English · Tips

Confession #2: How To Stay Motivated

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It’s been said over and over and over again – Plan, plan, plan!  Planning is key for anything you want to achieve in life.  This is so, so true and although we know it’s true, we keep neglecting to do it! (myself included!)

I want to put a new spin on the planning concept though, because I think there are more benefits to be had than the obvious ones…

We all know that motivation starts with the vision.  Your motivation is at its peak and it gets the ball rolling.  “Yes, let’s do this!”  The absolute last thing you want to do is plan at this stage—  “I just want to get stuck in man! Time is ticking!”

But planning is THE key to maintaining that motivation throughout the project period.

Let me illustrate by way of example.  I have had my own home recording studio for a number of years now, and the problem I constantly fight, is the urge to want to get stuck into recording a song idea without first clearly laying out the song structure.

It’s so easy these days to make a track from nothing.  With the advent of MIDI, laying down a complex piano piece, synth or cool beat has never been easier.  But more likely than not, if you dived straight in, without concern for the overall structure and feel of the song you’re trying to create, you’re simply not gonna be happy with the final product.  This is because inevitably you get carried away with this cool riff here and that cool riff there that you eventually lose sight of the song.

Bear in mind, this is after hours and hours of work.  When you have spent the greater part of a weekend on a song and aren’t happy with the outcome this can only lead to demotivation.  Suddenly your dream of making a kick-ass song that got you so fired up in the beginning is now lost and you wallow in your sorrows for the next few days.

Guess what?  You’ve just wasted the greater part of a week sulking and not being productive.  Maybe you even re-visited your track with more time spent and more demotivating results.  This time could’ve been spentproductively in planning.

Planning of course will have proved fruitful in the tracking stage – if you know the song structure, you know which instruments to use and where to place them to create the feel you’re going for.  This hands-down beats trying every instrument in the book and every placement under the sun.  Better still, after the week or so spent planning and tracking, you now have a completed song that you’re proud of.  But that’s not the best part.

The best part comes as a result of effective planning, and as a result of a finished product you can be proud of:  continued motivation!  That same motivation you had at the start of the project you now have again because, well, you created something awesome!  You took the tools that you had, you thought about it proper and you applied it to make something great.  If anything its more motivating than the start! Instead of being a pipe dream, making a great song is now a reality and you now know you possess the power needed to do it again.

The same applies to any industry.  If you’re a painter you don’t just try every single colour in your palette and paint every single part of the canvass hoping for the best?  If you do, you’re going to make a complete mess.  Same goes for the business executive with a new initiative.  You don’t simply dive in because chances are, you’re not going to work effectively.  Mistakes will be made requiring you to put more time and money into the project than you really should have, simply because you didn’t plan properly.  A loss of time and/or money with no/sub-par results leads to… demotivation and even self-doubt!

Motivation is the driving force behind any project we set our minds to.  It’s what gets us up in the morning when it’s cold and dark outside. It’s what keeps us working whilst others are out and about partying or watching series.  It’s what makes us save and invest rather than go away on that summer holiday.  But fail to plan and you will waste time and money on an outcome that is less than desirable.  And guess what?  You’re gonna wishyou were in bed, out and about or on that summer vacation.  Because then at least you would’ve enjoyed yourself.

The lack of planning spells death to motivation and ultimately death to your project, goals, dreams and careers.

Keep the fires of motivation burning.  Never stop planning.

Sean David is a self-established music entrepreneur, singer/songwriter and journalist.  

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