Goals vs. Expectations

By now, you’ve probably read a few articles about making and keeping New Year Resolutions (link to tips on that below). My take: goals are good, but high expectations can backfire. Why? Because most results rarely live up to the “dream” of success or happiness we fantasize about.

When I first began writing screenplays, I had visions of hanging out with famous directors and producers, while watching movie stars acting out roles I had created. And yes, I thought about selling those scripts for big bucks. Fifteen years later, I’ve seen parts of my dream come true and come close to having my scripts produced… but each time the project hit roadblocks and died. My high expectations resulted in bouts with depression.

The only thing that has kept me going are two sayings I write on my monthly desk planner, which I use to remind myself what the real goal is. The first bit of borrowed wisdom: Write with no attachment to outcome.

In other words, don’t worry about whether it will sell or not. Trying to alter your vision to accommodate ever-changing trends or fads is only going to make you crazy. But telling a good story is timeless. More importantly, at the very least you will get some satisfaction just by completing the goal you set for yourself. What happens after that depends largely on luck, fate, chance, and more work. Of course, the payoff for hard work is being able to capitalize on the lucky breaks when they come your way.

The second saying on my desk planner is some zen advice: When you cease expecting, you have all things

Think about that for a moment. Isn’t it true that we are most depressed when we become fixated on things we want or hope will happen, as opposed to appreciating what we have right now?

I no longer have high expectations for my screenplays. I’ve done as much as I can to learn the craft, network, market my scripts, and stay informed about the movie business. But my focus has shifted to finding other venues to write in that allow me to share my stories — blogs, newspaper columns, playwriting, and local TV projects. If one of my movie scripts sells I’d be very happy. But it’s not the end-all or be-all for my life. I’m more grateful for the little things and less depressed about the big picture these days.

So here’s my goals for 2010: produce useful, entertaining CareerChangers.TV shows and blog posts… write one new movie screenplay… complete my first non-fiction book (adaptation of existing INUGAMI script)… and finish my stage play about an aspiring terrorist with migraines who seeks medical help from a drug-addicted doctor with a midlife crisis.

So what are your goals? If you want to put it in writing, you can start here by posting a comment. The first step to make things happen is sharing it with others.

Here’s the link to an article about tips on sticking with your New Year’s Resolutions: http://tinyurl.com/yl8k62x

Happy failings!

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One Comment on “Goals vs. Expectations”

  1. richfigel Says:

    Weird! No sooner than I posted this, got a request for my INUGAMI psychological/supernatural thriller script from a producer who had read a horror script (GUINEA PIGS) I sent him awhile ago. Never heard back, so I presumed they didn’t like it…

    Turns out they liked GUINEA PIGS a lot and kept in a file of scripts they were considering making, but for whatever reason they neglected to tell me that. He gave me some feedback, I pitched him another sci-fi script (since that is what they seem to be interested in) and now he’s interested in that one as well.

    And the query for INUGAMI was sent on Dec. 1, over a month ago. But I’m not getting my hopes up too high. I’ve had many script requests that ended in rejection. In fact, just about all of them…

    Okay, now I’m trying not get depressed again.

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