I know, it seems like a no-brainer to set songwriting goals as well as goals for your music career, but most of us rarely do it, and worse, if we do, we don’t write them down!

According to some recent industry research:

– 83% of the population does not have goals – yikes!

– 14% have a plan, but haven’t written their goals down

– 3% have goals written down

In the end . . .

You are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down!


For most of us, the biggest challenge isn’t in the documenting of goals, but the creation of goals.  So, to help, I’ve outlined some easy steps to help you create your goals.

I’m also going to suggest that creating goals alone is a bad idea.  You need a plan!

Goals are measures.  If you have no plan to get there, you’ll fail.

Help yourself out and develop goals that are part of a plan, and write it all down. And no, it doesn’t have to be War and Peace to be useful.

People who have a plan and written goals to measure the progress of their plan are 10X more likely to be successful than the 14% of folks with a plan and no written goals.

So let’s crack on and walk through a simple version so you have a simple strawman at the end. This should help give you an outline for the details later!


Get Started Setting Your Songwriting Goals!
1.  Carve out 2 hours and find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed.

I’m suggesting 2 hours, because more than that and the whole process looses it’s “newness” – the whole thing seems like work. Instead, you should feel inspired and like you’re creating future opportunity. So, you want a fulfilling, positive experience.


2. Identify your BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal).

What’s your ultimate objective? To get a Nashville cut, be a hit recording artist, co-write with Miranda Lambert, be on The Voice? the key thing is to have a vision for your future.

And, you don’t have to share it with anyone!  Your dreams are yours. But dreaming and creating actions that get you there are two different things.


3.  Review this year and identify where you want to end next year (objectives).

Usually when people set goals they leap years into the future.  Instead, imagine you’re at the end of next year and doing this same exercise. What key things do you want to have accomplished that move you in the direction of achieving your BHAG?

For example, by June of next year, you may want a cut from a local or regional artist. You may also want to start making some in-roads into the Nashville, LA or NY music scenes as an incremental step to your BHAG or long-term goal.


4.  Outline some key “gap” items you need to work on to get there (strategies).

What’s missing that you will need to put into place so you can achieve your “end of year” successes you identified in #3?  Writing down these items gives you a road map of some key objectives you’ll have for the year.

Using our example from before: To achieve your objective of getting a local/regional artist cut by June, you will need to have strong songs able to compete at a national level.

You can see how once you start working backwards, the items you need to get done start to crop up. The trick here is to make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with “things to get done” and instead, create actionable items that fit into your plan.

And how do you do that? Step 5 of course!


5.  Identify 2 – 3 steps that will get you there for each of your “gap” items.

When setting songwriting goals, there’s nothing worse than overwhelming yourself.  Doing so tends to let paralysis set in due to the sheer weight of having to accomplish so many things.

I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to accomplish your objectives is to give yourself a brief list composed of 2 or 3 tactics with deadlines to help move you forward.  That way, you’re always making progress.

You’ll measure these primarily with a “Complete – yes/no” and a deadline date.

For our example, to support the objective of creating songs that can compete at a national level, you’ll need a strong song catalogue with a  diverse mix of songs with different grooves (strategy), as well as a number of songs with various topics/stories (strategy).

To achieve both of these strategies, you’ll have different steps (or tactics) you’ll need to take, like writing a song a weekend, or completing a waltz, bosa nova and blues tune, or writing a love song with a twist, a dark ending and a joyful ending.  You get the idea.


6.  Define and write your goals down!

Your “Goals” are the measures of accomplishing the elements of your plan that fall under each objective.

So, if your objective is to create stronger songs that can complete at a national level, what’s the measure of it?  How will you know you’ve done it?

Success Tip: I plug my measures in after I’ve defined 2, 3, 4 and 5 above!

Why?  Because my goals are a measure, not an objective, strategy or tactic. They are in place to hold me accountable for a progression. it’s a definition of that success.

So, one Goal to measure my progress against “Create stronger songs that complete at a national level” may be: Have one song considered “contemporary, w/unique melody” among my SongTown songwriting peer group by April 1st.

Notice it doesn’t say: Win a national songwriting competition – why? because they’re fickle and while you can compete, don’t make it your only measure. Make your goals/measures things that you can directly impact.

I keep mine in Evernote and start with the same “set songwriting goals template” each year so I’m editing vs. starting from zero.  This keeps the whole process from seeming huge.

But, I also make sure I brainstorm outside of the template so I don’t restrict my thinking to just the things I’ve done before (same path, new year).


I can’t stress enough the need for not only goals, but a plan.

To achieve success, you have to have a vision for your destination, and a plan to get there.

Goals are your mile markers.  Without a plan, goals are nothing more than “I’ve gone 100 miles west but have no idea where I’m at on my journey!”


TAKE IT TO “11!” . . .

For a more detailed look and an easy step-by-step process that will result in a full goals plan for the upcoming year, check out the Easy Guide To Goal Setting.