I'm a very goal oriented person. I need to see the end goal so that I can figure out how to get there. I like to break down my big goals into bite sized pieces and check things off my list.
There are so many elements of getting a song recorded that are out of my control. So, I have to figure out ways to do EVERYTHING I can do to make it happen and let the rest of the pieces fall where they may.
When I first started chasing writing as a full time career, I had difficulty staying motivated. There were so many times when something big ALMOST happened for me and then fell through. I would be devastated for days and it would be hard to go write again when all I was getting in return was disappointment.
I tried a number of things that didn't work before I found the answer in a simple place. One day I sat down and made a list of my goals for my writing. I didn't go crazy. Basically, my list was:
1) Get a song cut
2) Get a single and hear it on the radio
3) Get a gold record
Around the time that I started writing, I had toured Graceland in Memphis. When I walked into the racquetball court, my mouth dropped open. Floor to ceiling, it was covered with gold and platinum records. Not the new kind with a gold cassette or CD. Real gold RECORDS. Vinyl.
It made such an impact on me that I decided to throw that in as my big goal. I wanted a gold, vinyl record plaque on my wall. After living with my list for several days, I came up with a plan to motivate myself.
I put an empty nail in the wall at the end of my hallway, right by my bedroom door. I didn't tell anyone what it was for. But, I knew. That was where my gold record would hang. Every day I would walk past that empty nail and remember my goals.
I believe that the leap of faith I took to hammer an empty nail into a wall was the single biggest step I took during those days. I was committed. I believed I could do it. I had a nail waiting and ready for that plaque. I looked at the nail for several years. Some days I hated it. Some days I was challenged by it. Some days it inspired me.
It helped me remember that on ONE day in the past, I believed in myself enough to get a hammer and pound that nail into the wall. It was a sweet, sweet day when I finally hung that record there. A little extra sweetness - it was a platinum record.
Whatever it takes, find something that motivates and challenges you. On a strong day when you are believing in yourself, plant some visible reminder where you will see it often and use it to help you get through the disappointing days.
Most of us lose track of where we are going sometimes. Keeping your eyes on the end goal helps you stay on track as you make the journey. Whenever you lose your way or start to doubt, turn to your “nail in the wall” for a little “I can do this” encouragement. Write on.
Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays Taylor and Batson guitars. Find out more about at SongtownUSA.com and martydodson.com. Or follow him here: www.facebook.com/songtownusa and Twitter @SongTownUSA.