Setting Goals

I've been in a huddle with my "study buddy" over practice and it's gotten pretty interesting.

We've been talking about "S.M.A.R.T." goals. For instance:

S-pecifc [I need to learn my new band's arrangements of 40 songs, plus vocals on 12 of those]
M-easurable [I need to learn them well enough to perform them]I'll measure my success against the approval I get from my bandmates in our weekly rehearsal, and at the gig.
A-cheivable [I can do it - I've played 80% of them at one time or another]
R-ealistic [I want to do it, and I need to do it to be qualified for the gig]
T-imely [Our next gig is in early December, 6 weeks away]

Promise yourself a reward for acheiving your goal. Now, in the case of musicians, most of us feel that just having the opportunity to play is it's own reward, but when you set goals, it's a good idea to set a special reward for a special effort. My reward in this case will be to spent the money I get paid on a new axe , which is not something I usually do with gig pay.

When setting goals like this, "take ownership" of your goals by sharing them with a friend or mentor who will help you hold yourself accountable. You might even do this by publishing your goals - like on this blog, for example.

Break the goal down into action steps that make sense and fit into the amount of time you have available. If you schedule daily practice sessions, have a specific number of things you'll do planned for each practice, for instance:
Warm-up - 5 min.
Sing 2 songs - 10 min.
Play 3 songs with practice CD, 15 min.
Free Play - 5 min.
(Oh, yeah - keep it FUN)

Monitor your progress - check in with your self, your study-buddy, or Mentor on a frequent, regular basis. If you start to get off track, this will save you before things get too out of hand.

Finally, don't be too hard on yourself if you don't exactly acheve your goal. Instead, adjust your next milestone, congratulate yourself on the real progress you made by your honest effort, and recycle - start working on that next goal.

The more you do this, the easier the organizing process becomes - eventually, it may even start working it's way into your routine subconsciously.