In this digital era, distractions can seem impossible to avoid. Just figuring out how to stay focused on your goals and ambitions in your music career can feel as difficult as actually achieving them. These days, constant distractions can lead to a massive loss in productivity.
Statistics show that employees, on average, waste 28% of their time dealing with and trying to recover from unnecessary interruptions. And that’s at work, where you’re paid to be productive, and where some of us are monitored too much or too closely for comfort.
So, one can only imagine how much time is lost or wasted when we are left to our own devices. Speaking of devices, how many times have you grabbed your cell phone at the very moment you hear a notification, wasting precious time scrolling through social media when you should be using that time working on your goals?
I can bet a lot. But we’ve all been there. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions and efforts to stay on task, we still find ourselves being chronically distracted. Chances are you’ll be interrupted before you can even finish reading this article.
The reality is as undeniable as it is unavoidable: we live in a world full of distractions! But how can you take back control of your time and attention to avoid these distractions and learn how to stay focused on your goals in your music career?
How to Stay Focused on Your Goals in Your Music Career: Designing Your Environment
“If you can design your life and behaviors well, you don’t need to rely on willpower.” – BJ Fogg, Social Science Research Associate, Stanford
Real progress occurs when we fully understand and align with what, whom, and where best support our goals. So, the next time you’re in your environment, whether at or outside of studio, try to pay attention to how you feel while you’re there. Note if that feeling changes when you leave that environment.
Examine your surroundings. Look at all the infrastructure and ask yourself these simple questions:
1. Am I in an environment that’s conducive to me achieving my music goals?
2. Is it detrimental to me maintaining my focus on my music goals?
3. Is it on par with people who have already achieved what I want to achieve?
Also, examine your lifestyle and habits. Are you placing yourself in environments and situations that spark personal growth?
If the answers to these questions are anything but a definite and resounding yes, then you should seriously consider modifying or completely changing your surroundings. The more you understand yourself, the more aware you’ll be of the environment that’s most likely to help you stay focused on your music goals.
Let Your Music Goals, Not Distractions, Distract You
If you constantly lose focus on your music goals, you pretty much render them useless. Distractions and interruptions are the biggest culprits of losing your focus. One of the most practical ways to maintain focus is to allow your music goals to constantly distract you. You’ll inevitably lose focus from time to time. But you can limit the number of times it happens and the duration by facilitating your goals to distract you back to your focus.
Now, how do you do that? It’s simple: make visual cues.
There’s a saying that if you don’t see it, you’ll probably forget it. Science agrees; the eyes hold the majority of sensory receptors in the human body. Therefore, the eye is a major component of focus.
The following cues are simply things that will trigger you to focus or refocus your attention back onto your goals.
What type to use will largely depend on what works for you, but below are a few common ones:
1. Tape your task list or habit tracker to your desk or onto your refrigerator at home.
2. Hang motivational posters at frequently visited sections of your house or music space.
3. Post-Its – write your goals in a one or two-word phrase on them and stick where you’re sure to see them.
4. Set cues to constantly remind you to stick with your productive habits.
5. Digital devices – alter the screensavers of your computer, smartphones, tablets, or any other digital device you use regularly to display something about your goal.
Modify Your Inner Circle
“You are the average of the five people you associate with most…” – Tim Ferriss
Multiple studies have proven that our mindset, behaviors, and motivations are largely influenced by our peer group. Therefore, the people in our lives have an enormous impact on our ability to reach our goals.
Since people have such a significant influence on the direction of your entire life, if you’re really serious about achieving your goals, you may have to adjust your inner circle. This is where designing or modifying your environment for success becomes tricky.
Unlike upgrading your iPhone, changing the makeup of your inner circle can be a lot more complex. One of the most difficult things to do in life is to sever ties with friends, especially against their will, even if it’s for the betterment of the self.
It will likely foster resentment because it will require you to betray the very virtue that served as the keystone of the friendship in the first place: loyalty.
But we must remember that above all else, when we set important personal goals, we must be loyal to ourselves if we are to achieve them. Loyalty to friends, family, or even to your spouse that is detrimental to your success in life will only slow your growth.
By consciously deciding whom you want in your inner circle, you are taking control of the ultimate direction of your life.
Change Your Environment Completely
This method is the most extreme, but it can also be the most effective. While modifying your environment for it to become less distracting is ideal, sometimes it’s just not enough. Certain elements in your environment, such as your social circle, are harder than others to modify. In fact, some elements that are nearly impossible to adjust.
There are times when these elements are so out of your control that the only thing you can do to stay focused on your goals is to make more radical and thorough changes. This can mean changing your environment completely.
Here are some examples of changes you could try to make (only if necessary):
1. Change your physical possessions (ex.: get rid of your TV)
2. Create a new virtual set-up (online)
3. Change your physical music space (work, home, co-working, cafes, etc.)
4. Join a new social group
5. Change locations (home, co-working space, café, etc.)
6. Change jobs or switch branches
7. Drop distracting friends or family from your inner circle.
8. Change your spouse
9. Move to a different country
Of course, these are some extreme steps to take. So, only resort to these if you have tried everything else to stay focused on your goals but are still unsuccessful.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to stay focused on your music goals, it’s a lot harder to make a significant, lasting change without altering some elements of your environment. By taking control of the set-up of your environment, you can influence your levels of motivation, enthusiasm, drive, and desire towards the goals you have set.
Optimizing your environment creates powerful conscious and subconscious motivators that make staying focused on your goals easier. And for many of us, easier is always better.
How do you stay focused on your music goals?