for stars lie hidden in you.
for every dream
precedes the goal.”
Goals can be effective motivators for success. Einstein once said "If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal."
But if you are like me, you have also encountered obstacles. Perhaps you decided that by the end of next month, you will have learned the first movement of a sonata - only to realize that you've barely made a dent in the piece.
If this sounds familiar, I'd like to discuss a new approach to goal setting. Based on the textbook Educational Psychology by John Santrock, here is a six-step strategy to helping you achieve your goals:
1. Set a goal, then work backward.
Let's say your goal is to learn an entire sonata in two months. Mark the date that you hope to complete the sonata. Now, ask yourself: "If I aim to learn this sonata by two months, where should I be in six weeks? Four weeks?" By working backward from your target completion date, you are breaking your goal down into smaller goals, which Santrock calls subgoaling.
2. Subgoaling helps you clearly define and organize the steps necessary to reach your goal.
Once you have your target completion date, create a series of subgoals. Visualize where you want to be in six weeks, four weeks, and two weeks. Write these down as your subgoals.
3. Structure your practice time by setting daily goals.
In the case of the sonata, it is easy to approach it one movement at a time. Within each movement, set your goals according to the rehearsal numbers or letters. For example, if you want to reach the end of the movement by Saturday, and the movement has 12 rehearsal numbers, commit yourself to working through 2 rehearsal numbered sections a day. You can also consider dividing the movement into exposition, development, and recapitulation, although dividing it like that results in much longer sections and is generally more effective in the last stages of mastering a piece. This is also called deliberate practice.
4. Give yourself incentives or rewards.
Reward yourself for reaching every daily goal. These can be musical or non-musical. For example, if you accomplished your practicing goal for Monday, treat yourself to listening to your favorite piece.
5. Keep a journal of your progress.
Experts recommend keeping journals to record, monitor, evaluate, and assess your progress. Try this: On Sunday evening, sit down with your goals for the week and go over them. Ask yourself if they are realistic. Visualize yourself accomplishing them. Throughout the week, revisit your written list of goals to monitor your progress. The key is to do this without passing judgment on what you have or haven't achieved. Instead, you are evaluating what actions you've taken and assessing which areas or goals made need more attention.
6. Finally, start each day by saying to yourself:
"Today will be a good day. Today I will accomplish what I have set out to do. If I encounter unexpected obstacles, I will be flexible and adaptable in dealing with the situation. Today will be a success!"
Does this goal-setting strategy work for you? If you have questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you!