John Lennon said that life is what happens to you when you are planning other things. The key to this is to be planning other things, right? If you don’t have a plan or a direction, who knows where you’ll end up? Some people say, “I don’t know where I’m going but I’ll know when I get there.” How? You have to know what you want to “be” able to “see” it.
I have to admit that I am a bit of a self-help junkie. Yes, I have some Tony Robbins Personal Power tapes languishing in my basement somewhere. It’s a guilty pleasure. But I strongly believe in the importance of goals. Setting goals gives us a direction to our lives. It helps you make decisions and it helps you grow.
In January 2009, one of the goals I had was to become a professional playwright. Now, part of goal setting is determining what is an indicator of the goal being reached. You should be able to put something concrete. For my professional playwright goal, I just wanted to be paid for my playwriting. I figured if I got paid at least $100, I would be a professional playwright. To be honest, I would have been happy with $25! (I considered myself a professional short story writer, having sold two stories for $5 and $60, respectively.)
Of course, I had a bit of an ace up my sleeve, because my friends Shari and Mike had approached me to put on my play “Laund-o-Mat At the End of the World” at the Hamilton Fringe Festival. My odds were pretty good that I was going to get paid – not guaranteed, but pretty good. We hadn’t even been accepted into the Fringe, yet.
The funny thing is that having a feeling that I could reach my goal gave me confidence that I don’t usually have. I had finished my second play, “Cast Party”, and submitted it to Black Box Fire’s Emerging Artists Series. It got accepted and suddenly the second play I had written was being performed. I was two for two, because Laund-o-mat had already been performed at The Pearl Company. On the same day, I found out Laund-o-mat was accepted into Hamilton Fringe.
Directing Cast Party was an experience that will probably be the topic of a couple of blogs. It was without a doubt the worst theatrical experience that I have had. So far. However, I survived it and the show was well received. And I got a stipend of just over a hundred bucks. One hundred dollars? I had already met my goal to be a professional writer before the Fringe started!
Laund-o-mat ended up being one of the top shows at the Fringe. It was later selected to be part of the Best of Fringe 2009 at Theatre Aquarius (a professional theatre in Hamilton). And although I ended up make a bit more than $100, as originally envisioned, something more important happened. I qualified to be a full member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada! My play had been performed 22 times.
For me, being a member of the PGC was a real indicator of being “professional”. It didn’t mean that my plays were suddenly being put on at professional theatres or that I had broken out of the one-act play format that I seem stuck in. But it meant that I was serious enough to join the ranks of the big guns.
This was not in the realm of my imagination at the beginning of the year. I just wanted to be a “professional” writer and make a couple of bucks from my writing. It was a goal and mantra that I kept for the year and informed some the actions that I took. In the end, I succeeded far more than I had anticipated.
I got to a better place that I had “seen” at the beginning of the year. And the reason for that? I had a goal.
So, take a moment.
What are your goals?