Successful Goal Achievement – 5 Steps to Help You Overcome Your Obstacles to Success

In my last article, we saw how a great goal might get sabotaged by a host of different challenges, ranging from lack of technical skills, professional experience and career advancement to lack of money to negative thoughts that cast doubts on your abilities to poor time management. If you are committed to your goal, you have faced the music and have made a list of all your challenges. The next step is to come up with strategies for overcoming those challenges and breaking those down into the weekly actions that will get you to your goals.


Let’s continue with our example of the young musician whose goal is to get to Carnegie Hall and who hits a glitch when all those challenges we mentioned start to interfere with his ability to practice his instrument.

1. The Ideal You

First, let’s look on the bright side and think about the Ideal You. Where would you ideally like to be in your career in terms of your 

o Skills & Education 

o Money 

o Professional Experience 

o Personal Development 

o Career Development 

o Other

Write down all of the characteristics that you would need to be the successful musician that is performing in Carnegie Hall.

Here’s what your list might look like:

o Technically brilliant 

o Inspiring 

o Confident 

o Well-known 

o Innovative 

o Positive 

o Committed 

o Passionate 

o Energetic 

o Takes advantage of opportunities 

o Consistent 

o Professional 

o Financially secure 

o Organized

2. Rate Yourself

Now that you have your list, how do you rate yourself on each of these characteristics on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “absolutely there”? This will give you a snapshot of where you currently stand. Then pick the characteristics that you would like to build on and that you feel will get you closer to your goal if you are able to reach the level that you aspire to. I suggest focusing on 3-5 characteristics at any one time so that you are able to manage your career development program most effectively.

If you are a young musician who is dreams of making a Carnegie Hall debut, your list might look something like this: 

o Technically brilliant: 7 

o Confident: 4 

o Organized: 3 

o Well-known: 4 

o Financially secure: 3

3. Strategize

Take a look at your list. What might you do to tap into that Ideal Self and close the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be? 

o Technically brilliant: Keep up a rigorous practice schedule. 

o Confident: Get more performance opportunities. Keep practicing so that I feel that I am improving as a musician. Get a handle on my inner critic and start thinking positively about myself. 

o Organized: learn some time management techniques and start prioritizing better 

o Well-known: Create a website. Start networking more. 

o Financially secure: Get more private students. Get more concerts.

4. Create Your Action Plan

Now that you have your strategies, it is time to turn these into weekly actions because goal achievement happens when you take steps each week. Which strategies do you want to start working on? Then ask yourself what is the first step towards making that strategy a reality. 

o Musicianship: Practice 4 hours a day 6 days a week. 

o Confident: Write to 2 presenters whom I recently met and see if I can do a concert with each of them this year. Journal about my fears around my career. 

o Organized: Create a values-based list of priorities and implement the first priority this week. 

o Well-known: Contact my college roommate about designing my website in exchange for music lessons. Attend 1 post-concert reception this week. 

o Financially secure: Follow-up on a referral from a current student. Contact venue where I played last year.

5. Just Do It!

Now you know what to do. Just do it! Block in your actions to your calendar and check them off as you complete them. Once you complete one action, figure out the next step and do that. Before you know it, you will have reached your goal.


(C) Astrid Baumgardner 2010




I would be delighted if you should wish to reprint (for free) any part of this article in your newsletters, blogs, websites, and message boards. Please include the following attribution:


Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success.  In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and  Personal Branding and Networking.  She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success.