How to Define Success on Your Own Terms

This is a follow-up post to my article …

(You might want to read that first.)

A lot of musicians, writers, artists, and creative entrepreneurs feel the world owes them a living simply because they exist.

As I hammered home in the previous post, it’s healthy and empowering to instead accept personal responsibility for where you are with your aspirations.

To clarify, when I suggest that you do away with a sense of entitlement, I don’t mean you should water down your ambitions or assume the worst.

You can pursue your passions with confidence and authority without expecting that recognition and sales will magically show up. It’s not an either/or proposition.

The truth is, there are so many variables that can affect an artist’s career growth: talent, charisma, work ethic, long-term commitment, communication skills, the ability to embrace marketing and connect with fans, and more.

Plus, there are as many definitions of “success” as there are creative people pursuing it.

One artist’s “dream come true” is another artist’s example of “failure.” And, what you think of as triumphant today might very well be considered a minor incident five years from now.

So, how do you measure where you are and decide where you want to go?

That’s your homework with this post:

Think long and hard about how you define success. Is it truly your definition, or is it based on an outdated perception or someone else’s ranking system?

Also, do you require material markers to measure your growth, such as the number of fans acquired or units sold or monthly income generated?

Your ultimate task may be this:

Be flexible with the goals and prerequisites you set.

If you don’t attain X right away, can you be happy with Y? If Z pops up as an unexpected opportunity, would you be willing to pivot and try something new?

Finally, even though the world doesn’t owe you a living and there are no guarantees, you can still improve your odds of getting what you want.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Instead of wallowing in self-pity, choose to be positively pro-active.
  • Instead of giving up in disgust, switch gears and try a different angle.
  • Instead of delivering sermons on how you and other artists are struggling, seek out true stories about independent artists who are succeeding on their own terms, and be inspired by them.
  • Instead of doing the same things over and over and gaining little traction, take an objective view of your habits and prune away activities that no longer serve you.

Bottom line

Clearly define what success means to you, and be open-minded about where you end up and how you get there.

(This article was adapted from my book, The Empowered Artist: A Call to Action for Musicians, Writers, Visual Artists, and Anyone Who Wants to Make a Difference With Their Creativity.)

I’d love your thoughts on this!

Please leave a comment, give this article a clap or five :) and share it with someone who would benefit from reading it.

This is Day 24 of my 30-Day Blog Writing Challenge.

Bob Baker helps musicians, authors, artists, and creative entrepreneurs use their talents and know-how to make a living and make a difference in the world!

Listen to his Creative Entrepreneur or Music Marketing podcasts.

Check out Bob’s books on Amazon and follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

He also creates affirmation and guided meditation recordings on his YouTube channel, Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms.

My mission in life is to inspire & empower people through audio affirmations, guided meditations, books, podcasts, music, art, coaching, and improv comedy.

My mission in life is to inspire & empower people through audio affirmations, guided meditations, books, podcasts, music, art, coaching, and improv comedy.