45: How to Consistently Finish More Songs and Level Up Your Skills

45: How to Consistently Finish More Songs and Level Up Your Skills

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How many unfinished songs are floating around in your notebooks, on your cell phone, on your computer hard drive and in that big noggin of yours? The truth is, all of us have a ton of ideas that we were once excited about, started developing and left unfinished. We all have excuses. Lack of time, lack of collaborators, “shiny object syndrome”, etc.,

Finishing musical projects is tough. Only people who have tried can REALLY understand how much effort goes into a 3 minute song. So we get it.

Unfortunately, the act of finishing is absolutely crucial to the improvement process. Furthermore, it doesn’t have to be intimidating – or even hard! There is a time-tested technique for taking big, complex tasks and breaking them down into actionable steps that get you moving steadily from start to finish.

In this episode you will learn:

  • Why finishing is so critical to your development as both a producer and an artist
  • Why finishing projects can seem so difficult
  • About one of Vadim’s lame college stories turned anecdote
  • About the SMART goal technique and how to use it to set up robust goals that are worth working on
  • How to use the DIY Recording Guys’ free SMART goals template to break your smart goal down into actionable items

Download the FREE SMART Goals Template here: https://resources.diyrecordingguys.com/goal

How to Finish More Songs and Level Up Your Skills

To start let’s talk about why it can seem so difficult to finish songs. Then let’s talk about the powerful benefits of actually “finishing”.

Why is finishing songs so difficult?

  • First, the songs you are trying to finish may have been created a long time ago. Because of this they may not be up to par with your current skills. For example, you may think you had a great guitar tone 6 months ago but today, with more experience and knowledge, you may realize that the tone is not ideal for the mix
  • Next, let’s be honest. There’s A LOT of work that goes into finishing songs and getting them ready to release into the world. From writing to producing to mixing and mastering and then developing art and promotion there’s a lot more to it than we may first think. Because of this, it can be intimidating and that’s ok.

Why Is Finishing Songs so Important?

  • First (and most importantly) finishing you songs means you have “product” ready to distribute. The more songs you have finished and released, the higher the chance are that listeners will find something that resonates with them. You can have an idea for that really great song, ep, or album but if it’s not finished “it doesn’t exist”. Said another way, consistency is crucial if you want to succeed.
  • Secondly, finishing your songs usually creates a sense of satisfaction which helps keep you inspired and motivated. In addition, with every finished project you will learn something new. And that something new can only “click” when you put the bow on your song, ep, or album. Whether it’s in the recording, producing, or mixing stages there’s always a take away when you’re finished and can reflect on a project. The same can’t quite be said when discussing your 50% complete projects. The things you’re able to learn through finishing your songs will help you finish future songs faster and will help you avoid or overcome challenges you may face when dealing with them again.

A Powerful Technique: The SMART Goal

The secret to finishing any intimidating project is to divide it into small, well-defined pieces. So how do we do this while keeping ourselves accountable?

We do this by using a technical called the SMART goal. Let’s talk about what this means. SMART is a clever acronym to help us remember the components of the goal.

S: The S stands for “specific”. How specific is your goal? Does your goal allow for any follow up questions such as when, where, and why? If so you might need to narrow down a little further to ensure you’re clear about what you want to accomplish.

M: The M stands for “measurable”. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Don’t leave it up to your own definition. Make sure it’s clear and universal so that there’s no excuse for settling for anything less.

A: The A stands for “attainable”. Is your goal realistic? This one may be tricky to determine and it’s ok to be a little aggressive. To start, think about what you are capable of in the moment and what challenges you will have to overcome to achieve your desired result. If your goal may be too big, break it down into smaller steps.

R: The R stands for “relevant”. Does your goal align with your values and your higher level life goals? If your goals aren’t as relevant as other goals then consider how much time you might want to dedicate to them.

T: The T stands for “timed”. Does your goal contain a firm end date? By leaving end dates open-ended, you will likely fail to hold yourself accountable.

How to Apply the Smart Goal Technique

Start by coming up with a goal statement. Then, run the goal statement through the SMART criteria mentioned above. Does it pass the test? Can it be considered a SMART goal?

Now that you have your goal in place, the next step is to break it down further into key milestones. An example of a key milestone might be “finish writing the guitar parts”. Come up with as many milestones as you need. Then, with all of your milestones in place, break each milestone down into your day to day tasks. Now, all you have to do is wake up every day and look at what tasks are due that day. If you’ve done the exercise correctly, you should not be intimidated by any of the day to day tasks on your list.

For much more on this topic, listen to the full episode above.

Using OUR SMART Goals Template to Help You Finish Your Songs

Are you ready to start setting up your own goals? We’ve set up a template that you can use to start working on setting up your own personal project schedule.

Download the FREE SMART Goals Template here: https://resources.diyrecordingguys.com/goal

Where to Find the Guys
The DIY Recording Guys Website – www.diyrecordingguys.com
Vadim’s Studio Site – Get your FREE test mix today! – https://calmfrogrecording.com
Benjamin’s Studio Site – https://dreamloudstudio.com
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