If you are anything like me, you’ve probably given thought to developing New Year’s Resolutions for theater. Looking back, I think we can all agree that 2011 was a tumultuous year. Economically, politically and weather-wise, our world is changing. How we respond to those changes will determine what our experiences will be in 2012.
Creating realistic New Years Resolutions confounds most people. I admit, I’m no expert. I tend to create goals on the fly. It enables me to stay in the moment throughout the year. But I’m sorely tempted take part in the “clean break” that is part of the New Year ritual.
Experts will tell you that resolutions, or goals, should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. These qualities spell out the word SMART. By setting SMART goals, you are more likely to achieve success.
For example, rather than resolving to become a better actor, set a goal of taking 4 acting classes in 2012. This resolution has fulfills all of the SMART qualifications. It is specific enough for you to know what you are planning to do. You can measure your success throughout the year. It is attainable, provided you have access to acting classes in our community. You might have to juggle your schedule and priorities for it to be realistic. It also has a timeframe or deadline.
Creating a resolution of getting a specific producer or company to produce your play is not a SMART Goal. Your success should rest on your actions, not the reactions of others. Instead, make a goal that you will send your work out to 20 companies or producers a month. This resolution puts power in your hands.
Personal and Community Benefits
This year, I’m considering how my resolutions or goals will also benefit my family, community or society. Many times, people create resolutions for their personal benefit. For example, you may want to lose weight so you can look fabulous. Have you considered that becoming healthier will positively impact your family and friends?
How does your work in theater affect your family, community or society? Theater folks often get slammed for being narcissists and elitists. How often has your work solely been about self-expression? Here’s the challenge: Link your work to your audience. Focus on what you are giving, rather than what you are receiving. Why send your work out to 20 theaters if the result will only benefit you?
When I quit theater in 2007, I went to work for a newspaper. We focused constantly on our mission: informing the community. My co-workers pursued that goal with a fervor you only see in nonprofits. Coming back to theater, I wanted to bring the spirit of that selflessness. Whenever I write a play or story, I know now why I’m doing it. I can tell you what I hope to achieve. In the past, I would tell you that I’d like the play to win awards or get produced at prestigious institutions. But those results are now byproducts of my goals and intentions. I don’t focus on results that are not within my control.
This concept goes against everything I ever learned in theater. It also goes against the career advice people have given me throughout the years. But theater is now a more fulfilling experience. Whether I get important productions or not, I know the theater I make will have meaning.
A 2012 Perspective
I’ve deliberately withheld my own New Year’s Resolutions because I think 2012 will demand us all to look beyond ourselves. It is no longer enough to elbow each other out of the way in the name of self-promotion. Becoming a superlative in theater or elsewhere is a hollow achievement if it was only about you.
As I set my New Year’s Resolutions for theater, I am looking to strike a balance between improving myself and benefiting others. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive. I’m sure there are going to be opportunities to do both in 2012.