Goal Setting

Why Bother?

Throughout this course we will go on and on and on….and on about goal setting. Why? Because any business, artist or human being trying to do anything ever, does so much better when they have a target. Knowing what you are working towards not only helps you to develop clarity surrounding your vision and subsequently the action you take. Having clear goals is also a really important step to combating self doubt and disappointment. 

We can’t tell you how many times we have sat with a disheartened, annoyed, upset or angry artist whose release, “hasn’t gone well”. When asked why they feel that way, the response is never clear and is almost always completely emotional. It’s a massive issue that we encountered so many times so we decided that we had to add this module. You’ll thank us for this later – we promise!

So, Here’s The Thing…

Without a goal you can’t possibly know whether something has done well or not. Why? Because how could you if you don’t know where you are planning on ending up in the first place? If you don’t know how many streams you want in the first place, how can the number of streams you get not be enough? If you don’t know how many followers you want to grow by each release, how can your follower growth not be enough? 

The truth is most artists do have the answers to that question, but they are too afraid to quantify their desires because that makes the prospect of failure more realistic. In fact and of course, it is far easier to not set goals, not create plans and not stick to a structure and to ultimately become annoyed by the results than it is to goal set, plan and execute. When you don’t set goals there is always an excuse as to why things aren’t working and the reasons many artists come up with are not entirely based on reality, just emotions. This is unhelpful to growth, this is not a set up for success, nor does it drive success focused habits.


A Turning Point

Does this sound like you… You’ve planned and prepared your release, got your assets, maybe you’ve even made a music video and some social posts – week one into the release you’re still <100K on Spotify, your video views and followers have not gone up and you are not recognised as a global superstar…bummer. Now you don’t want to post about your single because no one is taking it in, you are getting nowhere with your music career and frankly you should just give up. What’s worse is you’ve spent a heap of money to put this single out and now you are sure that you will never see a return of it. So, you give into a self doubt sulk, decide to never put a song out again because the world just doesn’t deserve your music… or you. Back to the 9-5 you go, until the next time someone asks when your next single is out, giving you the tiniest glimmer of hope that maybe you don’t totally suck?

If this is something you have experienced before and you can relate…Let’s take a minute to think about what would happen if next release we did things differently. What if you were super clear on your goals, knew exactly what you needed to do to make them happen, and worked towards that every single day? How would it feel to set a streaming target and actually hit it? How amazing would it feel to actually know exactly what progress you were making? This is the mindset we are trying to get to to ensure your success.

Shaping The Landscape of Your Success

Goal setting isn’t just good for clarity on results. Goals can give you the clarity to make crucial business decisions that shape the landscape of your success.  For example, having an overall streaming goal that you can break down into weekly or daily streaming targets will help you to know if you need more ad spend, to post or DM more, to incentivise people and build audience relationships. When you set goals and track them you are able to make real time adjustments to your strategies to capitalise on success areas, and minimise efforts in areas which are not producing results. 

The final important reason we see for goal setting is reflection and reviewing. As an independent artist, your job role is massive, time consuming and exhausting. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the doing that you may not have time to reflect, tick off goals you have achieved and look at where your journey is taking you. This is a very important psychological process which leads to improved performance and general motivation. When you have goals set in place, setting up time to review them and track your success is what really ties the whole process together. There’s nothing better than seeing real life growth and achieving things you set out to. 

Note: Setting goals are linked with higher motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence, and autonomy (Locke & Latham, 2006), and research has established a strong connection between goal-setting and success (Matthews, 2015).

What Are You Getting From All This?

We want you to understand why you need goals and clarity. 

We hope this will help artists shift from responding emotionally to release results, to developing a business minded approach whereby results are entirely based on the goals we are working toward and the actions we set to achieve them. 

Goal-setting in psychology is an essential tool for self-motivation and self-drivenness – both at personal and professional levels. 

We want you to feel empowered and excited about the prospect of achieving your goals.

By now you will have realised just how serious we are about setting goals and why it is so important to you as an artist. But we don’t want you to just take our word, built from years and years of experience working with artists. There are many in depth and insightful psychological research projects which have looked into the connections of goal setting mindset and success. We have a summary with key points for the findings of those studies to help you really understand why goal setting is so crucial to success… from the scientists.

Psychological Studies and Research on Goal Setting 

Goal-setting is an area in psychology whose roots lie in scientific data and empirical evidence. It is a flexible theory which is open to modifications according to the changing times, and yet serve the purpose of:

  1. Maximising success.
  2. Minimising failures and disappointments.
  3. Optimising personal abilities (Latham & Locke, 2007)

A study on the effects of goal-setting on athletic rehabilitation and training revealed that groups that followed a solid plan of action were more prepared, had higher self-efficacy, and were more organised in their approach (Evans & Hardy, 2002).

The experimental population had three groups, only one of which received the goal-setting intervention. Post-experimental measures showed there was a significant difference in the levels of spirit and motivation among the group that received the goal-setting interventions and the other two groups.

Value-Centred Approach To Goal-Setting And Action Planning

George Wilson’s study on “Value-Centred Approach To Goal-Setting And Action Planning” also put forth some groundbreaking revelations. He based the survey on the seven practices Seligman had mentioned in his research on positive psychology and goal-setting (Kerns, 2005).

Wilson called them ‘key takeaways’ and urged organisations to consider these seven highlights while setting up their goal-management programs:

1. Values Commitment

Wilson coined five core values using a value-based checklist. His study showed that when goal-setting focuses on the core values, it increases the likelihood of achieving success from the target plan.

The five core values he mentioned were – integrity, responsibility, fairness, hope, and achievement.

2. Goals and Values Alignment

Wilson set the goals in his study based on the core values, such that each goal satisfies at least one or more of the purposes mentioned above. Results showed that the goals which were associated with the values gave more satisfaction to the participants than the ones which were not.

3. Character Strengths and Actions

Seligman’s findings strongly stated that goal-setting and achievements must take into account the character strengths of the individual.

In the absence of character alignment, there will remain a chance of selecting actions that are too easy or way too complicated for the person to accomplish. Wilson extended his study based on this finding and used the Values in Action (VIA) inventory to rule out the strengths and abilities of the participants before choosing the right goals for them.

4. Self-confidence

Positive psychology research on goal-setting spoke about how confidence and goals tend to complement each other. Wilson’s study incorporated regular self-checks for one year post the survey to examine the level of self-confidence of the respondents and determine its influences on their achievements.

5. Persistence

Frequent investigations in the form of self-assessments, interviews, or feedback are essential in gauging whether the participants are consistent with their targets. Seligman and his colleagues considered perseverance and consistency hugely critical for ensuring successful execution of the target plans.

6. Realistic outlook

The importance of setting realistic expectations cannot be stressed enough when talking of successful goal-setting. Wilson’s research on goal-setting encouraged participants to take the Seligman Optimism Test for gaining insight into the self-perceptions and followed three approaches to maintain an optimistic perspective in the participants:

  1. Separating facts from negative thoughts and ruminations.
  2. Encouraging positive self-talk among the groups.
  3. Using at least one positive statement in each of the weekly reports where he mentioned the target plans and goals associated with it.

7. Self-resilience

Wilson suggested that measuring the Resilience Quotient (RQ) of participants before assigning goals to them is a great idea for optimising success and promoting happiness (Kerns, 2005). On administering resilience scales to the respondents, the goal-setting and task assignment became more accessible and guaranteed better outcomes.

How Do We Set Goals?

Author Doug Smith (1999), in his famous bookMake Success Measurable! A Mindbook For Setting Goals And Taking Actions” mentioned that successful goal-setting mainly involves asking three questions to the self:

    • How important is the goal for us?
    • How confident are we about reaching and accomplishing the goal?
    • How consistent is the goal with our core values and beliefs?

Core Concepts of Goal Setting Theory

After a lot of researching, Locke noted four vital components of a goal that makes it useful. When committing to our goals and plans these are some of the things to bare in mind which may help you to set ambitious yet achievable goals

1. Difficulty

The harder your goal, the higher the reward. Easy goals aren’t as beneficial to our growth. They don’t challenge us or utilise the full extent of our  abilities. 

It is easy to set smaller goals, they minimise our risk of failure and often leave us functioning from a comfortable position.

While it is tempting to shy away from goals that are difficult to achieve when setting our own goals, a harder goal will be more beneficial to our resilience and drive as well as being significantly more satisfying.

Equally, setting wildly unrealistic goals can be demotivating. Finding that middle ground and pushing slightly beyond is usually a good place to sit. 

2. Specificity

Being very specific about your goals binds you to action. When you have deadlines and targets to stick to, your lack of action becomes the only thing that stands in the way of you and your dreams. The success of your task depends on the action you take towards a specific goal that has a specific date. It helps to steer the direction of your efforts

This level of vision and focus on the goal enhances our intention and helps us to remain consistent.

3. Reward Reminders

Locke said that the human mind is too used to getting reminders from its internal or external environment when it faces a lack of something.

For example, lack of food or water is triggered by feelings of hunger and thirst that motivates us to achieve the equilibrium again. 

So with our professional goals we need constant reminders of our potential reward to remain focused and motivated to continue. Listening to the stories of artists you look up to or motivational informative content about your craft will help you to maintain focus, especially if you are in your chosen environment on a daily basis.

Steps to Setting Goals

1. Make a Plan

The first step to successful goal-setting is a solid plan – You should have an idea of what you want to achieve from model one and the ways in which you can achieve it . In terms of your business as an artist, combine your business model from module one with what you plan to release this year. Before doing this, think of what your business model is and if what you plan to release aligns with your business objectives.

Consider your strengths, ambitions and talents to form the basis of the new habit programme that will emerge for these exercises.

    1. What am I great at and how will I utilise this to achieve my goals?
    2. What do I aspire to achieve and how does my goal serve this?
    3. What is my passion and talent and how can they serve my goals?

2. Explore Resources

If by now you aren’t absolutely pumped and convinced that goal setting will change your life, then do some more digging about the benefits of goal setting. When we really grasp the proven impact that goal setting has on results, it then becomes easy to follow our plan and work to our target. Much like we know what foods are good for us from health research, there is so much psychological evidence to suggest the major impact of goal setting on mindset and success. The more information we take in, the more likely we are to naturally adopt the notion that we are around goals, personally and professionally.

So Google away and find out all you need to know about goal setting and the positive impact it has. Test yourself to, commit facts and theories to memories. 

3. Be Accountable

Accountability is a non negotiable when it comes to goal setting. When we have someone to check in or report to we hold ourselves far more accountable than if we simply rely on our own discipline. 

So it’s time to buddy up, someone who knows you and cares about you. Or a fellow artist in a similar position, or  a trusted expert with knowledge in your area of expertise. Buddying up will enhance your chances of success significantly.

This will be someone with whom you share your goals and task list who will check in and help you stay on track.

4. Use Rewards and Feedback

Rewards can make sticking to a plan more straightforward, “if I do this then I get that” triggers our brain into engaging with what we want to achieve. Plan ways to celebrate your milestones – no matter how big or small.

Employees who receive feedback in performance perform better than those who have little interaction from management. I’m sure we all wonder if we are doing a good job or the right things, getting feedback can help us lose self doubt, motivate and refocus. Feedback also helps us to adjust our actions if they are not serving our goals.

What Type of Goals to Set

We’ve managed to avoid it so far, but now is the time to throw out a business buzzword SMART goals. If you’ve sat in any kind of marketing or finance meeting recently or had a performance review you will probably have heard the term smart goals.

Goals that are:

Specific: 10,000 Amazon streams on my next single

Measurable: Because the goal is specific we can measure the success

Achievable: Do we have the release plan to support the number – if you plan on doing a story post and have 12 monthly listeners it’s unlikely you’ll hit 10k streams on any platform. Make sure you tailor your action to make any goal achievable

Relevant: Make sure it makes sense, learning to fly a kite is a great goal but it doesn’t have anything to do with your music career

Time-Bound: Set a deadline 


Using the SMART goal outlined above, note down your next set of goals.

And rememebr… you are excited to set goals! Say it with me “We 👏  Are 👏  Excited 👏 ”