As I write this post from my mother’s home in Connecticut, listening to Bing Crosby singing Joy to the World, I am reminded of holiday traditions – the warm glow of colonial taper candles in the window, the sweet smell of cookies in the oven, and snow.
Wait! Cue the snow. Hello snow?
It’s 50 degrees outside.
No white Christmas?! No sleigh rides?! No sledding? No ice skating on the pond? Okay, I haven’t actually done any of those things since I was a kid. (Actually, I’ve never been on a sleigh ride, but I’ve seen them in movies.) That’s the image of Christmas we have in our minds, isn’t it?
Life loves to play the ol’ switcheroo on us. You expect one thing but you get another. The same holds true in your business. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, as the saying goes. Awry is one of my favorite words.
Of course we continue to make plans. You have to have plans in order to achieve goals. You just have to hold them loosely. You do the best you can to follow your plans, but you have to accept that things beyond your control may change how you achieve your goals. You adjust to the new scenario, whatever it is. Life zigs, and you zag.
Here’s what I’m doing for 2016
I’m looking back through my entire business activities for 2015, and writing down everything I can remember that “didn’t go right.” Meaning, it didn’t go the way I planned. Were things made worse or better? How did I respond to it? Did it get me down, or did I zag when my plans zigged? To tell you the truth, I did a little of both.
I’m setting my 2016 business goals based on those answers.
My encouragement to you (and me)
- Take the time to reflect back on your voice over business in 2015. Actually take notes.
- Did you have a plan for how many and what kind of projects you would audition?
- Did you audition for all those jobs?
- What threw you for a loop? How did you react?
- What would you do differently?
- Which zigs can you prevent?
- Which zags worked out for you?
I want to encourage you to move forward with your business in 2016 with confidence that you can make positive results, despite the unforeseen turns.
- Set your goals and be ambitious about it. Write them down. I propose a hodge podge of SMART and CLEAR goals. In case you’re not familiar with these acronyms I’m defining them here. The words in bold are the ones I would focus on.
SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound
CLEAR – Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, Refinable
My new acronym is SMAEAR. Instead of calling it “smear” let’s call it “smah-year.” I’m gonna have to work on that. If any of you are good at word jumbles, feel free to offer alternatives!
- Specific: Say you want to increase how many VO jobs you get. Then set a number per year, per month, per week.
- Measurable: If you get specific as to the number of jobs you want or how much income you need to make, those are goals you can measure.
- Attainable: You want to stretch your skills and grow your business, but don’t set yourself up for failure by getting astronomical.
- Emotional: You need to have a positive emotional connection to the goals you set. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you’ll never achieve them.
- Appreciable: This means that if you have a large, high-level goal, be sure you can break it down into smaller goals. Accomplishing each smaller goal moves you toward the completion of your large goal.
- Refinable: This speaks directly to the zig and zag of business. If something suddenly changes, you should be able to adjust your goals to keep moving forward.
- Include the activities you did in 2015 that worked in your favor.
- Be sure to avoid those activities that did not benefit you. Sounds obvious, but sometimes I don’t realize I do the same thing over and over creating an unhappy situation, and then wonder why I’m frustrated. Some assessment should help fix that.
- What is ONE thing you know you need to do to grow your business that you’ve been avoiding? (e.g., improving your online presence such as website or social media, making cold calls, attending networking events, pursuing an agent, etc.) Pick the most important of these (this will depend on who you are and where you are in your business), and write out how you are going to make it happen! Writing it out – making actual step-by-step plans – makes you more likely to accomplish that task.
- And finally, be sure to acknowledge to yourself when you achieve your goals. Every day, think about what you did that moved your business forward, even if tiny steps.
For those who are more visually inclined (which actually is most of us), you may want to create a mood board or vision board. This is where you pull together imagery of the goals you want to achieve and paste them on a poster board. It’s a technique that has been used for years in advertising and branding, web design, interior design, etc. These were done (and still could be done) using an actual poster board and magazine clippings and material swatches.
For a 21st century twist, Pinterest is perfectly set up for vision boards. You set up a board (the lingo is even the same), find images from the Internet and “pin” them to your board. You can add pictures of your favorite voice over artists; recordings of cartoon characters whose voices you love; equipment you ultimately want to have and so on. You can even include videos, colors and textures that just have a feel that you love and relate to.
This board is meant to be exciting and pleasurable, but most importantly, the visual elements will give you a higher probability of achieving your goals. You can make your dream board for your highest level career goals, and a board specifically for 2016. Keep looking at your board. Remember what each item means to you.
If you do both the written goal setting and planning (which I do advise) and the image board, just make sure they are in complete alignment with each other. And remember our new acronym, SMAEAR, as you work on both.
So as 2015 draws to a close and 2016 is fast on its heels, you can feel confident in your business no matter what life throws at you! You have your plan, and if something that’s out of your control gets in the way, you just zag around that zig!