At the beginning of every year, for the last three years, I’ve made a habit of writing down my yearly goals.
Writing down my goals makes them real; now I’m committed to achieving them! Because I’ve set an endpoint, it’s much easier to queue the tasks and put myself on a path of progress. This is why I write down yearly goals: they link the short term (tasks) with the long term (success). It also means they’re time-stamped and forces me to work on a deadline.
I divide my list between “work” and “personal”. “Work” is divided between “music” and “business”. “Music” goals include repertoire I want to learn, improv exercises I want to check out and albums I want to transcribe. “Business” goals include recording a new album, producing some video promo and blogging at least once every two days.
It’s important that my goals are specific. For example, I would never write: “Improve be-bop playing.” Instead, I would write: “Learn every Charlie Parker tune in every key.”
Also, my goals are always ambitious; they all require significant dedication. I’ve yet to complete every goal on my yearly lists.
But my goals are always realistic; I probably could complete all my goals, but I can’t always anticipate where my interests will lead me. Sometimes an unexpected project will transpire and shift my focus. If I don’t complete a goal, it’s probably because I was busy completing another unwritten goal.
Three or four times a year, I revisit my list of goals; sometimes I need a reminder!
My career has grown exponentially since I started writing down my goals.