Macro & Micro Goal-Setting

It takes intentionality and realistic expectations to connect the dots between your dreams and your daily lived experience. These goal-setting activities aim to be that connective tissue for you as a singer.

(6-minute read time)

Photo by Brett Jordan on  Unsplash

“A dream is something that you want to happen but is not fully under your control. A dream has outside influences and therefore you cannot guarantee that it will happen. It is just a wish. Goals are something you can set and achieve because you have full control of them. Goals increase the chances of dreams happening.”

Dr Steve Peters, “The Chimp Paradox”


This concept and set of activities is intended to be a springboard that you can use to build your own habits around goal-setting. Inspiration and momentum is the intention, not rigidity and frustration. Find your own way.

  1. Write down your dreams
  2. Brainstorm activities that could bring you closer to your dreams
  3. Rewrite your activities as macro-goals
  4. Break your macro-goals down into micro-goals
  5. Add the micro-goals to your diary



In theory, our dreams are allowed to be nebulous and out-of-touch with reality. But in practice, grounding them in the realm of possibility is much more fun…because it translates into lived experience instead of remaining as wishful thinking.

How do you dream? Do you use a vision board? Write down a purpose with objectives? Journal freely about your aspirations? Have a life coach or trainer to hold you accountable for planning and completion?

Whichever mode works for you, see what it is like to consider what you would insert into the blanks in these statements:

  1. I hope that my music/singing will give me __________.
  2. I hope that my music/singing will give others ________.
  3. When this occurs, I hope I will feel __________.

Here is an example of one of my current answers:

  1. I hope that my music/singing will give me a flexible & adaptable mind.
  2. I hope that my music/singing will give others a sense of being understood as they recognise themselves in the music I share.
  3. When this occurs, I hope I will feel peace and satisfaction from the happy dance between challenge and progress.

Ok – now it’s your turn.

Take some time to dream without judgement. Then brainstorm what sorts of activities might be involved.

Using my example above, my activities could include routine practice; identifying the song stories I feel called to tell; and making the most of opportunities to perform.

Here are two other examples:


Dream Activity Brainstorm
Write an album of original songs Classes on song writing
Learning a second instrument
Keeping a notebook for song lyrics
Active listening of other songwriters
Be cast in a particular role in a musical Vocal styling techniques to fit the genre
Technical training for the song needs
Accent work to fit the character
Acting training


There is no rush in moving onto the next phase. Take as long as you need to dream and allow clarity to shape your path. Think of it like a Map smart phone app…it is incapable of giving you directions until you select a destination.

When you have written down some big picture ideas, it is time to translate that into practical goals. The following activities will enable you to get more specific and drill down into the various levels of planning.



“being large, thick, or exceptionally prominent”

This is a definition of “macro” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary that applies to our goal-setting extremely well. Since it is easy to set goals that are complicated, over-reaching and unattainable, choosing descriptors that keep its features “exceptionally prominent” is vital. Our next step of breaking our dream down into achievable and accessible chunks is at the heart of making steady progress.

Here are two exercises you could try as a springboard to creating your macro-goals.


You’ve all heard of “smart” goals, but how about “magic” goals? This framework (thanks to Christopher Sutton of Musical U) is a creative way to shape your macro-goals.

M – Musical – Does this goal feel as fun and exciting as music is?

A – Attainable – Can I really see myself achieving this goal in a reasonable amount of time?

G – Growth-oriented – Will reaching this goal help me grow into the musician I dream to be?

I – Interesting – Am I actually interested in reaching this goal?

C – Clear – Is my goal clear enough that I will know with certainty whether I’ve reached it?


Let’s return to one of my dreams and you can follow me through a goal-setting exercise.

My Dream = I hope that my music/singing will give me a flexible & adaptable mind.

I have written two macro-goal activities for this dream and will now put them through the MAGIC test to see if they are going to truly help me or not.

Macro-goal 1 – regular yet spontaneous practice that promotes flow and mindfulness

Conclusion – this goal statement needs tweaking! I need to define “regular” and “practice”. Eg, every second day for ten minutes per instrument; I will practice skills that are new or inconsistent.

Macro-goal 2 – use the language of jazz theory to expand my improvising

Conclusion – I need to adjust the goal to include the “how” and “what”. Eg, I will do the Sharny Russell jazz self-accompaniment course and apply what I learn to accompanying myself to sing “The Best is Yet to Come”.


Another way to work out what your macro-goals are is to do a self-reflection exercise in the context of your dream statements.

Consider the skills and resources you require to mobilise your activities. Make a dot point list of them under these categories:

Sketch a continuum like this and put a circle on it to show where you think you are right now in each category.


Next, answer these questions for each category.

  1. What would it take for you to move along the spectrum one notch?
  2. How long is it likely to take, considering the realities of your lifestyle?
  3. What do you need/want from your coach to support this goal?

Use your reflection insights to flesh out the activities you brainstormed. You are starting to get some serious traction to bring your dreams to life.



This level of goal-setting is where you get into the nitty gritty of creating tasks that enable you to chip away at the work. You want this to feel relevant, enjoyable and transformative.

The key here is to make the steps as action-oriented and singular as you need.

We are all different, so take a moment to consider how you work best. Is it enough to set yourself a micro-goal that says “Organise your practice space and resources by Monday.”

Or do you need smaller steps? Like this:

And so on, you get the idea.

Here is an example of a model that will help you identify your micro-goals for any given macro-goal.


  1. Discover what you’re doing
    This stage is the deeply necessary “what” phase of a new task. What tools and resources will you need? Time? Space? Equipment? Support? Like a detective gathering evidence, the picture will slowly take shape as I explore it.
  2. Develop how you’re going to do it
    This is the gloriously messy and curious play phase. Trying a range of ways of doing things is incredibly valuable to the brain.
  3. Learn to deliver what you developed
    This is exactly what it sounds like. Now that I know what I am doing and I have tried a bunch of ways to mess around with it, how will that be distilled into something I share with other people?


By way of example, if my macro-goal was learning a new song, this break-down into micro-goals might include:


  • lyric exploration (paraphrase, read aloud, memorise)
  • melody exploration
    (intervals, rhythm and phrasing)
  • song structure (deconstruct and prepare one section at a time, or all the similar sections, or work the hardest section first)
  • add instrumental track or self accompaniment – that integration alone deserves time
  • melody exploration (slow it down, sing it a Cappella, sing it with a melody line recording, sing it in a different genre style)
  • story interpretation (emotions, story arc, composer intention, dramatic context to show or album)
  • character layers (objective, obstacles, changes)
  • try singing the song as many difference ways as you can, even if it’s against the song meaning – notice the colours and textures that arrive and surprise you. Brains love the range and it will serve you in the performance moment.
  • full memorisation of lyric, melody, integration with accompaniment and story intentions
  • stagecraft (physicality, facial expression, eye line)



This process is usually not a “one and done” scenario. As you find your own way to do your goal-setting, notice the rhythms and time intervals that work for you.

For instance, if you start to neglect your micro-goals, it could be time to revisit some of the steps. Perhaps you chose steps that were too big for you, or they weren’t motivating you in the right way. Don’t feel guilty. Change the map.

As you get used to how long those intervals are, start planning in advance to set aside time to dream and plan.

If you enjoyed these tips and ideas, why not sign up for the Glengrove Studio newsletter.

To subscribe, click here or click on the NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP button at the top of this webpage.


Gilkey, C. (2019). Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done. Sounds True, Colorado

Helding, L. (2020). The Musician’s Mind: teaching, learning and performance in the age of brain science. Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland

Peters, S. “The Chimp Paradox”, as quoted by Line Hilton in the BAST Podcast Ep 33

Sutton, C.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email to a Friend

Join our mailing list and stay up to date with the latest news, updates and resources.