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Actor Goal Setting

As I write this article a new year has just begun and setting new goals seems to be on everyone’s mind. However no matter when you might find this article you can use these powerful tools to jump start your acting career and most importantly create the right mindset for long term success.

My personal acting career began over 15 years ago and it was not until just today that I curiously researched “what is the failure rate for actors?”.  I guess the reason is because failure never was and still is just not an option.  The key to success in this industry is not unlike any other profession in the world.  There is a daily choice to get a little better and a commitment to never quit acting no matter what.

So having said that… Let’s set some goals.

  1. BEGIN BIG.  Set your 10 year goals first.  But be careful what you wish for… If you set your goals to things that are out of your own control you will be doomed for failure and disappointment.  Either one of two things will happen – 1. You won’t reach your goal and therefore break the golden rule of not quitting or 2. You will reach your goal and realize that the thing you thought you wanted doesn’t actually make you happy which will probably lead to more quitting.  Bad Goals would include a variation of the following… “I want to have an agent” “I want to be a lead in a movie” “I want to be the star of a TV show” “I want to be famous” etc.  The reason none of these goals will work for you is that there is nothing you can do to guarantee them to come true.  Instead an Actor Goal should be skill based… “I will have mastered 10 shakespeare monologues” “I will have a strong voice and precise diction” “I will read 20 plays and 10 books on acting” etc.  Then of course the fun part.  Once you have the skills all those other things you thought you wanted will start to come true only they won’t be unfulfilling because your focus is on mastery of craft rather than a superficial role.
  2. WORK BACKWARDS.  Once 10 years is complete move on to 5 then 1 and then all the way down to today.  Ask yourself the question: What could I do today that would get me closer to my goal for this week which will get me closer to my goal this month, year etc.
  3. START SMALL.  It is extremely important that you start today but much like working out one day won’t remove 10 years of belly fat storage, neither will one binge day of acting work.  Pick one thing you can work on and accomplish.  So instead of saying you will master a monologue by the end of the day simply commit to choosing the right monologue and printing it out to begin your memorization process the next day.
  4. BE CONSISTENT.   I once asked one of my private lesson students Frank Caliendo why he didn’t do a particular impression of a political figure and his response was “It’s not worth my time… that person will be forgotten in 6 months and it takes me 2 years to master an impression”.  2 YEARS!!! Let that sink in for a minute.  One of the foremost impressionists in the world takes 2 years to master an impression.  And the more I’ve worked with successful artists I can tell the the stories are always the same… the ones who “make it” simply work harder than the ones who don’t.
  5. NEVER QUIT.  It has been my experience that 100% of those who never quit became successful.  Measure your success by skill and realize that if you work on your acting every day then starting today you are officially a Working Actor!