How to plan and achieve your goals, no matter what time of the year you’re setting them.
As the New Year comes in, many of us will be adopting the age old ‘New Year, New Me’ mindset. For actors, this means overhauling career prospects and aspirations, and levelling up with work by getting organised. January brings the ’out with the old and in with the new’ vibe, but many of us get stuck mid–year and need a fresh start.
Here’s how you can maintain that ‘New Year’ mindset all year, setting and achieving new goals whenever you want, at your own pace and pressure free.
Why Do We Set New Year’s Resolutions?
For most people, a new year brings prospects, opportunities, and a chance to start over. Most people set a New Year’s resolution based on how they feel they ended the previous year. Sometimes disappointment can lead you to make a resolution at the start of a new year because you’re motivated to make a change.
We set New Year’s resolutions with the hope and intention that we can control the outcome of the year ahead. Still, it’s common for most people to break resolutions as early as February or March – or even January!
This can be due to several factors, like setting unrealistic goals or losing your motivation as the year begins to unfold. However, failing to keep resolutions doesn’t mean you have to wait a whole year to make new ones. You can have a fresh start at any point during the year.
How to Start a New Year’s Resolution
Whether you want to use January to mark your new beginning or set a goal in the middle of the year, the best way to begin is by planning what you want to change and why.
Are you feeling stuck and unsatisfied in your career?
Can you identify why and what you’re contributing to making you feel unhappy?
The fear of letting our unhealthy habits go is often what’s holding us back from achieving our goals.
Evaluate how the last year went for you by asking:
- What are you grateful for?
- What were the leading causes of the negative events that happened?
- How much of this was within your control?
- Can you change your perspective moving forward?
It is essential to not put too much pressure on yourself when thinking about your resolutions. Goal completion doesn’t equate to happiness. By setting unrealistic resolutions you don’t have the power to influence, you may unintentionally put yourself under pressure to see immediate results.
How to Stick to Your New Year’s Goal
Begin by writing a list of at least five goals or resolutions for your New Year. Be as specific as you can and try not to include a time frame. Once you’ve written your list, make another list with smaller tasks you can do to help you reach those resolutions.
By breaking these initial goals down into smaller, more manageable tasks, you’re less likely to become overwhelmed by your aspirations and abandon them. As the year unfolds, things may not go to plan, so focus on small things you can do to help keep the big picture in mind.
For example, if a professional goal you have is to sign with an agent, break down the goal into the following steps:
- Book new headshots
- Update my showreel
- Update my Spotlight profile
- Write a cover letter
- Research agents looking for new clients
- Create a database of contacts
Resolutions don’t have to result in immediate progress. They can be small and specific – like writing a cover letter – or they can seem like unattainable dreams, like booking your dream role. Whatever your aspirations are, setting new habits that help with the year ahead is the best way to set yourself up for a positive outcome.
These smaller tasks will work across your other goals too. For example, if you update your Spotlight profile to entice agents, this task also helps complete another resolution like getting a specific casting director’s attention.
Adapt Your Perspective
The practicality of writing lists and using tools to help you with your resolutions is half the battle. Keeping your focus is the other half and it’s not as straightforward as just ‘thinking positive’.
Many actors feel fear and anxiety around the pressure to succeed in the new year. If your year hasn’t gone to plan or you’re feeling disappointed in any area of your life, it’s not easy to pick yourself up and start over. It’s about training your mind to stay focused on the possibility of change by being adaptable.
Where you feel frustrated today may change within the next year – or even within a few months. Once you begin taking the steps, you can reassess at any point and start over with a New Year mindset.
Adapt your perspective by adding new goals as you go; this way, you can invite abundance within your career. Reassess whether you are making any progress: the more you strive for, the more you have to gain and you can see how your efforts reflect on you.
The most important thing to do when applying these tools is to ensure they work for you. Understanding that you are in control of how to manage your time and efforts is a huge part of being adaptable. The goals and resolutions you set at any point in time may not serve you as the year progresses and it’s always possible to go back to the drawing board and start over.
The New Yyear mindset is one full of possibilities, but these possibilities can come to fruition at any time. Remember, all you can do is your best.
Karen Johal is most notably known for playing Nicole Shelley in the award-winning Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso, starring opposite Jason Sudeikis, Brett Goldstein and Nick Mohammed. She currently stars in the BBC television series Phoenix Rise as Noreen Khan, starring opposite Paul Nicholls, Zita Sattar and Tyler Fayose. Karen’s film credits include: The Waves for MTV Entertainment directed by BAFTA award winner Sindha Agha; Frank’s Plan for Amazon Prime; and The High Performer for the award-winning digital creative We Are Tilt. She also starred in a global campaign for instant messaging platform WhatsApp with Broadcaster Alex Scott MBE and in a national Christmas commercial for retailer TK Maxx.
In Theatre, Karen recently played the lead role in Ayad Akhtar’s The Who and the What at The English Theatre of Hamburg in Germany and has starred opposite Scottish actor Alan Cumming in the original musical Me and the Girls. She played the lead role in the regional premieres of David Harrower’s Blackbird and Duncan Macmillan’s People, Places and Things. Karen was also directed by Iqbal Khan in Mismatch, performing as part of the Sky Comedy Rep Festival at The Birmingham Rep Theatre in 2022.
Karen is a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan, New York where she performed on stage for The Public Theater at Shakespeare in the Park and at the world famous Carnegie Hall.
Headshot credit: Andy Brown