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What If?

2021 blog Feb 24, 2021

 “I want to (fill in the blank).

It’s easy to get seduced by grand ambition. 

We can be triggered by various ideas or fantasies: fame, fortune, acceptance...whatever. What motivates you will be different than what motivates me. But, what is common to any level of achievement is that there is an initial idea that sparks the action. What you have to keep in mind is that the bigger the dream the greater chance that your dream lies somewhere outside your comfort zone or personal experience. 

"Success is achieved by execution of an idea - not the idea itself."

As a creative professional my job is to make my ideas real and tangible in the world. As I used to say to my composition students: “without getting to the end of your piece or song your idea is like a marble rattling around in your head. It may stroke your ego but has zero value to anyone else.” If you want to achieve a goal you need to be able to measure your progress. This is essential. 

If a goal is outside your comfort zone or new to you, where do you begin?

Step One. Articulate your goal.

When you are in the aspirational phase your dreams and desires are in the ether. Some call it day dreaming. Chances are the loftier your ambition is the less defined it will be. That’s to be expected.  

Moving from the “what if” stage to tangible requires you to be as specific about your goal as possible. If your goal is to be “the next John Williams” then write it down. Make it real in the world. (note: I’m a big believer in note taking by hand. Typing uses a different part of your brain and is harder to retain the information). The importance of writing down your goal as specifically as possible can’t be overstated. Why? You will refer to this statement throughout the process of working towards your goal.

Step Two: Identify the component parts 

Understanding what is needed to achieve your goal means knowing what your end goal consists of.

If your goal is to become a Hollywood Film Composer then you need to understand exactly what is entailed in the job description of the job you aspire to. If you don’t know you need to find out.

What are essential attributes:

  • Talent?
  • Intelligence?
  • Competence?
  • Luck?
  • Persistence?
  • Work Ethic?
  • Competence?
  • Integrity?
  • Responsibility?
  • Trustworthiness?
  • People Skills?

As an independent contractor you will be responsible for running your business. This means you have to think like a business owner. These responsibilities  include:

  • What is your intent (what is your end goal)?
  • Are you offering a product or service?
  • Who will buy your product or service?
  • What is your value proposition ( how does your product or service satisfy your customer’s needs)?
  • Why would someone choose you over someone else?
  • What is preventing you from moving forward towards your goal?
  • How will you deliver your product or service?
  • How do you get your potential customer’s attention?
  • How do you close the deal?

Answering these questions will enable you to determine if your dream is within your grasp or out of reach. And, more importantly lead you to the next step.

Step Three: Know what you don’t know.

Any successful person is well aware of what they know and what they don’t know. This means they see the totality of the goal (it’s component parts), are able to articulate each component part and prioritize how their personal strengths and weaknesses relate to what is needed to achieve their goals.

Just because you don’t know how to do everything yourself does not prevent you realizing your dreams. But, not knowing what you don’t know will stop you dead in your tracks. 

The creative mind loves to live in a state of “what if”. Turning your dream into a reality requires being methodical and disciplined. It’s dry. It’s not as fun or rewarding as being “in the flow of the moment”. 

So, the choice is yours. Am I serious about success? Or, do I want to keep that marble rolling around in my head forever? The bad news is that there is no place to hide. You need to be brutally honest with yourself. The good news is these are all skills you can learn - if you’re willing.

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