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Know Your Strengths To Create Goals

Know Your Strengths To Create Goals

We’ve all heard it: “Set goals to achieve success.”

But, for many of use, songwriting is one of many things in our lives, and often something that comes behind work, health and family needs.

Setting goals for your songwriting can be a challenge, because it is usually a goal that’s part of a larger set, like: lose 10 pounds and eat healthier (personal); start an art activity with the kids (personal); learn how to create an effective SEM campaign (work); write better songs (songwriting).

I’m going to argue that breaking down your goals into groups like (1) Personal, (2) Work, and (3) Songwriting will serve you better each year.

And, you don’t need 5 – 7 goals in each.  Maybe it’s two clearly defined goals in each, or you heavy-up in the category that needs the most attention this year.

For me, personal and songwriting receive the most attention these days. When I was starting my career, I think work consumed 100% of my goal setting.  Things change as life brings changes.

If you’re an advanced songwriter, you may be pitching songs, so your goals will have a bit more of a networking and business slant.

I create separate goals and actions for songwriting business activities so I don’t lose site of what makes my product different from others . . . my songs.

As a marketer, I’ve found that poor products can be sold once, but do not build a business.  Your songs are your products.  Make sure they’re top quality!


5 Steps To Finding Your Goals By Looking At Your Strengths


The trick to setting a goal is to give yourself a line to cross for a skill that you are currently lacking. So how do you find those things?


What Do You Think You Do Well?

Write down at least 3 items and be as specific as possible.

  • Are lyrics your strength?

If so, what specifically?

Is it your imagery or how you use metaphors?  Is it the way you pull your personality into the song through your wit or humor? Maybe you tell stories in an interesting and unique way.

  • Is melody your comfort zone and what is easiest for you to create?
  • Do you have a strong sense of other grooves/rhythms and bring that to your songs?
  • Are your themes diverse and you illustrate them in a unique way?

The goal here is for you to self identify what you do well in a song now.


What Do Others Think You Do Well?

If you’re getting feedback on your songs from peers or groups with a solid songwriting skills foundation, you will likely be hearing some positives at the beginning and end of critiques (if not, find a group that offers critique vs. criticism).

What do you consistently hear?

Write down at least 3 items and be as specific as possible.

  • Your rhyme patterns are always strong and unique
  • You often have unique ways of describing common things
  • Your story telling takes a common idea and makes it unique
  • Your choruses are always very strong


What Do You Keep Repeating & Want To Stop Doing?

Write down at least 5 items and be as specific as possible.

  • You’re writing the same chord structure and melody line every song
  • You’re writing about the same themes with the same rhythms
  • Your choruses don’t really tie up and seem to de-emphasize the hook
  • Your verses don’t really move into new territory after you’ve written verse one
  • There are usually no major contrasts between your song parts
  • Your song structures are always the same – Verse | Chorus | Verse |Chorus | Bridge | Chorus
  • Your catalogue is full of 4/4 songs – no waltzes, no 6/8 and they’re all mid-tempo 75 BPM


Set Your Baseline Goals

Of the above items, if you were to elevate them to the next level, which 3 would have the greatest immediate impact?

List at least 3 items – more if you feel you can provide the focus on them needed without being overwhelming.


  1. Create more variety in my melodies
  2. Chorus needs to serve its role in the song better and clearly be the chorus to a listener’s ear (contrast/dynamics)
  3. Create a variety of song structures across different time signatures


Create Your Goals + Action Plan

Build your activities/actions around each of the three items in the prior step, with a deadline date associated with each action.


A. Create more variety in my melodies

– Choose 2 songs in a different genre and write a song from each using the Ghost Song Exercise [DUE: 3/31]

– Create song maps for 3 of my songs to find melody patterns I’m consistently using [DUE: 2/15]

– Map 2 songs I admire melodically and understand how those songs are “moving” [DUE: 3/15]

B.  Chorus needs to serve its role in the song and clearly be the chorus to a listener’s ear (contrast)

– Identify a songwriting coach or class that focuses on chorus writing.  [DUE: 1/30]

– Set up meeting or join group and complete first coaching/class exercise.  [DUE: 2/28]

– Find and complete 2 songwriting exercises for chorus development [DUE: 3/30]

C.  Create a variety of song structures across different time signatures

– Find one song a month with an interesting structure and write a new song with that structure

– Identify 2 new grooves (e.g., samba, R&B, waltz) and complete a song for each [DUE: 4/30]

D. Total songs completed by 4/30 from the above actions = 7


Why Such Short Due Dates?


You’ve probably noticed that the due dates don’t take an entire year.

I’m big on incremental steps. If you can’t take one, taking a leap of ten probably seems daunting or worse, won’t happen at all.

Give yourself success milestones by setting actions that keep you focused for a 90 or 120 day time frame.

And, keep your list handy. Check items off as you complete them.

Seeing movement is a key part of keeping your momentum going.

I’ve created an Evernote Goals Template if you’d like a digital version you can access anytime from any device. Simple change out the example actions with your own.

So – at a big picture level, here’s the overall process:

  1. Create a BHAG
  2. Create the 3 most important goals to move your writing forward
  3. Build activities and actions to keep progressing forward
  4. Once you’ve completed an activity, add a new one and continue through the year
  5. Revamp your goals at least once a year

Good luck and keep the momentum going!

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