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Defining Your Vision



I have spent many, many hours talking to musicians.  Some living the dream, and some…well, not so much.  But what every performing artist has in common, and what continuously draws me to them, is their passion for their art.  They never get away from it, nor do they want to.  They will sacrifice almost anything for their music.  They wake up thinking about it, and they fall asleep thinking about it.  They eat thinking about it, and dream about it with every breath.  They live their music.  And I honestly love that about them.  I love their drive and their love for what they do.

However, I do run in to a lot of them who, while they have this uncontrollable passion that drives them with every breath they breathe, they have never really achieved the success that they had hoped they would.  They often take it personally and feel the world has not embraced what they have worked so hard for, and do not respect what they live for.  And I don’t blame them!  As I tell them, their music – every song they write, every note they play, comes from their souls.  It’s a product of who they are.  It’s their “baby” that they have poured countless time and energy into.  And when it just sits on their computers and no one seems to share their enthusiasm, they are deeply frustrated and don’t know how to handle it.  I understand that.

However, it’s interesting to me that almost every time that I talk to these same people and ask them where their vision is, they often respond “just to get through the day, and maybe some day be able to be a full time musician and do what I love”.  And my friends, that isn’t a vision.  That’s a goal.  There is a difference.  Do you know what it is?

Goal:  Make $5,000 a month by the end of next year.

That’s a goal.  A lot of us make goals like that every year on the first of January.  Lose 50 lbs, exercise every day, make more money, pay off bills, move to a difference location, get a new job….we make resolutions/goals every year, and did you know, that according to Forbes Magazine, only 8% of us actually achieve those goals (

That’s because what really drives us are visions, not goals.  Here’s the difference…I can sit here and tell myself that I want to make $5,000 a month by the of next year, and it may or may not happen.  According to Forbes Magazine, my chances aren’t too great – about 92% odds against me!  BUT, let’s say that I sit down and actually create a vision for myself…

What will it be like when I am making $5,000 a month?
Where will I live?
How will it change my life?
What will it mean to the people in my life?
How will it improve my life?
In order to really be sure that it improves my life, what will I do with that extra money?
How will it improve the lives of others?
What will it feel like?
What will it smell like?
Can I really picture myself there?

When you can really dig deep and get a true vision for where you will be when you get there, that vision will create the energy and strength you will need as you travel the road to success.  To just say, “My goal is to make $5,000 a month by the end of next year” may feel really exciting and motivating…for about a week.  But as soon as the hurdles come around and things get difficult, you will begin to lose enthusiasm for the goal.  And before long, the difficulties of getting to that goal become bothersome, and you will quickly lose enthusiasm…unless you are one of the lucky 8%.

Another thing about having a real vision that gives it so much power is that when things get tough, you can go back to that vision and instead of just reminding yourself that you have this goal to make $5,000 a month, you can actually remind yourself of WHY you have that goal.  Instead of it just being a goal, it reminds you of WHY you are doing it, and for WHO.  You remember all of the benefits of reaching your goal.  A vision is the battery that empowers your goal.  And if you just have a goal, but have no vision, you are looking at a machine with low or even no power.  It may look good, it may have some value, but it won’t get the job accomplished.  It will lose momentum very quickly and quit working.

So, as a performing artist, I understand that your goal is going to be to be able to be a full time musician and “make it” someday.  And what that means to you is that every day that you don’t see yourself going that direction, you feel defeated.  So you live in defeat.  That’s no way to live.  I’ll cover that more at another time, but you don’t want to live from a place of defeat.  And one of the best ways to live every day from a powerful, accomplished position, is to create a real vision, decide exactly what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, and create a complete vision of where you want to be.  Pick a timeline…say 5 years, for an example.  “Five years from now I want to be…”.  Be complete.  Make it a real vision.  Feel it.  Taste it.  Live it.  Every aspect of it…down to what you will be wearing, who will be in your life, and where you’ll be living.  Remember to really include WHY in your vision.  WHY is it so important to you?  The WHY is what gives the vision the real fuel to keep it going when things get tough.  Don’t rush through this process.  It takes some time to really figure out, honestly, what you want and why.  Write it down…every bit of it.  Anything and everything you can think of about life five years down the road.

Now you have the vision, and the most important tool you will need to reach the success you are working towards.  So the next step is to work backwards.  Look at where you will be in five years, and figure out what you had to do to get there.  Did it require moving?  If so, where did you move to?  How did you move?  Research it…find out how much it will cost for you to move.  Find out what it will take to move.  Think about how it will impact you and your family and how you will handle that.  Think about every aspect of the move.  Write down what steps you will have to take to make that move and how you will do it.

Now back up a little farther.  Did you start a new band?  Did you get married and start a family?  Did you go back to school, get a job, buy new equipment?  As you go backwards from five years ago to today, write out each thing you needed to do to reach your vision, and the steps you needed to take to do it…all the way until this very moment.

Now you have a blueprint for your vision.  Every day you can look at your vision.  And as you take those steps, one step at a time, even when things don’t go quite the way you wanted them to, as you see those steps come together, you know you are getting closer and closer to what you were meant to be.

Having a vision gives everything you do have purpose.  It’s exciting.  It makes even the mundane things worthwhile, because they are a step to something big.  Just like hours of hard practice isn’t really “fun”, but you do it because you are looking forward to the big performance next month that is going to be nothing less than the fulfillment of a dream.  Do the same thing with your vision.  Build on it, and keep it alive.  Review it frequently.  And always pay attention to the decisions you make in life to be sure that they are feeding your vision, and not taking you farther away from it.

Having a vision is healthy.  It helps us make healthier decisions.  When I decided to focus my career on coaching people in the industry I love so much, as I started creating a vision for myself of what it would be like to help artists create their visions and to reach their goals, when I pictured the looks on their faces when they finally got their first recording, or the gig they never thought they would ever be able to get, it made me unstoppable.  Nothing was going to get in my way.  And believe me…a lot of things did come along.  Health problems, financial problems, family problems.  The list is huge.  And yes, the process took longer than I wanted it to.  But I had an unquenchable drive, and I got where I wanted to be.  Because every time I was ready to give up, the faces of the people I was going to help showed up in my dreams, and reminded me of WHY I was doing it, and for WHO.  And I knew it was more than worth it.

Cynthia McIntosh
Highway 2 Success

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