Setting SMART Goals hero

Setting SMART Goals

Posted Monday, March 2nd 2015 by Grant MacDermott
We all want something in this business. But what you want is different from what your best friend might want, even if it is the very same goal. That is because we all arrive at our goals differently. How we measure and how we pursue goals are unique to us. But no matter how unique your goal, or your approach, there are always five steps you can follow to ensure your goal is tailored to what you want and made more attainable.

We all want something in this business. But what you want is different from what your best friend might want, even if it is the very same goal. That is because we all arrive at our goals differently. How we measure and how we pursue goals are unique to us. But no matter how unique your goal, or your approach, there are always five steps you can follow to ensure your goal is tailored to what you want and made more attainable. It’s called the SMART system. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

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Two common goals I hear about all the time are to “get better” and to “be on Broadway.” Let’s use both of these goals as a framework for making our goals better, making our goals more specific, making our goals SMARTer.

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GoalI Want to Get BetterI Want to Be on Broadway

S – Specific

This is your Who, What, Where, When, Why, & Which.

  • Who is involved?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Where will this take place?
  • When will this be, what is the time frame?
  • Which requirements must you meet?
  • Why do you want this? What are the benefits?

Great! Good for you. But let’s define better. Ask yourself:

  • Who’s involved? You.
  • What specifically do you want?Let’s say you want to build up your confidence and talent to make it to an audition.
  • Where will you do this? New York Monologue Coaching
  • When will this be?I want to have 2 monologues audition ready in four weeks.
  • Which requirements must you meet? Two contrasting monologues for, let’s say, April 27th.
  • Why do you want this? This can be tricky and is where everyone’s answer will be 100% different. A possible answer is “I want to feel confident in my abilities so I can begin to audition.” Or “I want to increase my versatility so I can take a more advanced class.” All answers are good as long as they are specific.

Great! Let’s get specific.

  • Who’s involved? You, but also the specific casting director, producers, and artistic team for THE show you want. You need to do your homework and find what fits your talents.
  • What do you want? Is it a leading role? Do you want to be a swing or understudy? Be as specific as you want even if you know it is a lofty goal.
  • Where will this be? Where are the auditions? Do you know the space? Is it a dead room and you need to use more vocal energy? Is it big or small? Know the details so you can be prepared for any circumstance.
  • When is it? Is there an audition coming up? Are you ready? Better to hold off and be ready than audition when you’re not your best. Always put your best foot forward.
  • Which requirements must you meet? Sides or monologues? Do they want an accent? Does the director tend to like a certain style? What about the writer? Do your research so you can make informed choices about this show.
  • Why do you want this? Yes, it is a job, and a good one. But just wanting a job will not be fulfilling. Even if it is a project you’re right for but not wild about, find an aspect of it that thrills you. That is why you want it. Or you want to challenge yourself working with material and a creative staff that differs from your own method because you want to grow artistically.

M – Measurable

How much? How many? How will I know that my goal has been accomplished?

This is why specifics are important. If we don’t know when our goal is met, we can never feel the satisfaction of reaching that goal.

So, you need two monologues memorized. You gave yourself 4 weeks. Did you do it? Great! Goal achieved. Didn’t do it? That’s okay, give yourself another date and try to meet the goal by that new date.

Or if your goal is that you want to be confident enough simply to go on an audition: Is the goal achieved when you go on your first audition? Perhaps, or maybe part of it is. And your goal can be totally complete when you get a callback. Or is it the role? Whatever it is, define it for yourself but keep it specific, keep it measurable, this is how you will reach your goals so you can build on them and set new ones.

This is easier to know. Either you’re on Broadway, or you’re not. However, setting mini goals along the way can keep you motivated. Did you maintain a personal relationship with the casting director or creative staff? Did you get a callback? Two callbacks or three? Count each step towards your goal as another small achievement.

Or if you are just starting, how many auditions did you go on for a Broadway show? Was your goal one, or five? Make it measurable. You went on five auditions. Goal achieved. Now work on getting a callback the next time. Or work on beginning a professional relationship with the casting director. There is always a goal to be set, and the more you achieve, the more you can and will achieve.

A – Attainable

If your goal is important to you, you will find ways of making it happen. You will develop the skills and attitudes required to reach that goal.

This is where a broad goal like “getting better” can start to be your enemy. The more specific you are, the more attainable your goals will be. You specified getting better as having the ability to audition. Or perhaps you defined it as feeling confidant in your abilities when acting opposite someone you admire.

To get better at auditions you may need a class specifically about auditions. To feel more comfortable in your scenes, maybe a scene study class will help you. Yes, these classes all cost money, but this is part of attainability: how much do you want it? Does this mean you can only take one class every six months? That’s totally fine; set these parameters for yourself, they are there to help you. This is where you see that your goals are worth it.

Broadway may look like it is far away. But not if you follow the first two steps and keep the attainability of the goal in mind.

Maybe you realize your networking skills are lacking. Then take a class with the casting director you want to get to know because he works on the kinds of projects you like. Perhaps networking is a strong suit for you, but maybe auditions are where you get nervous. Take an audition class to learn some helpful tools to help you be calm and shine during your time in the room. If the goal is worth it to you, you will do the work.

R – Realistic

This is where things become concrete. It means you are both willing and able to attain this goal.

Just because a goal may be aspirational does not mean that it is unrealistic. It simply means you may need to work harder.

This is when the real world circumstances come into direct relation with your goals.

Is this goal worthwhile? If your goal is to lose 20 lbs. but in order to do so you have to be unhealthy, then it is not worth it. Same thing goes for the arts. If it becomes a hindrance, you may need to adjust your goal, which is fine. It is probably the best outcome. You don’t want to pursue a goal that doesn’t fit your life. Getting better sometimes means spending money on classes. But if your financial situation doesn’t currently allow for that, you may need to make a financial goal first, or find other ways to attain your goal of “getting better.”

Also know if this is the right time. We all go through ups and downs in life. So if you are in a situation where your attention should be elsewhere, focus there and put this goal on the back burner. You want to put all your focus and energy into your performing goals.

Is this the right time to pursue this goal? Are you financially able to pursue it? Are you the right person for this job? Is this relevant to you? These are all questions you need to ask yourself as you journey to your goal of Broadway (now specific with show/director/creative team, etc.).

If the goal doesn’t seem right after asking yourself these questions, it doesn’t mean it is a bad goal. Look at it as a chance to revitalize the goal and make it more specific to your needs.

Will 8 shows a week be conducive to your lifestyle? If you’re offered a tour, which you’ve always wanted, is this the right time to leave town? If not, reevaluate, or weigh it against what leaving might mean.

Sometimes this portion of the process can feel like a downer but it is vital so you don’t find yourself struggling in the midst of trying to achieve your goal.

T – Timely

Give yourself a time frame in which to complete and attain this goal. Without a time frame there is no urgency and then no motivation to complete it. Give yourself enough time to succeed, but not so much time that you can lose sight of what you wanted in the first place.

T also stands for Tangible. This goal should be able to be experienced. It should be able to be experienced with any of your senses.

You got specific and changed” better” to “audition,” or “get to a level where I can join advanced classes.” You were specific, you measured, it was attainable, and you made it realistic. You worked hard for this goal. But the final part needs to be completed. When will this all happen? By what date? A specific date will give you something to work towards. Something too close and you set yourself up for failure, something too far away and you can lose sight of what you wanted. What is a reasonable amount of time for this specific goal? You want to be audition ready? Let’s give you a month. You want to become an advanced actor? Give yourself one year to the date, but set mini goals along the way to keep yourself on track.

The day you set foot in the audition room, or can recite a monologue purely from memory are ways to look at something fairly intangible, in a tangible way.

You have done all the work. Now you have to know when the work is done. Do you want the contract within a year? What can you do in two weeks to help you meet that goal? Two months? Six months? What about today? This not only always gives you something to do, but it gives you smaller goals to achieve as you pursue this very big goal.

Both your big and small goals should have real tangible results. What are the results? One month is an email from that casting director. By six months you want to have heard the playwright speak and shake her hand and introduce yourself.

At the end of the year you see your name in the Playbill, or on the contract’s dotted line. Physical things let you know the goal is done and gives you a sense of purpose and finality. Let the tangible mark the achievement of your goal.

It can be scary and overwhelming to ask yourself all these questions. Going through these steps and being specific can threaten goals we used to hold near and dear. If our goals change, we change and we don’t always want to change. We want our goals, but we don’t want to have to change to achieve them. It can feel scary to let go of the assurance that you know who you are and what you want. The reason you’re not achieving your goals the way you want is because you’re not setting your goals in a way that make them achievable for you. When you leave the land of generalities and get specific, you will see your wants change. It can be difficult to accept, but take a breath and go with it. You may have thought you always wanted something, but after following these five steps, the goals change, perhaps only a little, perhaps drastically. Either way, it is okay. It’s better than okay, it is fantastic. Achieving this new goal will ultimately be much more fulfilling than your old goals were because this new goal will be exactly what you want; not just a general idea of something you might desire.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Want to discuss your goals? Contact us and set up a meeting and coaching. We love helping performers of all kinds attain the goals they’ve always wanted and then the goals they never knew they could even achieve.

Grant MacDermott

Monologue & Acting Coach

Grant MacDermott is our head acting coach and Co-Director of New York Acting Coaching. Grant has been a professional working actor for most of his life. He began acting professionally at the age of thirteen in commercials and live theater. Grant later moved onto Boston where he received his BFA in Acting and Theater from Emerson College. He then immersed himself in the Boston acting industry by performing in commercials and small roles for movies while continually gracing all the stages in Boston. Grant's experience ranges from shows like Medea with Actor’s Shakespeare Project; Rent with New Repertory Theater; Nicholas Nickleby with The Lyric Stage Company, The Great American Trailer Park Musical with SpeakEasy Stage; and the American premiere of Now or Later at the Huntington Theater alongside Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox and directed by Broadway's Michael Wilson.

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