“Many musicians find it hard to develop their music career professionally because their “real lives” and the complexities of the music industry have gotten in the way. When musicians stop learning and investing in themselves, they hurt their chances of succeeding in their career.”

Maybe you read that first paragraph and thought “sure, but what does that have to do with Eleven?”.  This paragraph is a part of Eleven’s guiding principles: a one-page definition of our mission, key characteristics, critical actions, story pitch and theme that make up our reason for being.  It very clearly defines who we are, where we are going, what we need, and why we exist as an organization.

The theme of Eleven’s guiding principles is its “why”.  This statement explains why Eleven exists: “Eleven Music Career Center exists because if musicians develop their business skills they are more likely to succeed in music and be happy.”

We share this message in our marketing and internally to remind us every day why we get out of bed and what we need to do to move toward our mission. Eleven’s foundation is built on helping professional musicians develop their business skills and build a livable income doing something they love.

Pretty clear huh?

It may not seem important to find and know your why and create a personal development plan around it, but I can tell you from personal experience it was a game changer for me, and it can be for you too.

In April we were working with a musician during one of his coaching sessions.  He was unloading all kinds of details and ideas and thoughts about where he is, where he wants to go and what he wants to do with his life. In his 40s. This example of an artist needing guidance down to his core makes me think that he’s not the only artist in this kind of bind.

  • Maybe it’s years of being told music isn’t a career and to find a real job.
  • Maybe it’s that finding stable revenue in music is worse than pulling teeth.
  • Maybe it’s that most musicians are creatives at heart, not business people.

But whatever it is, I fear that not knowing your why and not having a personal development plan to execute on your why are among the root causes for why most musicians fail to pursue their dream job. Turning a hobby or passion into a job isn’t as easy as the world of entrepreneurism makes it out to be, so don’t be afraid if you think you’re on a boat in an ocean alone. You are among friends!

Today’s Recommended Action: Know Your Why and Create a Personal Development Plan

Too many people get to the end of their lives and find it either full of regret or are left wondering if it was all meaningless.  Letting fate write your story can leave you feeling unfulfilled or without a purpose. It’s time to take back control of our lives!

So, what do you want to do with your life?

When you create a personal development plan for your life:

  • You will know what to focus on
  • You will know what to do, despite how you feel
  • You will make progress every day on your life goals
  • You will get enough done every day that you don’t feel like you are wasting your life
  • Your life will make sense to yourself and others
  • You will experience a deep sense of meaning
  • And last but not least, you can establish a personal foundation behind your music career and be happy!

STEP 1: To get you started, consider the following questions and exercises:

  1. How long do you want to have lived by the time you pass?
  2. How many more years do you have left if you live as long as you hope to?
  3. Who in your life do you want to show a lifetime of love and care to?
  4. Is there a big vision you want to accomplish before you pass? If so, what is it?
  5. What do you want people to feel on the day they find out you are gone? Write some brief quotes about what you want people to say.

STEP 2: 

  • Using the first 5 questions as guides, write your own obituary (morbid yes, but it allows you to control where you life goes and how it ends)
  • Once you’re happy with how your obituary reads, define 10-year, 5-year and 1-year plans for your life, writing them as if they were true today. Categorize each plan into your career, your health, your family, your friends and your beliefs/spirituality.  For example, your 10-year plan may read like this:
    • CAREER: My band is a $100,000 a year business that performs 25 shows and inspires over 500,000 fans annually
    • HEALTH: I run 2 miles every morning before breakfast to ensure my day starts on the right foot
    • FAMILY: My wife and I are celebrating 20 years of marriage and our 2 kids are starting high school
    • FRIENDS: I have a group of friends who get together monthly for a cookout and jam session
    • SPIRITUAL: I attend service weekly and meditate daily
  • Review these plans every morning as part of a reflection routine. While it may feel repetitive, this practice starts to influence your subconscious and you start to make choices that ultimately guide you into making these a reality. (I speak from experience, and it’s alarmingly awesome!)

STEP 3: There is more to the regular execution and reflection of your plan and your why, but we want to keep this article short and easy for you to at least take the first couple of steps down that path.  To execute on the rest of it, reach out to us or you can enroll in Music Entrepreneur Academy where we’ll soon have a whole course dedicated to this.