Success that’s just out of reach - no thank you
We are at that time of year when we start to reflect back on what the year brought and what we hope is to come in the next. I always thought, making resolutions puts a lot of pressure on a new year just about to unfold. They are often bold and very brave, but often don’t feel like that at the end of the year. It’s great when lots of these things come to pass, but that doesn’t always happen, and perhaps we dreamed of such big things we might feel down about a year that we actually achieved a lot. This is not always good for our mental health.
When I look back at the goals and resolutions I made early on in my music career I often had very big and unrealistic expectations for a 12 month period. They were driven by external measures too - followers, page likes, subscribers, streams, song pitches and PRS payments. Although we can affect some of these things, they mostly lie outside our control, and we put our definition of success into others hands. Is that really what you want?
In the last couple of years I have tried to define my goals more from my own perspective, looking at my own gifts and skills and finding ways to express and use those during the year.
These have largely sat in three categories:
1) Create a legacy of songs that people will hear
2) Help others make music
3) Receive an income from songwriting
For a long time I was making music and writing songs that sat on hard drives and were only heard by a few people - usually people that I was trying to pitch to and impress. Music is made to be heard, and I found it almost depressing that my creations were effectively hidden.
I believe I have developed my lyric writing skills significantly over the last few years, so it’s a natural outcome of that to seek to help others with their songs. I’ve enjoyed doing that and its gives me a great sense of achievement to bring that skill into a creative collaboration.
I’ve been fortunate to do that both in person and online using the SoundBetter site:
My initial measures for ‘receiving an income’ were certainly unrealistic. This is a pleasant outcome of songwriting if successful and helps me pay back the money spent on learning the skills, but it is not the driving focus of my songwriting journey.
So I encourage you to consider your resolutions and goals for 2020 carefully, and be open eyed about the motives that drive these goals. If you are ever unsure about anything you are working towards, just ask this question:
Am I enjoying songwriting?
Choose the things that are fun and bring you pleasure. That’s most likely where your passion lies.
I hope the very best for 2020 for you and your creative journey.
Next time: What I learnt from Ray Davies in a Watertower