks, set goals you can achieve in the next 3 months. For BHAGs, set goals you can accomplish in less than 3 years.  

R. Relevant. Relevance is the most important of all of these. You need to set goals that are meaningful (relevant) to YOU. If you’re a hip-hop artist, don’t set a goal to play Coachella. This may sound intuitive and simplistic, but it’s often overlooked. Take a look at your art and declare, “This is who I am!” 

T. Time Sensitive. Goals are best when they have deadlines. You won’t always make the deadlines – because our brains are almost always more optimistic – but you should have a specific date to shoot for. For your next studio project, get specific about what you’ll accomplish each day – how many basic tracks will be laid. The number of days for overdubs. Time for mixing and mastering. Distribution. Set a date for the release show. Write it down and commit to it! Just remember to be gentle with yourself if things slide. 

Last of all, just make sure the goals you set are YOURS and not someone else’s. Parents and friends don’t get to decide on your goals – only YOU do. And never, never give up!

Check Out More From Tim Houlihan Here: