Actors Setting Goals – Producing Peak Performance

Actors new to the industry seldom seek advice about how to be more effective as performers. Their goals are misplaced and detached from what is actually relevant to their vocation, that of being competent and professional performers. Instead, they become obsessed with the business side of the profession, how to get an agent, getting into the union, and obtaining job interviews. In addition, fantasy aspirations take them away from the realities of the business.

Foremost is the aspiration to be discovered. What are the odds of that happening? Another fantasy is that everything will fall into place in a serendipitous way if I just hang in there long enough. Such people fail to realize that professional actors are hired and paid modest sums because they are good at their jobs. It is not because they have an agent or an attractive promotional package. It is because they can deliver a solid professional performance, and do so repeatedly.

So often, actors get caught up in the minutia of the industry and instead of being specific about their goals, they become fodder for an archaic training system that eats up both their hopes and savings. They busy themselves with workshops, photo sessions, and seeking representation. They wallow in muck of tittering ambition and hopeful mediocrity. Few of their efforts are directed toward becoming skilled and consummate actors. Indecisive, they follow the herd rather than seeking a pragmatic path toward a professional career.

By planning goals, we activate cognitive knowledge and strategies that help us move forward. We see what is relevant and what is not. We also see what is most important and see ways to prioritize our plan. Likewise, goals energize us and encourage greater effort. It empowers our persistence and perseverance to stick with our objectives.

Setting goals that lead to peak performances requires some careful thought and planning. There are many things to consider. One obstacle that gets in the way is our inability to see the interconnecting steps required for reaching a goal. We see the starting line and the destination, but little of what lies in between. Thus, any goal-setting plan should address much more than the final objective. It must address the obstacles, the helpful resources, the stepping-stones and the self-imposed deadlines.

Another obstacle is pursuing ego-based goals. Such self-centered goals are usually result driven and distract from the task, that of becoming an accomplished performer. The egocentric actor looks for praise and validation rather than dwelling on the process of becoming a better actor. Task-involved actors are interested in the process for its own qualities while ego-oriented actors perform the task to attract praise or confirm a self-concept (e.g. clever, funny, talented etc… ). Task-involved actors are less threatened by failure because their own ego is not tied up in the success of the task. Ego-involved actors tend to become anxious or discouraged in the face of failure, because such failure challenges their self-image. While we all have our egos to contend with, the desire for praise must be weighed with the worthier goal, to develop competence, a competence that supports such things as the story, the director’s vision, and the collaborative efforts of cast and crew.

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