Susan Elkin, The Stage, 2014
With every new year comes new hope and resolution and, for many, January is the most productive month of the year when it comes to getting motivated, making plans, setting goals and writing general letters for work in the future. You don't need to start in the New Year though, your year can start and finish at anytime (so, for instance, if you started on 23rd April 2021, your year would end on 22nd April 2022).
As 2020 was such a strange year, and things will take longer to get going in 2021 as a result, it is especially important to be realistic and more flexible when setting timeframes for your goals, as these may change at short notice and be out of your control. See how things go and re-evaluate your goals and timeframes regularly, making changes whenever necessary.
So here are some things to do to help you get your career into gear and keep you motivated throughout the year...
The first thing to do is decide what you want to achieve career-wise this year and think of 5 goals which you can complete successfully by the 31st of December 2021. What might these include? Obtaining an audition for your favourite theatre company, perhaps, getting into your chosen drama school, gaining more work on camera, finding the right agent, becoming more physically fit... the list is endless, so write a long list and then think carefully which are the most important to you and write them down on a clean sheet of paper. Here are three points which will help you to succeed:
Firstly, it's essential to ensure that the five things you choose are achievable in the timeframe (you might want to set shorter time limits for easier tasks, say a few weeks or 3 or 6 months instead of the full year). By achievable, I mean pick realistic goals - it's unlikely, though not impossible, that you will star in a Hollywood blockbuster movie by the end of the year, but you may have more chance playing a part for which you are perfect casting in a theatre near where you live. Make one or two of your goals something you know that is in your power to do. Reading a play or learning a new song every month, taking a dance class or checking the casting information websites each week, for instance, are things that can be achieved easily and quickly and will get ticks on your list. These ticks are very important to keep yourself motivated and it's a great feeling putting that tick on your sheet and knowing you've succeeded. You can tick off a repeated goal each week or month as you do it (ticks are important and I use a thick red marker pen to make my ticks).
Secondly, when choosing your goals, it's important to be specific with the wording when writing down what you want. For example, if you were to make one of them 'By the 31st of December 2021 I will have worked in a theatre', this is fairly easy to achieve, as it doesn't say what doing... you might have been behind the bar, showing people to their seats or sweeping the stage, rather than acting, singing and dancing. You might also write 'By the 31st of December 2021 I will have acted in a play', which again is achievable but doesn't give you anything to target or focus upon. However, if you were to write 'By the 31st of December 2021 I will have had an audition with (name of theatre company, TV show, drama school or director) / for (name of production, TV show or drama school) and have had a recall and an offer of work / a place as a result', this gives you a far narrower scope to aim for and you will stand a greater chance of succeeding as a result. When you have decided on your five goals, look at each and write a plan of action for achieving it. This should include time frames for each step, which should be specific ('by March 31st, I will have researched x and by July 12th I will have spoken to y', for example) and also written in your diary or set reminders in your phone or calendar to keep you on track.
Lastly, write out your list and plan of action legibly (here's a link to a ready made sheet that you can download, print and use) and put the sheet of paper in a place where you will look at it every day. This might be on the wall next to your bed, stuck to the bathroom cabinet, fridge or front door, wherever is best for you, but make sure you look at it every day and read it through at least once a week - whatever you do, don't hide it! Make a note in your diary to evaluate your progress regularly (every month or two is good), make time in your schedule to work on your goals and don't be afraid to prioritise the most important ones and change or fine tune each goal as necessary, as sometimes desires change or people move on.
The more specific and rigorous about sticking to your plan of action you are, the more goals you will achieve. If on the 31st of December you don't have all five big ticks on your list, think about those you have achieved and what else you could have done to have gained the other ticks. Perhaps you'll want to refine the unfinished goals and put them at the top of your list for 2022.
It can be much easier to stay motivated and achieve your goals with the help of a 'Goal Buddy' or networking group (we talk about these on page 12 of the book). If someone is encouraging, chivvying or even nagging you to do what you've said you'd do, when you said you would do it, it really makes things easier for you, and makes you feel good as you'll also be doing the same for them, therefore gaining mutual support.
Lastly, keep a sheet of your achievements on display too. Looking at this will remind you how well you are doing and have done in the past and help to motivate you to achieve your goals, as well as in life in general.
There's no time like the present to formulate your goals and put them into action, especially if it's the New Year, so go for it and remember
Go to the DOWNLOADS page to get a printable sheets on which to formulate and display your goals and achievements.
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