Well hello there, my friends. Happy 2015 to you. I hope your year is off to a shimmery, hopeful start. And I hope you’ve been having as much fun hoverboarding as I have.
In the past five years, Katie and I have moved away from making new year’s resolutions, opting instead to write down our intentions for the year. We’ve both found it to be way more motivating and satisfying and focusing. These intentions should be things you’re hoping to accomplish for the year, and you should say them as if you are predicting the future, as if these things are already foretold. Because future-predicting is way more powerful, not to mention way more fun, than goal-setting.
For example, here was my first intention on last year’s list:
I will write a solid first draft of my second book by May 1, 2014.
I actually didn’t finish until the beginning of August. I often misfire on the timing of my intentions. But it doesn’t matter! Because the important part is getting the shit done! (Unless you have deadlines to meet that are set by people who are not you. In which case you should do as I did above, giving yourself a deadline that is way before the deadline that is set by the person who is not you.)
Here is another one of my intentions from last year:
Ray and I will continue with our podcast, and we will make a much more focused effort to promote and get it out there, potentially joining the Stitcher network. We will be featured on Pop Candy, Vulture, and various other high-trafficked blogs.
This one only partially came true; Ray and I did continue with our podcast (The Lance and Ray Show check it out), having a genuinely good time and learning more about what the show could/should be in the process, but we totally dropped the ball on the promotion part. Life gets busy; new things pop up that you never could have predicted at the beginning of the year, and you don’t have time for everything. And also, Pop Candy doesn’t even exist anymore.
So that intention is going to carry over in some form to my list this year. (Katie and I are going to write our lists TONIGHT. I know; we’ve already started 2015 off with procrastination. But in our defense, we spent the past two nights building a big-ass Ikea dresser. And that felt good.) On my 2014 list, I’d say about 60% of my intentions for the year actually played out the way I had foretold. But that’s pretty damn good. I made predictions on my future and got three-fifths of them right!
I should mention that it’s helpful if some of your intentions are things you’re pretty certain will come true. Things like, “I will run three times a week, and it will feel great.” “I will focus more attention on my friendships with Bob and Tito, aiming to hang out with them at least a couple times a month.”
Hopefully, you’re noticing that all these intentions, especially the one about the podcast, are pretty specific.
This is important.
I will make a lot of good art this year is an example of an unhelpful intention. What kind of art? How many projects do you mean by a lot? When will you finish each of them by?
Specificity in goal-making is something I’ve always struggled with. Because it takes bravery. And confidence. And brazen ambition. The more specific you are, the more it feels like you’re A. full of yourself and B. destined to fail.
But you need to make big, epic, specific goals for yourself. Because if you can’t dream big for yourself, no one else will be able to either.
When I was pursuing an acting career, I prided myself in my realistic stance on the whole thing. I would go to an audition, and afterward I wanted the world to know that I knew that my odds of getting the part were unlikely.
“You never know with these things,” I would say.
“I’m sure they saw at least fifty other dudes for this part.”
“Yeah, I mean, I felt good about it, but it’s such a crapshoot, so we’ll see.”
This is a horrible way to go after your dreams. All of those things I said on a loop were true, but it was completely unhelpful for me to pay attention to them.
The mind is a powerful thing; the thoughts you have can dictate reality. I truly believe this. So if your thoughts are that you’re in an impossible business and you’ll never succeed, that will likely become your reality.
(I could—and probably will—write five to ten more blog entries about my complicated psychological relationship with the acting business and with auditioning and how I was always my own worst enemy, so look forward to THAT.)
The people who succeed in any given field are the people who believe deep-down that they belong there, that they can do it. They don’t listen to the noise all around them saying that it’s unlikely to happen; they listen to the voice in their head that says it will happen.
I’m not suggesting you push to the opposite end of the spectrum and become an arrogant jerk. I’m just saying there is a fine line between being modest and undercutting your own dreams.
I already know that the list I write tonight is going to shoot the moon, with future predictions for the year that include lucrative movie options for my books and an appearance on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I feel kind of uncomfortable even telling you that because usually no one knows what’s on my lists except me and my wife; intentions are a really vulnerable thing, especially when you’re aiming high. But they’re also a vital thing because I need to start believing these things for myself first.
And then, when they actually happen, people can say, “I can’t believe that!” But I won’t be surprised. Because I’ve already been believing it.
Do you think I sound like an asshole?
Me five years ago definitely would. But I encourage you to sit down and be an asshole with me. Write some grand, highly specific intentions for your year. Let your brain know that big things are going to happen in 2015.