Setting Writing Goals

More motivational musings from Suzanne Lyons.

1) THE BIG PICTURE: There is something very powerful and freeing about looking at where you are in the future before you start to look at your yearly and monthly goals. It’s the future and there is no past to influence it in any way.  You start afresh with every new project. What contribution have you made to our industry? How would the screenwriting world be different with your absence.

2) 5 YEAR VISION: Look to see where you are in five years. List those accomplishments. You are welcome to include your personal life here as well. What are you most proud of? What are some of the achievements that have happened at the five year point? Given where you are 25 years from now, where are you in five years. Also, take a look at this great question… who would you need to be in five years to fulfill on who you are in 25 years. Be bold here. Really play big.

3) YOUR 1 YEAR GOAL: Still moving back in time create a one year goal for yourself. It may not be something that you know how to do right now, but it is something that is doable. How I always look at it for myself is, “could somebody on this planet do it?” And if the answer is yes than I know that I can as well. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your goal. A goal has a specific measureable result, a single focus, it’s doable, it will be a breakthrough for you and it’s proactive. Also, if your palms aren’t sweating a bit and your heart’s not pounding then you’re playing too small.

4) YOUR TIMELINE: Even a one year goal or six month goal can be pretty daunting if you don’t break it down into doable pieces. When the Romans were building roads they would put a rock in the road after each mile to let them know what they had accomplished and to let them know exactly where they were at any given time. Isn’t that brilliant? Breaking your goal down into a timeline with milestones will give you that same advantage and as far as I can tell it takes the mystery out of success since you know exactly what needs to be done along the way to ensure your goals are accomplished.

5) ACTION PLAN: What specific actions can you take this month, this week, today to fulfill on your milestones. There may be a lot of actions to take between now and your first milestone, but it’s so much easier to know what actions you have to take now that you’ve broken your goal down into a timeline and milestones.

6) VISUAL RELATIONSHIP DISPLAY:  It is so powerful to create a MOR (map of relationships). It reveals a couple of things. When you categorize everyone you know in the industry… directors, writers, actors, producers, composers, etc. it lets you know how many people you actually do know and it also lets you know who is missing from your list. Take a big poster board and give it a try. It is something you want to have around and keep adding to all the time.

7) MAKE REQUESTS: Making requests is the language of business. Ask for advice rather than a job. It is a common daily occurrence in every business around the world. Yet, in the entertainment industry we just don’t do it. We speak in terms of favors when we ask someone to watch our composer reel or read our script. When you ask as a favor it takes the power out of your hands, the ball out of your court. Favors just don’t work in business. So start to practice making requests. “Thanks for agreeing to read my script… Can I call you next Friday afternoon to get your response?” Call everyone on your MOR, get back in touch and make requests.

8) KEEPING TRACK: I know what you’re thinking and I totally agree. I hate statistics too. But what a great wake-up call they are. How many actions are you taking… really taking to reach your goal? Make a list of three to five categories you can track for yourself to make certain that you are taking actions. How many meetings? How many pages have I written? How many referrals? How many phone calls? How many auditions? I use a weekly list for myself and each day I keep track and add up the numbers at the end of the week. Give it a try.

9) GET A MENTOR: You must be sick of me harping on this one. I have mentioned it so many times in my Newsletters, Booklets and YouTube videos and I plan to continue to bug you about it. Getting a mentor is so so so important to our success in this industry. You don’t have to do it alone. There are nearly seven billion people on the planet. That’s a clue! GET A MENTOR! Somebody who’s been there… done that. The important thing to remember is to be respectful of their time. I suggest that participants request three 10 minute conversations. Or one half hour coffee meeting, or perhaps a lunch meeting. Make it easy for people to say yes. Prepare your questions in advance. It’s important that you generate each conversation with your mentor and that you be professional and call when you said you’d call.

10) BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE BY A PARTNER OR TEAM: You’ve all heard the expression “when the going gets tough the tough get going.” Well in our industry it’s no different and it may even be more common. All of us need a partner or team to hold us accountable for our actions. You can have a partner where you call into each other a couple of times a week to report in on your goals, what you’ve accomplished and what still needs to be done to fulfill on your weekly goals. Or you could meet with a team once a week to do something similar. Whatever works best for you is fine… the important thing is to set something up now. I promise you, it works.

BONUS: You never have to worry, “Am I making the right decisions here… am I taking the correct actions?” When you are standing in the ‘big picture’ having set your goals from the future, and then back timing them to the present, all your actions will be perfect! And the best part is… it will be fun!

DOUBLE BONUS: When I was working on this Newsletter over the weekend one of the Daily Abraham-Hicks’ quotes was on Goals. Perfect timing. Here it is: “You think that the goal is to be over there, and we say the goal is the journey over there; the goal is the fun you have along the way on your way over there.”


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