Are You Goal-Oriented or Result-Oriented?

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As you travel the path of the artist, it’s good to have goals to reach for and grow toward.

There’s a lot that is positive in having guideposts to work toward in a career that is, by nature, unpredictable and unstructured.

Charting your progress by results on the other hand can be both dangerous and discouraging.

I had an actor say to me the other day that his goal is to book three co-star roles in the next six months. That’s not a goal, but a desire for a specific result that, because of circumstances entirely out of the actor’s control, will probably not work out. Enforcing your agenda on the business is not goal-making, it’s an attempt to control the uncontrollable. Results are guaranteed to no one.

Here are some thoughts on the differences between goal-focused and result-focused people:

  • People focusing on goals tend to embrace process.
  • People focusing on results tend to want shortcuts.
  • Focusing on goals keeps you connected and aware.
  • Focusing on results can create blinders that shut others out.
  • In achieving goals you learn to be flexible and to problem-solve.
  • In trying to achieve a result you become rigid and stubborn.
  • Goal-oriented people are present for every step of the journey.
  • Result-oriented people only show up for what they think will get them what they want.
  • Goal-oriented people are open to help, knowing that sometimes they’re not the best judge of what is best for them.
  • Result-oriented people can be closed off to any way but their own
  • Goals create positive energy.
  • Striving for results creates anxiety and fear of failure.
  • Goals are rooted in realistic accomplishment.
  • Results are rooted in desire and fantasy.

A poignant example of the difference between goals and results took place at this year’s U.S. Open, which saw Serena Williams two matches away from the grand slam—a feat only three other female tennis players had achieved. She was playing someone to whom she had never lost and it looked like a clear path to the final. But somewhere in the second set you could see her really start to think about the result. She fell out of the moment and forgot to take care of the business at hand. Suddenly, one of the greatest tennis players of all time couldn’t move her feet, breathe, or even get her racket back in time. The hugeness of the destination pulled her off the path. Her opponent, with no expectations as far as the result went, (she had a plane ticket home that night!) was able to focus on the moment and achieve her goal, which was simply to play her best tennis in her first grand slam semi-final. And she won.

  • Presence in the moment always trumps desire for an outcome.
  • Now let’s see how the goal- and result-oriented actors fare in the audition room:
  • The goal-oriented actor is excited for the experience and the chance to test how far they have come.
  • The result-oriented actor looks at the experience as an obstacle to their desired result.
  • Goal-oriented actors are present and available in their auditions.
  • Result-oriented actors can be anticipatory and closed off.
  • Because they are present and available, goal-oriented actors tend to be people with whom you would want to work.
  • Result-oriented actors are harder to like because they are showing up for the job and not the audition, so it’s unclear who they really are.
  • Goal-oriented actors lean in to the work and the room, experiencing all of the moments with a fresh, open mind.
  • Result oriented actors can be defensive, not fully engaged in the room, and risk-averse in their work for fear of losing the job.
  • There is no room for fearful defense in an audition. The job-getters play relaxed, fluid, and powerful offense.

Power comes from relaxation not tension, so don’t tie yourself up in knots over the result. Make your goal to savor the experience of the audition—to be present, connected, dynamic, involved, available, flexible, and likable. These are the qualities working actors display in their auditions, and it would be a good idea to form some goals around being great at all of them.

Then you’ll find that the results just may begin to take care of themselves.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Craig Wallace
Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of the Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent, and casting consultant.
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