I was really inspired by this article I read recently about Goals vs. Systems on entrepreneur.com and I think it has amazing tie-ins to the musical theatre industry and our lives as actor/singers. The article poses a different approach to achieving success: don’t set goals, but create systems.
So, what’s the difference between a goal and a system? A goal is something that you want to achieve and the system is your plan for getting there.
If you’re a musical theatre actor/singer, your goal might to be book a show in the upcoming audition season. Your system, or strategy as I like to call it, would be the weekly dance class, voice lesson, acting class, and networking event that you attend in order to be ready for said audition season. You get the idea.
That sounds simple enough, but what if you didn’t focus on the goal, but simply focused on the strategy you put into place to get there? Is this a better plan for longevity in your field?
This is an interesting thought to me because I’ve always been a goal oriented person. I’ve always had my 10 year, 5 year, yearly, monthly, and daily goals set for myself. I’ve always liked to mark my progress by whether or not I’m on track to my goals. But as I’m getting older, I’m starting to realize that goals are only good because of the strategies and habits that they put into place.
I find this shockingly true of the musical theatre business. The majority of goals that are set by my peers and students revolve around that mythical creature–booking a job, preferably on Broadway.
The problem with making Broadway, or even booking a summer gig, your goal is that you can’t control whether or not you actually book a job, no matter how big or small the job may be. Everyone knows that you can give the best audition of your life but be too short, or too old, or too young, or too blonde (you get the picture) to book the job. You cannot control whether or not someone will pick you. You can only control what you do in the room.
And let’s say that you achieve your goal and book that Broadway show or summer stock gig you were up for. Do you abandon your voice lessons, acting classes, networking, etc.? Of course not. You are never done with learning and/or maintaining your craft no matter what goals you achieve. And then what happens when the show closes after a few weeks? What do you do next? Well, unless your goal was to book a show and then go to Law School, you go back to or adjust your strategies that you must employ as an actor/singer.
So what if you adjust your focus from your goals to your strategy and what your daily, weekly, and monthly routine looks like as a successful actor/singer? I’m not suggesting that you skip goal setting, but I’m proposing that you use your goals as a guideline for your strategy. Focus on the positive habits and framework for success that is being built by your day to day work. Don’t measure your success on whether or not you book that gig. Measure your success on whether or not you were prepared to walk into that room and give a good audition.
So, what do you think? Is 2014 the year that you stop chasing goals and start chasing systems? Can 2014 be the year of strategy for you in the voice studio, in your acting and dance classes, in your networking, and in your day to day routine? Let’s give it a try together and see how much we can accomplish!
Happy New Year and Happy Singing!
To read the full, original article by James Clear, click here.