Career Coach: Tips to Thrive in 2005

Scott Shaw! writes about Fat Alberts return to animation within his first venture into live-action.

A new year brings opportunity for a fresh start. Many people make New Years resolutions but as soon as they fail to keep them, they give up. Setting specific goals instead of resolutions will help you stay focused throughout the year.

Why is making goals important? Ill confess, last year I didnt write down my goals. I felt disorganized, unfocussed and a little irritated at myself. I didnt accomplish much, although I always seemed to be busy.

Real accomplishment requires making goals and planning. Theres a cartoon picturing a guy standing on top of a high mountain and the caption reads I was just wandering around aimlessly and found myself on top of Mount Everest. This is funny because we know that something like that takes lots of hard work and you dont reach the top of Mount Everest by wandering around aimlessly. Goals give you aim and direction.

A salesman I know sets goals every year for how much he was going to make and every year he made his goal. One year he decided since he always made his goal, there wasnt much point in writing his goal down, so he didnt. The year when he didnt write down his goal was the worst year that salesman ever had. Goals give you motivation.

Heres how goal setting can work for you:

Put your goals in writing. Goals should be specific. Example: I want to work in television. (Too vague.) I want to be an animator on The Simpsons. (Specific.)

Make a plan on how to accomplish your goal. To accomplish any goal, you must know what you want to do and how you are going to do it. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds by July, what are you going to do to accomplish that? Are you going to sign up at a gym, get a personal trainer, take some exercise classes, walk for an hour every day, drink less soda, skip desserts?

Break down a big project into smaller steps. For example, if you wanted to make an animated short film, your steps might be write a script, decide what media works best for the story, design the characters, find some people to help with animation, etc.

Focus your efforts to reach your goals by making a daily to do list and rank the items in terms of whats most important -- A, B, or C. Do the A items and forget about the Bs and Cs. Are the things in your A list, which you are getting done, helping you toward one of your goals?

Post your goals where you can see them every day. Review your goals at least once a week to make sure you stay on track and to keep your priorities current. Whats important to you in January might not be important in February or March. If you accomplish a goal in February, check it off -- itll inspire you and show your progress.

Get the tools or help you need to accomplish your goal. To build your portfolio, get the art supplies you need. To organize your studio or office, get the equipment you need. To begin a business, get the professional advice and funding you need.

Dont set an unrealistic deadline for success. Keep the long-term view and dont compare yourself to others. Perhaps you and a friend have both decided to build a personal website and he has already reached his goal and you have done nothing but answer email and play videogames on your computer. Dont despair! Ask your friend how he accomplished the goal and determine if there is anything he did that you could implement in your plan that will help you towards the goal. But dont give up on your goal if its important to you.

Dont let setbacks set you back. Focus on success and dont obsess about mistakes. If you have set a goal of reading one book a month and May rolls around and you have only read this column, dont beat yourself up about missing your goal -- just start reading books in May.

Use the power of your imagination in a positive way to visualize yourself successfully reaching your goals. Avoid constructing negative what if scenarios that may not happen.

Keep at it. You learned to walk by being persistent, getting up every time you fell down and trying to walk again. Recapture the persistence you had as a toddler.

Dont get distracted. Remember Aesops story of the race between the tortoise and the hare? The hare raced ahead, taunting the tortoise and, thinking he had the best of him, stopped before crossing the finish line (not meeting the goal) and was distracted (took a nap). The tortoise, keeping the goal in mind (finishing the race), kept plodding along in small steps until he reached the finish line. Be like the tortoise; just keep going toward your goal no matter what. Consistent follow-through will lead to success.

Be creative with how you can meet your goals. Sometimes youll be able to accomplish several goals at once and sometimes youll have to make a hard choice. Lets say your goals are to spend more time with your family, do life drawing and attend three industry-related networking meetings a month. In the case of spending time with your child and life drawing, you might go to the zoo and work on two of your goals at once while you teach your child how to draw the animals. And you can do life drawing at the networking meetings too.

Now, if youll excuse me, I have to get motivated and write up my goals for 2005.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson will be moderating a panel called BYOB: Be Your Own Boss on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2005, for the Los Angeles ACM SIGGRAPH chapter meeting. Learn about legal issues, business plans, marketing, publicity and branding, recruiting and how to survive and thrive at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in the Barnsdall Art Park at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. Social hour begins at 6:30. The program starts at 7:30.

Thompson will also be speaking on goal setting at the Los Angeles Women in Animation chapter meeting on January 27 at Klasky Csupo in Hollywood.

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