Goal Setting is Good for Actors But…

Goal Setting is Good for Actors But…

Let’s get this straight. I am a huge fan of goals. Every year I set goals. And every year I smash my goals. I write down written goals during the break between when Russia (my wife’s homeland) and Britain celebrate New Year. This year, I had 15 goals for the year and I’m doing pretty well so far and it’s only March.

Having written goals is powerful. In studies, they’ve proven that those with written stated goals are more successful than those without. You should have written goals for your acting career. BUT….

There are two BUTs actually.

A Good Goal is Within Your Control

A goal that isn’t within your direct control is a wish. You want an Oscar - sorry, it’s not in your control. You don’t pick the Oscar winners, so it’s out of your control. You want it, but that doesn’t make it a goal. Think of a goal as a target that your own actions will lead directly to the success. Without requiring someone else to help you. Your goal is not for your short film to be accepted into a festival. That’s not in control. You could make a goal to make the kind of film that’s accepted at festivals, it would certainly stand a better chance.

So BUT 1 is - make sure the outcome of the goal is within your control.

A Goal is Good, but a System is Better

A goal is a result. But it’s actually more like a destination that you would like to arrive at some time in the future. Successful actors and unsuccessful actors often have the same goals.

Scott Adams, the author of Dilbert said: “Goal oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst.

Successful people don’t just set goals. They create a system that helps to achieve those goals. You need to write down the simple, repeatable habits which you will use to achieve those goals.

My students want to be better at Scene Analysis. The goal is to improve their scene analysis skills. Repeatedly doing scene analysis may or may not achieve that. But what they should do is to develop their own system for scene analysis that makes scene analysis easy. Change will then be inevitable. Certainly doing one scene analysis per day will probably improve their scene analysis skills. They will improve even greater, if there is a repeatable system to how you do it. The positive self aware habits that you created around scene analysis will make you believe that you can do better scene analysis, because you are getting better.

Habits change who we are. The actor that wants to win an Oscar shouldn’t worry about trying to get the Oscar. They should ask themselves what kind of actor or what kind of person wins Oscar, and then choose to behave that way.

So BUT 2, goals are great for targets, but it’s the systems that get you there. Without a system, you have a destination but not an effective means of getting there.

Goals are good, but following these two pieces of advice will make them much more achievable and you can increase the chances of success.  

To You The Best


Mark Westbrook is an Audition Success Coach in Scotland.

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