Don’t Just Live Your Life In 2017 – DESIGN IT!

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2017 is nearly upon us, folks – in fact, by the time you read this, you’ll have just a couple of weeks left, until you are waving 2016 goodbye, and coming up with another New Year’s Resolution, that you’re probably going to break by mid-January. Statistically, most people break their New Year’s Resolution by January 17th. The reason behind this is pretty simple. 99% of people DO NOT know how to goal-set properly! If you’ve been saying, “THIS is going to be my year . . .” for the last decade or more – and that year has yet to actually be your year – this blog post is especially for YOU!

I got into strategic goal-setting back in 2014, and was fortunate to be mentored by one of the world’s leading authorities on productivity and high-performance, Michael Hyatt. After working with Michael and setting strategic goals, 2014 became THAT year I’d been saying I was going to have for so many years before that. I began to book more jobs than ever in my acting and voiceover careers, I got into the best shape of my life, I launched two new online businesses, cultivated some incredible personal and professional relationships, and tripled my income – pretty phenomenal all round really.

NOTHING had changed in terms of my talents and drive – I’d simply utilised goal-setting to not only live my life, but to DESIGN it. I now spend five days at the end of each year, repeating my goal-setting process – and life keeps on getting better. In this blog post, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you – to help you design YOUR best year ever in 2017!

It’s All About Taking A.A.C.T.I.O.N!

If there is one word actors wished they could here more often, it’s “action!” But I’m here to tell you that you need to take A.A.C.T.I.O.N., to get action. A.A.C.T.I.O.N. is an acronym that I’d like you to remember when setting your goals. My goal-setting process consists of setting an initial 10 goals for the upcoming year. These goals are in all areas of my life – from career, relationships, and physicality, to family, education, and spirituality. I use the A.A.C.T.I.O.N acronym to make sure I’m setting these goals strategically – in such a specific way, that I’m pretty much guaranteed to hit them.

So what does A.A.C.T.I.O.N stand for? Let’s take a look.

A is for ACTIONABLE

First and foremost, all of your goals need to be Actionable. Put simply, they must start with an action verb, not a to-be verb. Strong action verbs include quit, run, finish, eliminate. You don’t want to be using to-be verbs like am, be, or have.

Bad: “Be more consistent when it come to contacting casting directors.”
Good: “Write to two new casting directors each week.”
Bad: “Be more health conscious.”
Good: “Run for 30 minutes, 4 times per week.”

The difference between the above statements might seem subtle, but it is crucial that you can take direct Action on your goals.

A is for ALIGNED

Your goals must also be Aligned – with the season of your life, your current values, and with each other. We all go through different seasons in our life and career, and we are often in very different seasons across the various areas that make up our lives and careers all at the same time. If you are in the spring of your acting career – a time of new beginnings. That’s a very different season than the summer of your acting career – where things are growing, and your career is exploding. Equally, these are both different times, compared to the autumn of your career – where you might be getting ready to sit back and relax for a while, having reaped the rewards of a busy summer. If things have slowed down too much and have been looking a bit bleak, you may have been living in the winter of your acting career – a time to reflect and get ready for the coming spring. The seasons of your life don’t follow the seasons of the actual year, or your age, and you may be in a different season in one area of your life, compared to another.

Your goals need to reflect these seasons. If you are brand new to the acting industry, your goals might include looking for representation. If you have been in the industry a decade, and have great representation – your goals will look very different. DO NOT COMPARE the season you are in to the season someone else is in! Your goals should also be Aligned with your values – if you value your family or partner above your career – don’t feel the social pressure to compromise that value. Lastly, your goals need to be aligned to one another. For example, you can’t set one goal which will demand 100% of your time and expect to have time to work on all of the others.

C is for CHALLENGING

Quit being overly realistic! As the awesome Will Smith says, “Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity.”

Your goals should be Challenging! This doesn’t mean you should be setting your sights on an Oscar in your first six months as an actor, but the bar should be set high enough to demand your very best efforts. Research suggests that if your goal is not challenging enough, you simply won’t expend the effort to get there. So ironically, the more challenging your goal, the higher the likelihood of you actually achieving it. The bigger the challenge, the more inspired you should feel to reach it.

If you booked three acting jobs this year, is setting the bar at four for 2017 actually high enough? NO! Let’s at least aim to double it! You have to set your goal in your DIS-COMFORT zone! When your goals bring about a sense of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, you know you’re in the right zone – a zone where you are going to GROW!

T is for TIME-BOUND

You must set a specific deadline for each goal. A goal without a deadline is merely an aspiration. When your goals are Time-Bound, the likelihood of your achieving them literally DOUBLES!

Bad: “I want to lose twenty pounds.”
Good: “I will lose twenty pounds by December 31st 2017.”

Make sure your deadlines don’t all fall in the same month. Set some one month, three months, six months, and 12 month goals.

I is for INSPIRING

Your goals must Inspire you! They cannot be boring! If your goals do not inspire you, you’ll lose momentum and get lost in the “messy middle” on your journey to accomplish them. Make your goals personally compelling to you! Ask yourself, “Is this a goal I can really get excited about?”

“Am I passionate about this goal?”

“Does this goal engage my heart?”

“Am I willing to work hard to make it happen?”

O is for OBJECTIVE

Your goals must have an internal, Objective criteria, so that YOU KNOW you have hit that goal. In other words, your goals must be measurable.

Bad: “Earn more this year than last.”
Good: “Earn £10,000 more this year than last.”

When your goals are objective, you can easily track them, and see if you are on course to hitting them.

N is for NARROW

Your goals must be Narrow and specific! Your goals require real detail and cannot be bland, generic statements.

Bad: “Become a better actor.”
Good: “Complete the Bulletproof Actor program.”

When writing out your goals, make sure they adhere to this A.A.C.T.I.O.N acronym.

Your PUSH Goal

Once you’ve set your goals, I’d like you to look for what’s known as your Push Goal – the one goal, that if done first, would make all the others easier. Your Push Goal acts like a domino for all the others; which goal will be the catalyst to help you accomplish your entire list or most of it?

Actionable Steps

If your goals are challenging enough, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to achieve them in one or two actionable steps – but don’t let this put you off. You need to break your goals down into as many small, actionable steps as possible. If you can’t see all steps in the journey, don’t panic – you only need to know the next step.

Imagine you are on a pitch black staircase. The stair you are on will light up, just enough for you to see the next, then the next, then the next. The first step to accomplishing your goal, may be something as simple as making a phone call, or sending an email. The trick is to simply start! Figure out that first step and gain some momentum.

The next step will become obvious, don’t worry.

Tracking Goals

I use a great app called Evernote to track my goals. It’s a productivity app, available for your desktop, tablet, or smartphone. You can use any app you like, but make sure you carry your goals around with you, even if it’s in a hand-written journal. You’ll want to make notes on your next actionable steps, alongside other developments on your journey. The more frequently you check-in with yourself and your goals, the more chance you have of hitting them. Most people only check-in with themselves once a year – usually on New Year’s Eve.

They fail. Simple.

If you check in once a month, you have 12 times more chance of success. Once a week – 52 times more chance of success. Once a day – 365 times more chance of success.

Start Designing YOUR 2017 RIGHT NOW!

I could write an entire book on goal-setting, and no doubt will in 2017, but until then, this information should be enough for you to start designing your best year ever. Go for a walk, listen to some of your favourite music, and get INSPIRED. Think of what you would really like 2017 to look like and then write down 10 goals using the A.A.C.T.I.O.N acronym.These goals should encompass all areas of your life.

Figure out your first actionable step on each – and GO FOR IT!

I’d love to hear about your goals, so do tweet me and let me know what you are looking to achieve. You can tweet @rossagrant, as well as @ActOnThisTV and I’ll make sure I reply to everyone who does!

If you are looking for accountability, to make sure you are kept on track in 2017, come and join the Act On This Facebook group too!


Ross Grant is a professional actor and leading high-performance mindset coach. He’s the creator of Act On This – The TV Actors’ Network – a site which now contains more than 200 HOURS worth of interviews with the greatest minds in the acting industry. He’s also the creator of the acting industry’s ONLY science-backed, positive psychology coaching program – Bulletproof Actor: Unstoppable Confidence – Infinite Success, and publishes weekly features on what it takes for actors to take their mindset and career to the next level and beyond! 

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