Self-improvement is a positive act. It’s something you actively do. It’s sad to consider the number of people that think that by simply doing something over and over again, they’ll eventually get better. But mindless repetition will not get you the results you’re looking for. Most of the time, doing something over and over again cements bad habits, bad ways and bad thinking.
I encounter people in my life all the time who have been achieving the same level of mediocrity in that thing they do for seemingly forever.
And that mediocrity gets cemented into their psyche, so that actual improvement becomes almost impossible.
Whoever originally said, “You are who you think you are..” said a mouthful. In my years as a school and then university teacher, perhaps the first thing I learned was that people generally achieve what they expect of themselves, informed by the expectations of others.
The ones who actually excel tend to be the ones who are able to do either or both of the following:
- Shut out negativity of others; and/or
- Build their own expectations based on a clear and concise dream for their future.
When you look at yourself as a songwriter, what do you see? Not who – What?
What kind of person are you? Do you set high expectations? I hope so. So are you where you want to be? Are you achieving what you want to achieve? Do you need to adjust your vision?
Are you playing your songs for your friends and family and saying, “Yes, this is exactly what I aimed for, and it’s what I want to be doing!”? You usually get what you aim for.
We’re fond of talking about the people who get that “big break,” as if it’s all some sort of accident. And when you read the stories of singer-songwriters who’ve made it big, it’s fun when the story makes it sound as if they just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
But in fact, there’s usually a story behind that story. Sometimes several stories. In reality, almost nothing happens purely by accident. It takes vision, and the setting of exciting goals.
And then it takes self-determination, an ability to shut out negativity, and an ability to stay focused on the dream.
If as a songwriter you’re making basic errors, it’s easy to think that it’s because you haven’t done it enough. That’s usually not true. Most of the time, errors that get repeated are the ones we subconsciously expect to make.
The errors you’re making today are the ones you’re likely going to make tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.
That is, unless you adjust your vision, and change the way you do things.
I wrote the first edition of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 7 years ago. I wrote it to help my students at the time solve some fairly basic songwriting errors. But in order to solve errors, you need to adjust your vision. If you’re reading that book as an attempt to simply fix problems, you’re missing out on the best opportunity you have to improve: adjust your vision.
And set exciting goals for yourself. If your dream is to turn the world on to your music, you’re not going to achieve it by sitting in a corner, making the same mistakes today that you made yesterday.
Most of us have goals. But they’re usually so unremarkable, so short-term (“Today I will go to the grocery store”) that we don’t mention them.
Set exciting goals. Learn your craft, but don’t bother learning if you haven’t set an exciting goal, based on a thrilling vision for your future.
If you learn and retain only one thing today, let it be this: you are usually FAR BETTER than you think you are.
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