Goal-setting is not an activity that every musician is in the habit of doing. However, it can help you to clarify your priorities, celebrate milestones, and make the most of your practice sessions. Therefore, it is a worthwhile thing to do.
If you want your practice time to be focused and productive, make sure to take some time to determine what your goals are.
Set SMART Goals
Smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Using this criteria, you can develop goals for yourself that are more concrete.
Specific: consider what you’d like to achieve and get as specific as possible. Don’t just say “I want to become a better player”. Say things like, “I am going to learn five new arpeggios every day” or “I am going to learn the single paradiddle rhythm”.
Measureable: “I am going to learn 100 new chords by the end of the year” is a measureable goal. “I am going to learn a bunch of chords” is not.
Attainable: if you don’t feel you can realistically achieve it, it’s not an attainable goal. Either simplify the goal, or extend the timeframe to match your current growth.
Relevant: your goals have to be relevant to count. In other words, don’t set goals that don’t matter to you. Figure out what you’d like to accomplish, and make those things a priority.
Time-Bound: set a definite deadline for each of your goals. Don’t be afraid of getting it wrong; be afraid of putting it off indefinitely.
Set Short-Term, Mid-Term and Long-Term Goals
It’s important to recognize that there are many stepping stones on the way to bigger goals. If you only set long-term goals, you may become overwhelmed or feel discouraged. This is why it’s a good idea to have attainable short-term and mid-term goals as well.
If you prefer, you can reverse engineer your biggest goals. Begin with your long-term goal, break it down into smaller actionable pieces, and make those baby steps part of your daily routine.
Set Goals That Matter to You
If you want to become a better manager of your priorities, then get in the habit of setting goals. No one else can tell you what should matter to you. If you build your agenda around someone else’s idea of what you should be doing, you won’t feel inspired by your objectives.
For best results, set goals that you deem important. You will feel more motivated by your objectives when they are properly aligned with your priorities.
Write Down Your Goals
Don’t forget to write down your goals. Very few people actually do this, but those who do increase their chances of achieving significantly.
Don’t ask too many questions. Simply pull out a pen and a piece of paper, and start making your list.
Goals are supposed to energize and motivate you. If they don’t, you’re probably not having enough fun!
When you’re having fun, you’re less aware of the passage of time. You’ll practice and play for longer and it won’t feel like a sacrifice. You won’t take yourself as seriously, and ultimately, you will progress faster than if you weren’t enjoying yourself.
Loosen up, and make sure to have fun on your journey.