Greetings and Happy New Year!
Now that 2016 is here it’s time for me to take stock of what has happened in my personal & professional life in 2015.
The question is “Where did I rock it, and where did I fall short?”
In this post I will share the good, the bad and the ugly with you….and yep, there’s some ugly!
I teach & preach to students that goals should be:
- Written Down
Fewer goals are better than too many, and it’s ok if not all are met.
If I can I look over the past year and see that I accomplished my goals, it is very motivating. It’s important to celebrate and not only be self-critical.
“Fails” indicate where I fell short. These are areas I can correct, re-invent and adjust for the upcoming year.
Here is a summary of what you will see below in this post:
- Successes in 2015
- Fails in 2015
- Goals for 2016
- Lessons Learned
The Big Picture and Main Goal
I did not write goals for 2015 which could be considered a cardinal sin #1 of goal setting. BUSTED! I kept saying “I gotta write my goals” and then April somehow rolled around, but never got to it.
However, I knew I was clear on there was one MAIN goal for 2015…
My #1 goal was to launch my online lesson site StudyWithAdam.com.
The 2nd sub goal was to tour & play excellently while goal # 1 unfolded. That meant staying in practice while my brain and “push” were oriented to the website.
I chose not to pile more on, otherwise I’d be spread too thin.
2015 in Review – Successes:
Success #1 StudyWithAdam.com Site Launch
The biggest goal achieved was the launch of StudyWithAdam.com – this was a huge job, from the design, implementation, video sessions, customer service and most importantly – attention to my students.
I started building it in January 2014 and launched it in April 2015, so yep, while you saw “tour dates on Facebook” I was working on this site whenever I was not on tour.
Success #2 Ongoing Touring
I did a little over 50 concerts. Compared to guys with 200+ gigs it feels lame, but gosh, I was still constantly in airports & trains.
My touring would be smarter if I packed concerts more closely together.
I don’t actively “hunt” for gigs, but maybe I should, I just kind of let requests come in and often contact places where I have had a successful concert in the past. Booking would be something I would love to delegate to someone else.
New countries visited for touring – Spain, Australia and Estonia. Those were fun!
When I look at some other people’s tour schedules, I feel that I should be doing more than I do, but maybe that’s just my ego.
Success #3 Study With Adam Work – Breakdown & Summary
Now I see where most of my time was spent 🙂
It’s not possible to measure the hours of customer support & interaction
and maintenance no one ever sees (web server, billing, plugins failing, hosting issues etc.)
Thank goodness I have a tech support team.
Just to give you an idea – these are the running times of the videos I made. Multiply these times by 5 to get an idea of time spent (listening & watching student uploads, shoot, edit, upload and embed onto site.)
My estimate – 300 hours work on video & PDF production:
- PDF creation for lessons supplied – 40 hours approx.
- Student Responses – 228 videos (29 hours)
- Silent Night 6 vid (30 min)
- Fly Me To The Moon 15 vids (1:48)
- Imagine 7 vids (51:38)
- Groove Drum 9 vids (53:36)
- Billie Jean 20 vids (1:17:20)
- Ray Charles / Bluesy 1 vid (8:40)
- Technique 9 vids (37:53)
- Intro & Suport 2 vids (11:53)
- Improve Your Groove – 9 vids(53:04)
- Basic Techniques 9 vids (37:53)
- Harmony 7 vids (31:14)
- Vitamin E Blues 9 vids (40:48)
- Shelter Island 6 vids (32:09)
- Mas Que nada – 9 vids (54:21)
- Michelle – 6 vids (34:18)
- Yesterday – 4 vids (24:36)
- Killing Me Softly – 9 vids (36:44)
- Aint no Sunshine – 9 vids (56:44)
- In My Life – 5 vids (32:10)
- Promo videos under public version of Silent Night – 8 vids (25 min)
Success #4 Family, Health and Inner Life
After years of living like a gypsy I have settled with the love of my life (since 2012) and am a stepdad.
This can’t be measured as it is ongoing…it takes a lot of energy, but it’s essential to where I am in my life now. I have to give what I can to the next generation and be a loving partner.
Being 47 is different from being 27 🙂
I am running 3-4 days per week. On & off workouts, but overall good & consistent.
I went to an intense psychology seminar with 2 incredible leaders that has enabled me to have a conversation with my father that I have needed to have since age 7. Heavy stuff, and will change my life.
My father and I had the first of many important talks on Jan 1, 2016, and boy – I love that man so much. He is the best.
Success #5 Online Diet:
- Stopped reading junk & spending too much time online.
- Virtually no social media I am happy to say – just the minimum.
- I am often on the computer, but not with mindless stuff. I keep it project oriented.
Success #6 Ongoing Learning:
I have recently joined a paid membership to study techniques to run a better business with StudyWithAdam.com . The benefit of paying for info is that I am not bombarded with sales pitches and can get to the point much faster.
As well, I have read several interesting books this year on everything from mindfulness, spirituality and marketing.
I haven’t been perfect but I am now getting in 30 mins a day.
2015 in Review – Failures:
Fail #1 Musical, Video & Article Output
- New Youtube Videos: 9 – that’s way too few (fans posted live vids though, whew…)
- Blog Posts: 16 – that’s way too few (5 or 6 were promo, not content)
- Composed just 3 or 4 tunes – that’s way too few.
Blog Articles, Youtube, Composing – these are 3 areas I HAVE to step up. They really fell by the wayside because I was not measuring my output.
In all fairness..
I created a considerable amount of videos & materials for my Study With Adam online students, so I was very busy, but not with content for the general public.
Fail #2 My Perfectionism Hindered Creativity
I seriously need some new, worthwhile musical goals.
Not just videos to get views, do clever covers or trickery but music that means something to me.
Without real musical goals, I often spent way too much time on “polishing” technique in the practice room, and keeping old music in practice for concerts, but not inventing and exploring.
It was a case of spending 90% of my practice time getting a 10% result. I don’t know if I sound any better – I think I just spun my wheels practice-wise because there was no real “musical project.”
In all fairness..
It was more a year of solidifying my repertoire through repetition rather than one of intense exploration and growth.
Fail #3 Another Year with no CD, but that’s OK:
2016 will be the year I make my next CD. It’s been 5 years since the last one.
In case you are wondering…here’s why have I been so slow:
- I have been puzzled by the current musical economy, and that has slowed my motivation by filling my head with the idea “what’s the point of a CD – financially speaking?” I am not saying I’m right, I’m saying the dilemma slowed me up.
- With Spotify and similar services on the horizon I don’t want to give away my efforts for free.
- I made a serious choice to open Study With Adam as a “service” because musical products (books, mp3s, videos) seem to be thought of as items that should be free these days.
Regardless of all that, I WILL do a CD in 2016 for the music’s sake, to record many
of the arrangements I now play, so you & others can listen at home & in the car to high quality, well recorded versions.
Now that StudyWIthAdam.com is up, I have the mental space to do this type of project.
Fail #4 Overall delegation needed:
I still fall into the trap of doing too much myself, so I need to get a plan in place to have other people work for me.
In all fairness..
I credit myself for hiring the tech team on StudyWithAdam.com – without them, it would be impossible.
…but I need to delegate even more.
My 2016 Goal Commitments
Of course I will continue my good habits, but I am setting the goal of patching
the following weak areas.
Here are my minimum creative output requirements for 2016 (and this post counts as post #1).
If I don’t achieve these, then please make sure that I suffer public humiliation.
- Record New CD
- Write 2 blog articles per month (or more)
- Create 1 Youtube Video per month (or more)
- Create 1 Study With Adam lesson per month
- Write 1 tune per week, even if goes into the garbage can…
- Journaling – every day, even if it is short. I need to look up a process for this.
- Nightly 5 point plan for next day (I often do this, but on days that I don’t I end up hugging a cup of coffee until 10:30 am)
- Continue meditation 30 minutes daily.
- Listen to music actively – full albums, not just here and there online.
Take 1 measurable step in the advertising of Study With Adam each month
(mailing list broadcast, free lesson creation, or other…)
- I will continue what I have been doing. I love touring…LOVE IT.
- If I am invited, chances are I will play but I have no time to “pound the pavement” building a fuller tour. My creative output is more important to me, and the resources of my time and energy are limited. Anyone wanna be my booking agent? 🙂
Accountability Partner or Mastermind Team:
My old “accountability partner” and I became great friends and we lost our meeting structure so I need a group or individual or coach to help me measure my goals & keep me on track.
It’s been too long, gotta go for a complete physical exam. Also will start taking a Yoga class, and not just do it myself, rolling around in the living room. I commit!
Lessons Learned in 2015:
- Planning and executing a worthwhile goal takes time and lots of small steps.
- Anything worth doing takes time, AND it’s important to spend one’s time on the right activities.
- I need live performing in my life, and love it. It keeps me balanced.
- I must let go of perfectionism and “just do it” in more cases.
- Someone once said “don’t get it perfect, get it done!” – I need to remember that.
- Giving to the people around me is better than receiving. Cliche but true.
- Teaching my students has a lot of meaning, more than I expected.
- Family is more important to me than I realized. I love these people in my life so much.
Thanks for reading, I hope this in some way helps or inspires you.
How did YOU do in 2015? Please comment below and let me know.
Mike Deiure says
Awesome post! Thank you for sharing. It’s really inspiration to read things like this… especially coming from another musician with similar interests.
The big unknown for me is Touring and how someone like yourself manages to tour while creating, managing and forwarding an online business. Especially one that gives so much value and takes so much of your personal time.
Thanks for doing all that you do and I look forward to an album in 2016. This has also been one of my own personal goals that I set. I’ve been on a great creative cycle and coming up with a lot of new finger style music.
Take care and much success in 2016!
Thanks Mike. It is really a stretch to do both things. I’m looking forward to your CD! Let’s trade 🙂
John Horne says
What a great post Adam! It’s very inspiring to read about others peoples successes, failures, and challenges. Thanks for being so candid – it’s what makes you a great blogger. Best wishes for an amazing 2016 full of achievements!
Thanks John! I am going to email you in a minute…
Bernd Rossmann says
really a great review! A brilliant start into another year!
I will add a tiny but personal comment only. It was my pleasure to meet you several times in 2015. Whenever we got in touch (personall, by email or on phone) I was remined that I am gifted to have YOU as a great friend! Thank you for the music, your blogs, your ideas, your thoughts … Let us continue and step all these details up in the future!
Cheers to Judith and your stepdad gang from Blomberg+Lemgo and see you soon
Bernd, you are the gift my friend! Thank you not only for supporting me personally but thanks for supporting all the other fabulous guitar players – especially the young and wild pickers! See you soon, hopefully in March / April. – AR
Thomas Bregatta says
Adam, that was a great post that hit home. For a couple of decades I made a living as a performing artist, high school assembly programs, dinner theater,playing guitar in tourist venues and bars. I was a highly rehearsed and experienced three chord, one hundred song entertainer. Steve Goodman used to refer to us as beaters. God bless Stevie, he was the greatest. I burnt myself out , I went out of style, stopped getting bookings. The better my playing got the less money I made as the competition got more intense.Now I am a groundskeeper to pay the rent. I miss my old life but I am okay with it . I never put the guitar down but I took up painting and now I am serving two masters. My paints and my guitar.
My work makes me tired but my creative spirit continues to nag at me all day, thank God.
I do work on some finger style stuff but what really floats my boat is reading melody lines out of the American song book. Actually trying to read and understand, taking apart and transposing has taken me to another level. Listening back on some of these sessions is agonizing but about 10% percent of sounds good enough to keep going.
That said , until reading your post I was wondering what to give up , guitar playing or painting.
I love both of these gifts dearly, I thought there was a conflict until I read your post. I now realize that I can evolve into a different kind of artist, you gave me some good ideas about time management and self improvement.
My days as a groundskeeper are numbered but my days as an artist in sight and sound are just beginning to unfold. I don’t miss playing in bars one bit . I began to find it to be tedious , I got tired of my act, it was leading me nowhere, worse than being a groundskeeper.
Your words, your good work and your message are helping me navigate through this maze I am wandering through.
Jeff Proulx says
Thomas, please get on you tube and check out my college guitar professor, Nelson Amos. He is an accomplished classical guitarist and an excellent painter. And a really nice man to boot. He is retired, so he’s got a pension (probably not much though–I remember hjs published annual salary being less than 40K). He’s doing both and making it work. Perhaps you could too. Follow your heart, and never give up. Never give up.
I re-read your comment, and big thank you. My artistic life, priorities and life are ever shifting as well.
No idea what the future brings 🙂
Keep rockin it!
Jeff Proulx says
Too much I want to say to comment, but I am enjoying your website,. I am learning from the Stevie Wonder and the Michael Jackson DVDs you’ve published. The funny thing is, playing your arrangements has in creased my hand strength! I’m not sure if anyone else has said that before, but Tommy Emmanuel has said he continually works on hand strength, and I found I could not play your stuff cleanly without getting a little stronger.
Also, your Christmas CD knocked me out. I listened to it over and over, and I still play it in my car when I am alone when it is not even close to Christmas.
I think it would be worth your while to come to Michigan to play The Ark, which is a great listening room in Ann Arbor you will never forget (Michael Hedges used to play there), and also the Michigan Guitar Fingerstyle Society which is a metro-Detroit area organization. Artists usually do a workshop in the afternoon and a concert at night. I too my children to seen Muriel Anderson there. There is also a venue in Kalamazoo that supports acoustic music. I’ll put you up. Seriously, you could stay at my house rather than forking out for a hotel. I’m an hour from Detroit and Ann Arbor each, and probably 3 hours from Kalamazoo. The offer stands whenever your schedule allows.
Thanks for the sacrifices you make to put your music and your teaching out there.
denis clayton says
Hi Adam.Take kindly the counselling of the years gracefully surrendering the things of youth.Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in times of sudden misfortunes,Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline be kind to yourself.You are a child of the universe you have a right to be here and whether or not it is clear to you no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should,Therefor be at peace with God or whatever you conceive him to be,and whatever your labors and aspiriations in the noisy confusion of life,keep peace with your soul,
Denis, big thank you. AR
You’ve inspired me to write the same!
Here we go, here’s my 2015 review 🙂
1) 16 June 2015, my 1st month on SWA, I’ve written down my very first monthly goals .
My goals here were: overcome nervousness while playing for others, start to study your “I Wish” arrangement, and had a wonderful day in Rigomagno (Siena), at Mike Dawes Gig + Private Lesson + Short Video-memory with him (you can watch it if you want here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u37M5GzzuT4 ). It was a funny try, because he already had his own arrangement of Superstition, but with a capo at 5th fret on my guitar, playing your version was awesome for me! 🙂
The main reason of that lesson was learning “Somebody that I Used to know”, but I’ve gave up, but I’m happy because I’ve learnt a lot of nice percussive techniques.
2) July – My Second month on SWA.
I’ve started to work on the repertoire feat. my singer Sara, for our 1st wedding-gig in September. Did my first duo (voice+guitar) gigs (also a beneficence gig), and recorded a couple remote-covers feat. Anu, an UK girl who loves playing the guitar, here some links:
3) August – My singer Sara, encouraged me to sing. Purchased the Hand-Drum and started SWA groove exercises daily, writing harmony exercises on Guitar Pro, rehearsal tracklist for the wedding. Also planned several YouTube covers feat. Sara (ain’t nobody by chaka chan received a like from Jon Gomm, I was so happy, his arrangament is awesome! 🙂 here the link of our cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OdRV7KzOtA ). Did some videos with the XFactor 9 Finalists “Urban Strangers”, before they became famous in Italy. Did a street gig.
4) September – Billie Jean, a couple of gigs, and… MY 1ST Wedding-Gig, I was so excited. Thanks to this season-goal now I have a good repertoire 🙂
5) October – Billie Jean, a couple of gigs and Copyrighted my 1st original “Australia” at SIAE Italy.
6) November – Practicing the whole Billie Jean arrangement, Singing exercises and a few gigs with Sara.
7) December – A couple gigs, and a remote jam feat. Igor Presnyakov (here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZGySgbAzLA )
It was nice to recap the last year goals!
Thanks for the inspiration, the teaching and the hints…
See you soon Adam,
Great work, and congrats on logging your accomplishments! You are a shining talent, keep it up!!!