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Give Up Your Big Goals

Mar 12, 2024

Ever try to eat an elephant in one bite? Ridiculous I know. How about lifting a house? A task for a super being, but not us. Okay, let's be reasonable, ever eaten an entire 12" wide apple pie in one bite?

I know, I'm being a bit silly, but here's the thing:

Focusing entirely on your end goals without thinking about the small steps is just as ridiculous.

This is arguably where the 'ten year overnight success' cliché comes from.

Enough of clichés and thought experiments, what does this look like. Let's work it from back to front. For the sake of argument, let's say:

I want to record an album.

Nice. A worthy goal. An album is made up of songs or pieces of music. Already we're beginning to diverge on our process because we'll either:

Choose the songs for your album, or write the songs for your album.

Let's say that you're a songwriter, so it's time to start writing.

Find a time of day that you can reliably use to write, or a system that will allow you to write regularly, if a repeating time slot doesn't work with your schedule. Regularity is the important part.

Once we've done this, we're getting to the creation of what we'll be recording, but it still pays to break it down further.

Begin your writing process with what works best for you. For some, this may mean strumming on a guitar or playing some chord changes on a piano. For others, this may mean opening their notebook and making some notes on ideas for lyrics. You may have to try each for a few days before you find what works best for you.

Everyone's writing process is a little different, but one element seems to always be present to some degree:

As you start to get pieces of chords and lyric ideas, see how they combine. What goes well together and what does not? Do any combinations inspire more lyrics or changes in chords?

Once we're here, you'll have creations that are closely resembling songs:

Decide on your forms, and then adjust accordingly.

If you're writing a song that is meant to be a top 40 banger, your form can't be ABCDCDA at this time. This is admittedly, an extreme example, but hopefully you get my point. Give some consideration to your audience. Adjust accordingly.

In my example here, I've taken us through the process to create a song that could be written to go on an album, but the bigger picture here is that any large goal, when broken down, becomes a series of manageable tasks. So much of our ability to reach these larger goals lies in our ability to break them down. We can no more eat an elephant in one bite, than create an entire album in one sitting.

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