Goal Setting and Staying Accountable in the New Year Ahead

man playing guitar

man playing guitar

+ Welcome to Soundfly! We help curious musicians meet their goals with creative online courses. Whatever you want to learn, whenever you need to learn it. Subscribe now to start learning on the ’Fly.

Welcome to the roaring 2020s. “New Year, New Me” posts are completely unavoidable. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually kind of miss mindlessly thumbing through my friends’ feeds just to find a cat video to chuckle at. These days, Instagram is just a sea of reminders-to-self to be happy, gracious, more productive and more goal-oriented this year.

Newsflash: flexing on social media doesn’t lead to more doing! You want to know what does? Holding yourself accountable.

Here are six helpful tips on how to set the right goals for yourself and your music career, and how to stay accountable as you set out to accomplish them this year.

1. Goals versus dreams.

Let’s quickly discuss the difference between your goals and your dreams. Dreams were important. Hopefully, you had a lot of dreams when you were younger. Dreams motivated you to make life choices that brought you to where you are now, pursuing your passions and earning a living in the arts.

Now I want you to let go of your dreams and seize upon your goals, with every ounce of strength and will that you have.

Dreams got you this far, but they won’t get you any further; in fact, they will likely hinder you, impoverish you, and create such a distance between what you think you want and what you have, that the sheer impossibility of bridging that gap will make your dreams unattainable. Goals are things that we can achieve with the tools we already have. They provide the kinetic energy that allow our dreams to happen.

Dream: Get famous on Instagram.
Goal: Use sponsored posts to increase follower count by 10,000 by the end of this year.

Dream: Get rich.
Goal: Find side hustle to increase monthly income by $600, and open a savings account.

Dream: Travel the world.
Goal: Save $400 each month toward a trip to Thailand.

Does that make sense?

2. Establish the big picture.

Alright, now that we’ve established how goals help you push your desires forward, let’s put them to work. Your long term goals will determine the short term goals you need to accomplish each day/week. Start the year off by making a list of five (or less) big picture goals you’d like to accomplish.

  1. Sign a publishing deal
  2. Increase cash flow by teaching more
  3. Tour in 10 new markets
  4. Increase follower count by 10,000 this year
  5. Trip to Southeast Asia with (insert name of bae)

Setting short term goals to help you achieve your big picture goals is critical to avoid getting discouraged. Think of your short term goals as a “to do” list for every day — write them down in a notebook or journal, on a sticky note, or in your phone. Include small things like scheduling rehearsals and writing sessions, changing your guitar strings, or setting aside creative time to produce.

To make sure you’re not just busying yourself with nonsense, ask yourself how each short term goal contributes and supports your big picture goals. If your big picture goal is to get that publishing deal, setting daily and weekly goals for padding your catalog, tightening your workflow, and building relationships with A&R reps will help you to work towards that goal.

Be as specific as possible, if it’s helpful, use big picture goals as headers and organize your daily goals like the following.

Goal: Sign a Pub Deal

January 21, 2020

-Finish “Song Title” demo
-Add lyric sheets from last co-write to Dropbox
-Confirm session on Friday
-Email so and so at such and such publishing company.

Wow, that was so easy! Look at how easy those tasks are — imagine how much progress you’ll make if you do that 300 days a year! No magic spells or lucky break required.

Headliners Club ad

3. Create a vision board.

It’s important to honor your creative spirit and imagination. In order to do that, create a vision board to give life and color to your big picture goals. Your vision board should be physical, tangible, something that you can put your hands on and engage with in the real world. This technique is crucial for creating a living, breathing representation of what you seek to achieve.

Get a piece of large poster board or recycle some cardboard you’re not using. Print out some photos, shear apart an old magazine, cut and paste and make it messy. Put stickers and glitter on it if you want. Create something that inspires and creates accountability each day, but remember that you’ve already written out your goals elsewhere, so feel free to play around and have fun with this.

A good vision board might incorporate things like:

  • A photo of your favorite band performing in-front of a large crowd.
  • A million dollar check with your name on it.
  • Newspaper quotes from a business person you admire.
  • Cover art of the Spotify playlists you want to land.
  • Pictures of the places you want to visit this year.

These things are unique to each individual, just make sure your vision board relates back to your big picture goals.

4. Practice both patience and impatience.

Patience is a virtue but good things do not come to those who wait. Be patient in the macro, be impatient in the micro. Big picture goals take time and patience to achieve, yes, so go after your daily goals aggressively and unapologetically. Don’t wait, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

If you wake up feeling on-edge and dissatisfied, throw that energy into your daily goals. Capitalize on that feeling, let it fill you with hustle and get to work. Let’s call this micro-impatience. Before you go to sleep at night, make sure to reflect on what you’ve achieved that day, and reintroduce some macro-patience into your perspective. Show gratitude that you have the privilege of working toward your goals each day.

5. Get yourself an accountability partner.

We’ve all heard this a thousand times. It’s not hard, yet most of us have probably never done it. Call a friend, or your cousin or your mom, and get yourself a mentor. Touch base once a week and talk about what you worked on, how it’s helping you achieve your big picture goals. Ask your partner for a friendly reminder to rise and grind every couple of days.

These things take minutes, and they go a long way.

6. Act as if…

Okay, let’s be lofty for just a sec. We’ve swallowed a healthy dose of practicality throughout this article, so I’ll leave you with one last thing that I think is both really fun and effective.

Back to the beginning. Draft a post on Instagram or Facebook announcing the achievement of your big picture goal.

New Post

Take it seriously, create something you could actually see yourself posting when you accomplish your goal. Save it for later, act as if. Give it life, it’s only a matter of time.

Want to get all of Soundfly’s premium online courses for a low monthly cost? 

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all of our course content, an invitation to join our members-only Slack community forum, exclusive perks from partner brands, and massive discounts on personalized mentor sessions for guided learning. Learn what you want, whenever you want, with total freedom.

Elijah Fox at the piano

Join our Mailing List

We offer creative courses, articles, podcast episodes, and one-on-one mentorship for curious musicians. Stay up to date!


6 Creative Ways to Stand Out in a Crowded Market

Authenticity and uniqueness are rare commodities in the music industry. Here’s how you can best communicate your brand and reap the benefits!


The Important Questions to Ask Yourself Next Time You Want to Give Up on Your Music Dreams

Just because you know this is what you want doesn’t mean you don’t call it into question… Be strong, visualize, and get back on the horse!


What Are the Different Tiers of Music Publicity Campaigns?

Thinking of hiring a publicist (or doing it yourself)? Here’s some helpful information that can assure you’re not wasting your time—or money.