When it comes to success, everyone has their own idea of what that looks like. If I asked you what yours was, maybe you’d say it was touring full time. Maybe you’d say signing to a label or playing festivals. But that only scratches the surface, doesn’t it? Because the real definition of success goes so much deeper. It isn’t just about what you want to DO it’s about how you want to FEEL, and this is a key ingredient that most of us miss when we’re trying to understand the life we want to lead. For instance, you may say you want to tour full time, but if I ask you what you value most in your life, and you tell me time with family, then those two statements are at odds.
It becomes difficult to see how one can coexist with the other, and while not impossible, I find with the people I talk to, and in my own life, that the more I focus on the FEELINGS I want to have vs just the tangible result, the closer I get to leading a life that I feel fully aligned in and excited by.
And so yes, while today’s article is about success and we’ll talk about the strategy behind defining your next career move, I want to make clear from the beginning that the first step to defining success is to reframe how you’re looking at it—only then can you begin to put together a solid strategy for achieving it.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?
We touched on this, but the first thing I want you to get really honest about is how you want to feel? Everyone wants to feel happy, so that’s not what I mean—but rather, do you want to feel powerful? Influential? Do you want to feel adrenaline? Do you want to feel peaceful? What feelings do you want to have in your day to day?
WHAT ARE YOUR CORE VALUES?
Think about the things that matter most to you and write them down alongside the things you want to feel. What are those things, your core values? For instance, is it that you value time spent with your family? Is it adventure? Travel? Freedom? Affirmation from others? Write it all out.
PICTURE YOUR LIFE 5 YEARS FROM NOW—ARE YOU HAPPY?
Go ahead and picture your ideal life 5 years from now. What do you see? What’s happening? Are you surrounded by family? Are you on the road? Are you in the studio? Playing for thousands of people? Writing alone? What do you see in that first instant you close your eyes? All those things we’ve talked about, the feelings you want to feel and your core beliefs, should all be evident at this point and through this exercise you should now have a pretty good idea of how those things manifest themselves.
SO, HOW DO I APPLY THAT TO A STRATEGY?
Here’s the fun part—applying everything you’ve just learned to a strategy. Now that you know the way you want to feel, the values you hold most dear to you, and your ideal life, you can start to look at what actually fulfills that. Use your own common sense here (IE, if you want to spend more time with your family you probably realize touring full time is not a great option OR you need to find a way to bring them on the road with you, if that also suits their lifestyle), but to start you off, here’s a bit of a cheat sheet.
If you value your independence, freedom, and flexibility: you probably want to stay DIY. This doesn’t mean you can’t find success or make a living as a musician. Far from it. It just means that if you want to be in charge of the decisions—everything from what song to release and when to how often you tour or the colors on your merch, you probably wouldn’t do well with a record label.
If you love adventure and fear wasting any time in your life, you might want to tour full time and that might mean with your own band or as a studio musician. Label optional
If you love making and performing music but if you’re honest, what you really love is security, stability and the ability to touch people’s lives, maybe you want to look at what it would take to sign to a label. You won’t mind giving up a bit of control for that security of having a label back you, and you’ll get to impact even more lives through their reach.
This is just a start—but I hope it helps. I see so many musicians arbitrarily hanging on to dreams and ideas but with no real idea what they mean for the day to day of their life, and so, they go unachieved or undone and they never really do get that thing they crave most of all, whatever it is. By breaking it down and getting honest about how you want to feel and what you value most, you can start to really uncover the life you WANT to lead, not just the one you think you should.