There are many different ways to define "success". To me, it boils to down to being able to make a living doing what I love, to the very best of my ability—which is to say, it's more about the journey than the destination. I don't (currently) have some grandiose goals of being a millionaire, driving a Lamborghini, and retiring to some tropical private island. Instead, I'm focused on doing what I love simply for the sake of exactly that: being able to spend a lifetime doing what I love and feel fulfilled by. Success is about personal fulfillment, not material things; money is only worth what you spend it on, so I only seek to have as much as I need to support the lifestyle I'd like to have.
Having said that, the question becomes:
How do I plan on creating and sustaining that kind of "successful" lifestyle?
Ultimately, it comes down to trading value for value—both in business and in my personal life.
I've found that the "Five W's" give a pretty good structure for success, especially in business:
This is about who I am as a person—all my interests, thoughts, quirks, and overall personality. My "brand", if you will. In both life and business, other people decide whether or not to associate with you largely by considering who you are as a person.
Are they trustworthy?
Are they considerate?
Are they knowledgable, competent, and still fun to be around?
Think of it this way: if you have the choice between two people who are equally good at what they do, you are ultimately going to chose to work with the one you like more. In fact, even if one person isn't quite as skilled as the other, you may still choose to work with them nonetheless, simply because you appreciate their personality more.
Who I am is incredibly important to creating the kind of success I want to experience in my life, and to creating the kind of experience I want to provide for my clients, friends and family.
What value am I providing to others, and what goods and services do I have to sell?
In order to exchange value for value, you must have something of worth to offer up in the first place—either a great experience, a great service, or both. You have to have something—that's the "what".
What is my motivation?
What is my purpose?
Why am I even doing this in the first place?
For one, I feel that it's what I've been called to do—it's intrinsic. There's this force within me that pushes me to pursue a career in music, and to provide people with the same joy and fulfillment that I experience through it. I enjoy helping others and contributing value to their lives—in other words, I find value by giving value—and music is the medium in which I work best.
Beyond that, I begin to consider the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none"—would I rather be really good at one thing, or decent at several things? I've been able to strike a bit of a balance between the two. Music is my art form—it is the primary field which I am pursuing mastery in. But within music, I seek to be competent in every aspect—everything from composition to production to performance. And that leads to my ultimate goal...
I've always dreamed of obtaining the title of Maestro—which, quite literally, translates to "master". I want to know my craft so well, inside and out, that I can use it to express any emotion I so choose, with the greatest degree of subtlety and precision. I aspire to be a master musician.
I've only ever fallen in love with two crafts: music and technology. What I do now is largely a combination of the two, with technology (sound, studio, etc.) complimenting and strengthening my music.
This concept is so simple, but also remarkably important:
I have learned that, without some kind of firm due date set for my projects, I will rarely finish anything. It's Parkinson's Law. If I'm going to accomplish anything, I have to set goals with deadlines.
This one is interesting:
What direction am I headed?
What do I want my future to look like?
Right now, this is something I have been contemplating quite a lot. To be honest with you, I'm not certain of this yet. What I do know is that I can't go anywhere if I don't start—so right now I am making it my priority to consistently produce valuable creative content, and take it one step at a time from there. Eventually, I will build enough momentum to actually start making real progress, and then I will determine what kind of future I want that momentum to take me hurdling towards.
Generally speaking, I have come up with some basic goals to work around. Here's what you can expect from me in the near future:
I will be posting one piece of content on my social media pages each day, and do my very best to make them valuable to you! At this point, I'm experimenting with social media and attempting to attract more followers to gain more exposure.
I will release one project each week—a blog post, an original song, a cover, a collaboration... right now, I'm concerning myself with simply doing something each week. After a while, I plan to start releasing content with a more regular pattern.
At the end of each month, I will send out a newsletter summarizing what content I have released over the last 30 days. I'd love for you to join the mailing list by scrolling to the bottom of this page and signing up! :)
I'm still debating how I'd like to go about this, but I would either like to release a new album yearly, or new EPs quarterly. Whatever the case, I want to develop a portfolio of original music.
Once I've got the answers to all those questions and know the purpose behind my business, it ultimately comes down to one thing:
Just do it.
That's it, y'all. Once I know the direction I'm headed, it takes commitment and discipline. It sounds so easy... as if! But hard work, hustle and grind is what it's going to take to make this dream a reality.
As I alluded to earlier, I've found that momentum is the key to long-term success. It's so much easier to continue doing something once you've already done the hard work to get things up and running. Once the habits are built and the muscles are strengthen, there's a lot less friction and a lot more fun.
I know that once I start winning, I won't want to stop—it's addicting.
So, here's to more winning!