Man Plans, God Laughs.

“Well, given the current situation we can’t plan anything anymore!” How often have you heard that these days? We can’t seem to move forward unless we have a set of givens. For the first time ever, we’re experiencing our lives with no certainty and no predictability.
 
Or are we?
 
This pandemic has reminded us that life isn’t predictable. Turns out, the only things we ever planned for were the things we were pretty sure about. Now that the important things are coming to the forefront, we see the true nature of life… is unpredictable.
Man planning with markers on wall.
Let’s look at goals and plans. The first is a vision, an aspiration, or a great desire, while the second is a “how to” strategy. Plans, while helpful in some areas (construction, engineering, creating systems), are completely useless when it comes to a vision. Once we know where we want to be or what we want to do/have, we can choose to either be open to infinite possibilities, or we can stick to one, rigid plan. Take notice of how many times something wonderful happened when we barely lifted a finger. When I decided to move to L.A. 22 years ago, I had no plan. When I arrived, I simply followed what was in front of me until I had booked three network TV gigs and a national commercial within my first year. And I had planned nothing.
 
When business started to shut down in March, I noticed how fearful people had become. As time progressed I noticed the urgent attempts to locate “reliable predictions”. People wanted to know what was going to happen and when it was going to happen so they could relax and move on with their lives. But it’s the other way around, really. Fear breeds the need to control. It’s opposite is surrender. When we relax into our world instead of trying to control it, only then can we move on with our lives. We can choose to plan every moment of our lives, or we can surrender to every moment in order to live.

2019 – The End of a Decade, 2020 – The Beginning of … ?

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As Creatives, we often feel the pressure of having to prove what we’ve accomplished, especially at holiday gatherings. Consider this alternative:

Instead of listing what we’ve done
(or going down that rabbit hole of what we’ve
not done), let’s reflect on what we’ve
experienced.

It is our life experiences, not our accomplishments, that make us who we are. Think about that.
Think about all the cool stuff you experienced last year – in the last decade – that has brought real impact to your life and is responsible for the awesome person you are. Look at your favorite photos. The best ones reflect experiences, not activities.

Grabbing a prize from a cereal box – one that I could play with – made me so happy.

When we look at what we want to achieve in the next decade, we can choose to either be in a state of anticipatory delight or in a state of aggressive control. Our daily routines can either be filled with aliveness or crammed with forced discipline.

Every day, I am delighted to discover new, unplanned opportunities: auditions, table reads, theatre productions, showcases, interviews, etc. Actually booking a job is just the icing on the cake!

Let’s create 2020 Goals that make us giggle at the possibilities, ones that are free of promises to “do better”. When we play with setting career goals – I’m talking full-on play – we always end up having fun.

Why?

Let me share three questions that have kept me on track while keeping my eye on the prize. They have supported such goals as a 500 mile bicycle adventure, my move across country, and myValedictorian return to college at the age of 40 (just to name a few).

1. I ask myself, “Why?”

Sometimes we take on goals because we think we “should”. I should get in shape. I should go back to school. I should read more. Acting on these thoughts is usually a knee-jerk response to comparison to others. Unfortunately, there tends to be little follow-through, because we resent tasks that aren’t personal. (Were you ever forced to take music lessons? Join a sports team?) In order to succeed at any one thing, we must first ask ourselves why we want it. If our answer is dependent on the approval of others, then it’s time to reevaluate. And if we continue to ask “Why?” during the process of achieving it, our answer becomes clearer and clearer. So when taking on any new task/goal, life change, or career change, first ask, “Why do I want _____?”

2. Where do I spend my time?

The easiest way to see what we value is to review how much time (and money) we spend in certain areas. We may have made a goal to write a book, but upon examination we might discover that the time we actually spend on it is far less than the time we spend on say, working out. Maybe it’s just time to focus on getting in shape? And then ask ourselves “why” we want to get into shape. There is no “wrong” here, just clarity.

3. Is this still fun?

Nowadays, a person will change their career/job 7 times during their lifetime. But when is the right time to change? The question I always ask myself is, “Is this still fun?” As an actor, I almost always answer, yes. But when it doesn’t feel like fun, I go back to question #1 and ask myself “Why do I want (to act)?” My answer revitalizes me and usually has me exploring new options and honing my skills for the pure joy of it.

What questions help you along the way to your goals?