Of course!Â You choseÂ the artsÂ in order to pursue meaningful and gratifying work. Sure, paying your dues and taking on a fair share of lame gigs along the way is permissible.Â You might even temporarily accept a â€œday jobâ€ to, you know, help out with the bills. But this is all leading somewhere. Somewhere important.Â Ultimately, the vast majority of your projects will be artistically fulfilling, personally rewarding, and/or helpful to society. Right?
Unfortunately, many artists get stuck or lost along the way.Â Suddenly, theyâ€™re 40, 50, or 60, yet still havenâ€™t fulfilled their calling.Â Instead, they find themselves trapped in a life that has little to do with the reason they went intoÂ the artsÂ in the first place.
Donâ€™t let this happen to you.Â Follow The Rule of Four!
THE RULE OF FOUR:
Re-assess your professional progress four times a year.
Scheduling an afternoon for reflection and goal planning every three months is one of the best ways to ensure you donâ€™t stagnate on the journey towards your professional aspirations.Â Whether youâ€™re still a student or in the prime of your career, this practiceÂ will propel you forward.Â Â
When doing this, donâ€™t just think things through in your head. Write down your ideas.Â Study after study has shown that people who map goals on paper are much more likely to accomplish them than those who donâ€™t. Somehow, putting them in writing makes these objectives feel more real and urgent, greatly increasing the odds they will be realized.Â After your session, keep the notes in a visible location so you are regularly reminded about them.Â
During each session, address the following:
- What are your top three large-scale goals as a professional? And have they changed since your last planning session? Three is a good number, since too many objectives can feel overwhelming, causing people to spread themselves too thin or suffer paralysis.Â
- How are you closer to realizing these goals now than you were three months ago? What specific actions were taken since the last planning session? Did unexpected opportunities or obstacles arise?Â Â
- Where are you spending time that detracts from goals?Â The problem with a day job orÂ work unrelated to your vision is thatÂ it robs time and energy from your core purpose.Â While few musicians have the luxury of only accepting dream gigs, itâ€™s important to weigh the pros and cons of each commitment.Â Be careful not to get sucked into a cycle where all youâ€™re doing isÂ less fulfilling andÂ energy drainingÂ work.
- What pro-active steps will you take in the next three months? Be realistic, but also ambitious.Â The more specific you are when outlining actions, the better.Â For example, donâ€™t just write â€œmarket teaching studio.â€Â How will you do this?Â Set up a website?Â Network with local band directors?Â Mail out a press release about your unique teaching philosophy?Â Then, be sure to execute these objectives, so youâ€™ll have progress to report for this 90 day period.
Itâ€™s impossible to know exactly what life has in store.Â But by charting a course and recalibrating regularly, itâ€™s much more likely that youâ€™ll arrive at a desirable destination.