Why Your Resolutions Don’t Work

Ah, a New Year. Like a brand-new car, the New Year is full of the smell of promises and opportunities. Last year’s dirty slate is wiped clean and you’re free to dream about a whole list of things you’ll do better than last year.

…which lasts until about February 15th.

By then the shine is off the New Year and the “real world” has caught back up and strangled any resolutions that managed to live that long.

Working out? I don’t have time.

A cleaner home? I need to make more money and hire a maid.

Resolutions, written excitedly with so much love in January, become dirt in the bottom of the trash bin before the first quarter is over.

But it doesn’t have to end this way.

There is a better method to resolutions. There are some actions you can take right now which will give you the lift necessary to make sure that whatever you dream for yourself and your craft stands a chance of becoming reality.

Here’s the truth:  It’s going to take work.

Let’s let go of “something for nothing” resolutions. It seems that often we think of January as a time to visit a fantasyland of dreams and alternate realities.  You know you’re in this “magical place” if your resolutions include any of these phrases:

Wouldn’t it be nice if I…..

I’d really like have a…..

Sometime I’d love to try to……

Nope. These aren’t going to do it. These are “hopes” and “wishes,” not goals. To make a real goal, we’re going to need to take out our goal success toolkit. I know that you’ve probably heard this in the past. But at the start of 2012 let’s reconnect to the time-tested method called SMART. SMART goals are SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC, and TIMELY.

By adding these to your resolutions today, you’ll stand a better chance of changing your actions and your results in 2012.

The resolutions in the included photo are quite common but also quite vague. Exactly how much weight does this person want to lose? How much money will they save this year? Apply SPECIFIC words to your goal to make them tangible. For example, if you’re an actor, wanting “more roles” in 2012 isn’t going to do it. Instead, define the goal further. Maybe you will focus on “television drama series roles.”  These specific words hone your subconscious mind to focus on the goal. Studies have shown that even when you’re sleeping, if the goal is specific enough, you’ll dream of ways to make your goal a reality.

MEASURABLE goals take the “television drama series roles” to a new level. Be careful what you measure. Sure, it’d be easy to say that “I’ll win five roles on a television drama series,” but do you control that outcome? No. Only measure ACTIONS, not RESULTS. That way, you’ll be able to change your actions to tune the goal when it isn’t working the way you’d hoped. So, what’s a good measurable goal for this example? How about: “I’m going to submit my information to, and stay in regular touch with, the casting directors of these 15 drama series.” (Make a specific list of the shows and their casting directors. Focus on workshops that allow you to meet and show your work to the individuals on your list.)

Setting ACHIEVABLE and REALISTIC goals can be tricky. To quote Michelangelo, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” ACHIEVABLE goals should force you to stretch while still remaining REALISTIC. Look at your daily schedule. Can you find the time for 15 quality submissions every 4-6 weeks? If last year you were already close to this number, can you push yourself, taking it to 20 or even 25? But remember that setting this goal without resources or opportunities sets you up for failure. If you’ve never studied acting and have no experience auditioning, more REALISTIC goals might lie in the area of training, auditioning for a certain number of non-union and/or student project roles and strengthening your resume and submission materials.

A runner friend of mine says that nothing motivates him to put on his shoes and run more than signing up for a race. Without this time limit, there’s always tomorrow to achieve his dreams. By making your goal TIMELY and applying a deadline, now you have to race to achieve it. Is your goal big? Break it down into smaller chunks. If your goal is a particular amount of income for the year, determine the money that you’ll need to earn each month or even each week. Using my example above of 15 regular submissions, you will need to be mailing to 3 or 4 casting directors from your list every single week.

Using these five words: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC, and TIMELY to achieve your goals will not just help your resolutions stick. It’ll help you create a more reasoned approach to your craft, your finances and all areas of your life, by applying metrics to your success.