Summer Goal Setting with Susan de Weger

Summer Goal Setting with Susan de Weger

With the summer break stretching ahead, there’s no better time to refine your goals for 2016 and beyond.  

Summer Goal Setting with Susan de Weger

With the summer break stretching ahead, there’s no better time to refine your goals for 2016 and beyond.  

With the summer break stretching ahead, there’s no better time to refine your goals for 2016 and beyond.  

Goals are the driving force behind your music career. Fortunately, musicians are familiar with the power of setting and achieving goals and have the physical and mental stamina to maintain focus over a long period of time. This mindset is what drives your technical and artistic development. You can experience that same amount of improvement in your career using defined goals, commitment and accountability. 

Before we dive into defining achievable goals, take a step back and evaluate whose goal is this? Don’t be swayed by what is considered the top of the profession, listen to your inner voice. Does this goal represent your values?  Values are the principles that you live your life by. They are the essence of who you are. The more you align your goals with your values, the more you will be motivated to work towards your goal.   Does this goal use my talents and strengths? Think beyond your musical ability to skills that apply across the working world. 

Be honest as you answer these questions, the only way to develop goals that are achievable and rewarding is to understand who you are and what is of value to you. 

‘If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else’ - Yogi Berra, Legendary Baseball Player, Manager and Coach


Try this exercise in defining and refining your goals.  Grab a pen and paper and write down five things you would like to accomplish in your performing arts career.

Next, rank them in priority. 

Then cross off everything except the number one goal.

Now refine your goal into a clearly defined vision using the SMART goal process. 

Specific What specifically do I want to accomplish? 
Measurable How will I know when I reach my goal? 
Attainable Is is it possible for me to reach this goal? 
Realistic How realistic is this goal in the context of my life? 
Time In what period of time will I accomplish the goal?

Here is a non-SMART goal “I will play in concert class more often” and here is the SMART version “I will memorise the Italian Concerto by J.S. Bach and perform in concert class on 01/05/16” 

Specific This goal is focused on a specific piece of music. 
Measurable You have achieved this goal when you have learned and memorised the piece. 
Attainable It is attainable as long as you think that you can do it, this is a subjective test. 
Realistic Given your life context, is this goal realistic. 
Time You have set a time period of 4 months. 

Now rewrite your number one goal using the SMART method: 


Make a list of specific actions that you could pursue, starting today, towards that goal.  
How about sourcing the sheet music and a reference recording for the piece, both easily done from the air conditioned comfort of your sofa.

Next make a list of potential challenges, identifying internal and external obstacles. ‘The music might not be available’ or ‘I’m not very good at memorising”.  Simply writing down these perceived barriers will start you clarifying those which could be genuine challenges vs those which are convenient excuses.  You’ll be surprised to see how many ways you can brainstorm to overcome potential challenges. Having the confidence to conceive solutions is the key to problem solving.


A study undertaken by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University of California confirms that that a whopping 70% of participants who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement.  You can read a short article on the study here which also contains a link to the research summary, it’s fascinating.  

One of the secrets to staying on track is to team up with someone who supports and encourages you as you pursue your dreams. It’s important to remember that you can be a valuable support to your peers and colleagues in the same way, and helping others will support your self-esteem, psychological well-being and social connectedness. 

Identify someone who is also pursuing a goal, even if it’s not in the same industry. Set regular meetings with your accountability partner and allow each other 15 to 20 minutes to share the progress you’ve made with your goals and the challenges you are facing. 


5 Minutes Think about whether your number one goal is really YOUR goal? 
30 Minutes Rewrite that number one goal and nail the SMART process.
1 Hour Identify an accountability partner, call them and set up a coffee date in the next
14 days Follow up with an email sharing in detail, a goal that you are working towards.