If you're like most people, the beginning of a new year is a time for setting goals, and looking toward the future. If you're in the entertainment industry, setting goals isn't enough to get you where you want to go. you need an action plan. Here are some suggestions on how you can take your career or business in entertainment to new heights in 2013.
1. Take Stock.
It may sound cliche, but it's true. It's difficult to know where you're going without first knowing where you've been. Start the year off with a brief review of your current situation. You may find it useful to think of this stock-taking as a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
At first, resist the urge to look at the things you don't have or want to improve. Focusing on those things will only bring you down. Take a personal Strengths inventory, in which you examine all the great things in your life, career and business. What are you already doing well? What aspects of things seem to be on track? How have those things come to pass? What can you learn from that?
Then, only after you've got the good stuff inventoried, take a BRIEF look at the Weaknesses. These are the areas that need improvement. I promise, if you do the positive stuff first, the *less positive* will be easier to address.
Next, consider the Opportunities that you have in front of you. It's OK if there are only a few of these. It's what you make of them that matters.
Finally, look at the Threats to your success. These may be both external and internal. For example, I know that if I want to move my business forward, I need to cut down on my TV consumption. The time I spend in front of the big-screen is a threat to my forward momentum. By identifying and examining the threats, we're more able to address them with a mindful approach to our activities.
2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
First off, don't set too many goals. Three to Five goals at a time is about all the human mind can manage. The good news is that as you achieve these, you can set a few more. Who says you have to wait till January?
S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. To succeed at attaining your goals, they really should have all of these characteristics. Although they speak for themselves, you can read more about SMART goal setting here. Briefly, let me emphasize the importance of a time component. Setting a goal to “get my film financed someday” is far less effective than “raise the $2.5 Million Dollars needed to fund the budget of my film project from private investors before June 30, 2013, so I can start principal photography by Fall.”
Write your goals down. Build systems to remind you about them, post them above your desk, on your bathroom mirror, or set up ticklers that prod you to periodically review your goals.
3. Pull together your plan.
Once you've got your goals set, it's time to plan your approach to acheiving them. Break the goals down into the intermediate steps you'll need to take, and put them on the calendar. Be sure to leave enough time for each step that you don't wind up deferring things. (it might help to specify the time frame or deadline for each task)
For example, If the goal is to raise $2.5 Million bucks by June 30 from private investors, here are some of the steps you'll need to accomplish:
- Research the rules and regulations that impact investor financing (1 week)
- Prepare the business plan for the project (3 weeks)
- Package the project with as many “bankable” (or at least marketable) elements as possible. (ongoing)
- Identify your “likely suspects” for investment, and make sure you've got good contact information for them. (1-2 weeks)
- Make early contact with them without asking for anything. This is where you build rapport, trust and affinity. (ongoing)
- Retain a lawyer to form the financing entity and prepare the financing paperwork (a few days to interview entertainment attorneys)
- Develop your “pitch”. How will you approach, discuss and close-the-deal with the investors? ( 1 week)
- Approach your “likely suspects”, and ask them for referrals to others who might invest (ongoing, but try to hit up 3 per week, for example)
- Stay in Touch (schedule out your follow-ups. Do this religiously.)
4. Keep it Simple Superstar!
Don't overcomplicate your plan. The more complex a plan becomes, the less likely you are to actually implement it The above list may seem rather detailed, but each task on the list is itself relatively simple. Ideally, for each goal you set, you should have one or two simple tasks to do each day or week. Make them do-able, and commit to doing them.
5. Be positive.
Now this one may sound a little bit “woo-woo” for you, but give it a try anyway. Focus on the success you intend to acheive. Keeping a positive mental attitude and visualizing the results of achieving goals is a powerful way to accomplish things. If you dwell on the negatives, the things you don't have, the obstacles, the fears and worries, you'll only attract more of the same. Likewise, if you direct the full power of your intentionality to the things you desire, and visualize them as if they already exist, they soon will!
I find it very powerful to practice intentional gratitude. By this I mean that I keep a journal of the things I'm most grateful for each day. Some days it's easier than others to identify something to feel grateful for, but the exercise is worthwhile. It's really amazing how expressing gratitude can help you feel it, and stimulate more positivist about everything.
If you adopt the practices I've outlined above, you are far more likely to look back on 2013 as the year you accomplished more than ever before. So, get started. What have you got to lose?