Why Goals Don’t Work (And What To Do Instead)
You suck at sticking to your plans.
Healthy smoothies; sometimes. Reaching out to casting directors; here and there. Do your tax return early this year; sure, sure, I’ll get to it. Learning new monologues, doing more singing lessons… you see where I’m going with this.
How much money have you wasted on gym memberships or actors center membership or any kind of membership in the past because you just didn’t stick to your goals?
I bet it’s a lot right?
If you’re reading this and thinking;
“Hey, I’m actually really good at doing everything I say I’m going to do. I always achieve exactly what I set out to because I’m awesome at life.”
…then good for you. The rest of us who struggle to even get out of our cozy slumber in the mornings wish you all the best but we’ve got work to do.
If you’re with me on the other side of the fence don’t worry, you’re not a bad person, the odds are stacked against you but I am here today to show you exactly why you are setting yourself up for a fall and, more importantly, what to do about it.
How The Story Usually Goes
Here is how you usually set a goal for yourself:
At some point during the course of your year something happens and you decide – I want to do this.
January the 1st rolls around and it seems convenient so you set yourself a New Years Resolution and tell yourself that “this year will be the year”.
You might start out well, maybe even get a month or two in, but eventually you start slipping. One slip turns into a couple, turns into once a week and before you know it you’re back to Sunday morning lie-ins every day, no gym and watching just one more episode of Ru Paul instead of sorting your life out.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
This method is always going to let you down. Always.
Deciding what you want to achieve is only one part of a crucial 3-stage process you need to follow at a minimum if you have any chance of realising your goals and changing your behaviour so you can carry that achievement with you for the rest of your life.
And here’s just how to do that…
What Do You Want
You’ve seen the notebook right? If you have then you’re probably already quoting Ryan Gosling in your head right now. If not, here is the most useful 15 seconds of footage from that film to catch you up with the rest of us.
To set yourself a goal that really means something it has to come from a really deep-rooted desire to change something about yourself or the actions you take in life.
Ask yourself: “What is my greatest limiting belief about myself as an actor”, “What areas of my career am I most unclear about?”, “What am I most disappointed about looking back at my actions over the last year?”
Truthfully answering these questions will guide you towards something meaningful that has the potential to make a great impact on your life and career.
Once you have chosen something you would like to achieve, in general…
Make It S.M.A.R.T.E.R.
SMARTER is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound, Exciting, Relevant. To be a properly formed goal it needs to satisfy each of those criteria.
Lets’ start with:
“Get into Voiceover acting”.
Getting “into” voice acting is not very specific and doesn’t have any real actions attached to it so lets change it to:
“Get some voiceover jobs.” That’s more specific and actionable but we can make it more measurable:
“Record five paid voiceover jobs.” Now it’s measurable but is it realistic? Probably not. How about:
“Record a paid voiceover job.” Now let’s give it a deadline to have achieved it by.
“Record a paid voiceover job by November 1st.” Try and avoid sticking Dec 31st on everything. That’s just an arbitrary date with no relevance. Next we need to ask ourselves the two crucial questions:
Does this excite me? Yes.
Is it the most relevent goal for what I want to achieve right now? Well… I don’t have a voicereel yet so how can I expect to book any work. Then maybe you need to consider changing the goal to something more relevant, like:
“Record a voicereel by August 1st” and then make that SMARTER so you arrive at something like:
“Record a 4 track voicereel including Commercial, Prose, Documentary & Sung tracks by August 1st”
Find Your Why
Now that you have your smarter goal written down it’s crucial that you take that to the next step which is documenting why this means so much to you.
If it doesn’t mean all that much to you then why bother having it as a goal. But if you do have a powerful, compelling reason for achieving it then you need to put a finger on exactly what that is so it can fuel you and keep you motivated while you are on the path to achieving it.
To find your Key Motivation, the reason above all others that this is important enough for you to want to strive for, write down as many answers as you can think of for the following:
Why do I want to achieve this? Will it make you more financially stable, get you more jobs, get you in better shape?
Why is it important to me? Will you feel more confident in auditions, know more about your industry, have a better quality of life?
What is at stake if I don’t achieve this? Will you continue to just scrape by, never get any more auditions, never feel in control of your own career. Will you feel like a failure, disappoint your family?
What is at stake if I do achieve this? Might you finally be able to afford a nicer house, have more time to spend with your partner, feel more creatively fulfilled?
Once you have given as many answers as you can think of to each of those questions read back over them and pull out the one that resonates most with you. This should be the thing that really lights your fire, makes you happy or angry most frustrated or excited.
This is your key motivation.
Wherever your goal goes your key motivation goes with it. Repeat this process for 3-5 goals that you want to achieve this year.
You now have a crystal clear set of goals that you want to achieve this year and a set of key motivations that remind you why you are doing this when you start slipping and help you get back on the horse.
Write these out somewhere, a big sheet of paper maybe or a whiteboard, and stick it somewhere that you have to walk past every day.
Once a week ask yourself – “What is the very next thing I need to do to get closer to achieving this goal” and put that action on your calendar for the week ahead.
Soon you’ll be taking over the world.
Q. What is one goal that you want to achieve this year.
Write in the comments below.