“I just want to make a living doing music.”I hear many musicians say the same thing. “I just want to make a living doing music” or “I just want to make a living doing what I love to do.”

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those goals. It was my goal as well.

Over time, however, I realized my dream was much bigger. Not that it suddenly grew, but rather my dream was always bigger than that. I just wasn’t able to articulate it yet.

I think the reason I kept saying I wanted to make a living in music had a lot to do with the people that I hung around with. They either had dreams of building a career in music of their own or had always assumed that’s what I wanted.

Then I had a rather painful but sobering realization: I didn’t know anybody who was living that dream; especially those who kept saying they wanted to make a living in music! So it was mostly pointless taking advice from people who were in the same position I was.

If you often find yourself saying the types of phrases already mentioned, here are some questions you should be asking yourself to clarify your intentions:

Is my dream big enough?

I understand why someone would want to make a living in music. They would be able to break free from a day job and finally focus on what they would rather spend their life doing.

However, setting too small of a goal might actually be delaying the realization of your current goal. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “shoot for the moon and land among the stars”. That’s how goal-setting really works!

Not that you can’t accomplish your biggest goals, but rather if your initial goal is too small, you don’t see yourself ever achieving anything bigger! In other words, you’re setting yourself up to reach your goal in the indefinite future.

For some people, their vision expands as they start moving in the direction of their dreams. They come to realize that the more they win, the more they can help others win too. Unfortunately, those who only want to make enough for just themselves wind up not helping the people they could be along the way and end up delaying their fulfillment.

Is my dream specific enough?

What exactly does making a living in music look like to you?

I could suggest several ways of “making a living” in the music industry that just about anyone could pursue. However, those career paths may not lead to your personal fulfillment. That’s where you may be lacking some much needed specificity.

Take the time to define the following items:

  • How much money do you need to make to replace your current income? Calculate that amount and find out how much of a raise you would need if you kept working exactly the same number of hours you are right now.
  • How do you want to make the money? In other words, do you want to make a living from performing, recording, teaching, or a combination of different sources?
  • What do you plan to do with the money once you have it? Again, be specific. Every penny that’s not planned for is prone to unnecessary spending.
  • Do you know why you’re doing it? Simon Sinek goes so far as to say that if you know your ‘why’, the ‘what’ pretty much takes care of itself. Know your motivation and keep that at the forefront.
  • When do you plan to reach your goal? What is realistic based on your current work ethic? This isn’t so much about perfection, but rather setting a positive expectation for success.

Does my dream include enough people?

This goes hand in hand with the question, “is my dream big enough?”

“Making a living”, while not a bad dream, is a dream for self. If you want to accomplish greater things, help more people, give back, contribute or make a mark on this world, you have to help others realize their dreams as well.

“Making a living is the dream”, you may say.

The reason why those who have helped others and continue to help others make tens of thousands of dollars a month is because they have bigger dreams. They don’t buy in to arrival fallacy. They give their best today and they keep giving their best.

Author: David Andrew Wiebe

David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.

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