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Business of Acting

5 Keys to Setting Goals That You Can Actually Achieve

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Ah, January. You've got a clean slate. Excitement is in the air. It's time to get to work on achieving your New Year's resolutions. Have you ever noticed that some of the same ones are on your list every year? You haven't made them happen yet, and you wonder if this year will be any different. Well, it can be. Read on for pitfalls to avoid and the five keys to success.

The top three reasons New Year's resolutions fail:

1. The resolution is in the impossible realm.

Often we articulate goals that are impossible to accomplish in the time frame we are giving them. When we do this, we doom ourselves to failure from the outset. We usually know this subconsciously, so we don't give the goal our all, which also leads to failure.

2. We have no structure in place to support us.

Accomplishments happen in structures. Think about it. The gym is a structure for the accomplishment of fitness. Acting class is a structure for the accomplishment of acting skills. Why would our New Year's resolutions be any different?

3. We have no concrete plan for accomplishing it.

All successful businesses have a business plan. Even if a fluke idea becomes successful, the business must have a plan for capitalizing on that success. That said, you don't want your year to be a fluke. Your resolutions are the goals to which you are dedicating yourself. So you need to have a business plan for your acting career, aka your business.

The top five keys to accomplishing New Year's resolutions:

1. Identify a goal that is not impossible, not predictable, but a breakthrough.

We've talked about how an inaccurate time frame can make a goal impossible. "Predictable" is a goal you've already achieved. Goals are most powerful when articulated in between impossible and predictable, the sweet spot that is a breakthrough.

2. Put a structure in place for accomplishing the goal.

Now that we understand why a structure is important, make sure to join or create one. You could join a career coaching class or put together a group of dedicated "accountability buddies" with whom you meet once a week. A word of caution in putting together a group: Be selective. Choose people who really share your commitment and are accountable and truly supportive. Also, put some structure in your structure. A group of friends can become a gossip-fest if your time isn't well-planned.

3. Enroll a team to support you, advise you, and hold you accountable.

Nothing of any scope or magnitude in life happens alone. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto, and both had horses. In addition to accountability partners, you need to work with your representation as a team. You also need a mentor (or two), a coach, and the support of your significant other.

4. Develop a plan that includes a timeline of deadlines and milestones.

Now that you understand how important a business plan is, create one. Your plan should include your goal, a timeline, and an action plan. Share it with your team to get their feedback.

5. See and share it every day.

Print out your goal, and post it in places where you see it often: your workspace, computer desktop, even your car. The more you see it in writing and put it out in the world, the more you will see it in your life.

Shawn Tolleson is a career coach and a writer-director living in Los Angeles. With her company Strategy Coaching (www.strategy-coaching.net), she guides entertainment industry professionals to accomplishing career breakthroughs.

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