Stay in your own lane – Defining Success

I started a series of posts earlier this year about the ingredients of success, and before I could tie off the series life happened. Check out the previous posts about preparation, patience, and hard work to add more context to this article. I was having a conversation with a fellow musician the other day and we ended up discussing our musical goals and each other’s measure of success. This reminded me about the aforementioned series and I vowed that I would make time to tie it all off.

Being in a competitive environment like the music industry, it’s often hard to stay motivated when the chips are down. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been at the verge of packing it in because it felt like I was banging my head into a brick wall. For the most part, unless you’re the exception, the returns you get early on never match the amount of effort you invest. Because of this, a lot of people don’t correctly account for progress they make which causes them to quit prematurely. This is why you should have a realistic measure of success, and it is necessary to appropriately manage your expectations.


Aim for the moon, yes, but first you must learn to fly

As I was speaking to my musician friend it was quite encouraging to hear what his personal goals were. His 2 year plan consists of building a strong catalog of music, releasing a couple of big budget singles, and putting together a timeless body of work. These are lofty ambitions, but what makes them realistic is that the success of each of these goals is entirely down to his actions. If he chooses to apply himself and he works diligently throughout this time frame, the chances of him being successful are quite high. I asked him what success looks like in relation to these goals, he said ticking two out of the three boxes would be good enough for him. The point I’m trying to make is this; having lofty ambitions is great, I highly encourage that everyone sets high goals, but ensuring that the goals that define you are entirely in your control is essential. It is also very important to initially cut yourself some slack when it comes to defining a success criteria, because setting the standard too high too soon can be detrimental.


A lonely, yet fulfilling endeavor

Setting manageable expectations is great when you’re finding your feet, but as you grow it’s also important to keep raising the bar. Once you find your flow and you settle into a groove, I personally think it’s important to keep pushing your limits further to ensure growth. I guess the idea of envisioning success requires a certain balance. You need to be stretched enough to be uncomfortable, but not too much to the point of breaking. Another important aspect of setting goals, and defining success, is avoiding the trap of comparing yourself to others. I have been guilty of this on many occasions, and I can attest to the fact that it’s one big motivation killer. Though it’s good to stay aware of what others are doing, it is very dangerous to set your own goals based on other people’s achievements. You live your own truth, your values are unique to you, what drives you is undoubtedly different from the next person, and ultimately your motivation will be drawn from sources that are exclusive to you. We each travel our own path, so we must create our own definition of success that falls in line with who we are. Once you are able to set goals and define success based on your own values, you find your purpose. Oftentimes you’ll find yourself travelling alone on this path, and this can be really confronting, but it is often extremely rewarding. When you reach your goals, chances are that you’ll truly be happy because your achievements have value to you.


All together now

Once you have a comprehensive list of goals, that match your values, and you have a clear measure of success in place, the fun can truly start. You will find it easier to get yourself motivated to pursue your goals. The concept of hard work and dedication will become less alien, and it will become more bearable to stay patient in the moments when things seem to be moving at a slow pace. Mix these ingredients together and you’ll find yourself knocking on the doors of success much earlier than you may imagine. Whatever you do, don’t cut corners, more on that in an upcoming post.


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