You made it! Another year down as an actor, with another year stretching out in front of you. It might not sound like much to celebrate, but the nature of our business makes it decidedly so: every day’s a battle, so well done for making it this far. Question is, however, what’s next? What does the new year look like for you? How will you make it the best year yet of your whole acting life? Don’t worry, we’re going to talk about goals to set an actor in the new year.
In this article, we’re going to examine some goals you can set for yourself as an actor in 2023. To do this, we’ll start by looking back at the year that’s passed and what we can learn from our experiences. After that, it’s a matter of setting goals we can achieve through a positive attitude and some hard work.
One of the most harmful thoughts that can cross an actor’s mind is that their destiny is not in their own control. And yes, to some degree, this is true: you can’t control which parts you’re cast in, or even which opportunities come your way. But you might be surprised to learn you have more control than you think. And a quick check-in with yourself and the goals you set yourself can go a long way when it comes to all things career.
Imagine you’re doing some script analysis on a new scene: you’ve found your character, you’ve examined their dialogue and actions. You’re starting to think about how you might play it (as in how you might play it and make it your own.) What’s next? Your objective. What does your character want? What are they fighting for? And what will they do to get it? Your character’s objective is clear and achievable. It might be lofty, but there’s a pathway there.
The same should be said for your goals. Goals are things you can set out to achieve based on planning and strategy. No matter how big they are, you have an idea in mind of how you hope to achieve them. Note the way that “goals” are different—if only in mindset—from “dreams”. Dreams are off-in-the-clouds, wafting around to flutter down to you should you be so lucky. Goals are out ahead of you. Fight your way there and they’re yours.
Goals To Set as an Actor in the New Year
So before we get into our list, think about what goals best suit you. You really can’t go wrong following our advice, below, but there’s no point striving for something that doesn’t reflect where you, personally, are headed. Dig deep, give it some thought and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Let’s get into it!
#1 Look Back on the Previous Year
How was 2022? What did you love, what did you hate? Most importantly, what did you learn? Take some time to reflect on the year that’s passed: write down any lessons you can take from it, and let these lessons inform your choices for the year to come. These can be lessons about career, about time management, juggling careers and acting and hustles in between. But you can also be focus directly on your acting craft: the jobs you went for, the jobs you wanted but didn’t get, how you performed in the gigs you booked or the work you put down on tape.
Be critical, be honest. You don’t do yourself any favours by sugar-coating your exploits for the previous year (and if you do, you’re likely to learn nothing.) However, make sure you look for the positive as well as the negative. Think about the things you did this year that worked out particularly well, and learn from those wins as much as you might from mistakes. Can you do the same or better next year?
#2 Plug Holes in your Skill Set
Set specific goals for yourself around areas of the acting craft you’d like to improve. Learning lines, performing vocal warm-ups, audition prep, accent work, networking with other actors… There are countless areas in which you can put some time and effort to keep your skills sharp.
Whatever you end up focusing on, think about the way that you’re going to improve it. Some skills, such as script analysis or confidence, can be worked on through various means and opportunities. Compare this to nailing auditions, and, well, you can really only work on that in the room with a casting director. This is no reason to aim small, but be realistic as to how you’ll achieve these kinds of specific goals.
#3 Refresh your Acting Toolkit
How are your headshots looking? How fresh is your showreel, your Showcast? What kind of attention are you paying your social media platforms? Do you have audition material ready to go? If you’re looking for representation, which agents have you researched and approached?
The actor’s toolkit—the collection of supporting materials that helps us get noticed by the right people—should be constantly checked and updated. Often, it’s one of those things that we forget to pay attention to, what with life and career getting in the way. A new year is a great time to give it some love, even if you focus on one aspect. You want to put down a new scene for your showreel? Write that down and work to achieving it. Speaking of…
#4 Work on Something
Work on a script! A scene! A monologue! Even a really dramatic limerick! Set yourself the goal of pulling apart a particular piece of writing and getting to know it very very well. Challenge yourself to become the expert in that piece. It may become an audition piece, or even something for your showreel!
As with developing particular skills, it can help to be specific when choosing material to work on as an actor. For example: try focusing on Shakespeare. What if 2023 is the year when you finally feel comfortable with his words, his plays and how best to perform them?
#5 Support your Creative Community
Let’s give you a break from acting, for a minute. This goal is all about nurturing the fellow artists in your life and giving back to the people who usually support you the most. Does somebody have a show you can watch or go and see? Can you think of a fellow actor who might appreciate running lines and doing some scene work? How’s about a request for a reading partner (we see it a lot here at StageMilk’s Scene Club (more on that later.)) If you’re feeling particularly generous, you might even read somebody’s screenplay.
The holiday season can be tough for actors; you tend to spend a lot of time with your family, who invariably love you … but might not understand your career choice. Hey, maybe you’re lucky, and your family ring you constantly to tell you they saw your insurance ad again! But think of the others, those poor souls who get cornered every Christmas lunch and asked “When you’re going to get a real job?”
Supporting your creative community goes beyond acts of service. It’s about saying to other actors that you see them as the thing they’ve chosen to be. It’s about love and respect. And you’re likely to receive it in return from them.
#6 See more Theatre!
This goal is a nice transition back to you, as it’s also a great way to support your creative community. In short: go see actors do their thing on stage! They could be friends of yours, they could be movie stars looking for a passion project. It really doesn’t matter: go track down a high school production of Hamilton and cheer hella loud for the next generation giving it their all!
All actors should see, work and be immersed in theatre. While your aspirations may lie in the Netflix of it all … theatre’s where it began. And if you’re not in that world, let us tell you: theatre belongs to actors. It respects actors. Go bask in that—you deserve it.
#7 Take a Class
One of the best goals you can set as an actor in the new year is to take a class. Take a part-time course, work with a coach, do anything. If you’ve been thinking about auditioning for drama school, then this might be the time to take the plunge! And while you’re probably too late for a 2023 intake, you can start setting goals and timelines for you to be ready as ever for the following year. Good would-be students take ample time to prepare for a drama school audition. Trust us.
Great actors are constantly testing and extending their knowledge. No matter if you studied at one of the top acting schools in the world: if you did three full-time years and, just, stopped … you’ll never be as good as the person who is constantly returning to their craft and looking for ways to improve it and keep their technique sharp.
If you’re unsure of where to begin with taking a class and doing some training, why not try the StageMilk Scene Club! Every month we send out fresh material for you to perform and send to us, and we send personalised feedback by industry professionals. There’s access to online resources, classes, everything a young, scrappy and hungry actor could need.
#8 Find Balance
We imagine your list of acting goals is looking pretty good right now. Well done! Whatever else you write down, make sure you leave room for this final point. Find balance in your life. Find balance between pursuing acting and living well, being healthy and comfy and taking care of yourself. It’s terrifying to think how recent this kind of philosophy is for performers. Used to be a time when the measure of an artist, for an alarming amount of people, was how hard they struggled and starved.
Screw that. Screw being a tortured genius. Live well, develop hobbies and enjoy a rounded life. We guarantee your art will be better for it. The best actors are those who incorporate their craft in their lives because they love it. Those who act and pursue nothing else can find success, but ultimately they burn themselves out. Plus, they’re often a bore to break bread with. Don’t be that guy.
Final Tip: Make Deadlines
How are your goals looking? Got some big ones on there, some small ones? A few that look long-term, plus and a few you can knock over the first week of January? Great! Now it’s time for one last tip from us. Set deadlines for your goals. Not because you’re some terrible taskmaster. Just because you deserve to know when abouts you can expect results.
People think deadlines strangle the joy out of creative pursuits. In actual fact, they do the opposite: they keep you working and accountable, bringing a sense of urgency and importance to your goals and your craft. If you think you’re going to blow one, that’s okay! Just move it and set it to a later date. But give yourself the respect of demanding results within a set time.
That’s it: our guild on goals to set as an actor in the new year. We love a plan and scheme at StageMilk, just as much as we love seeing actors pursuing their craft with gumption and guts. But let us take this one last opportunity to say: be kind to yourself in your journey. Be your biggest motivator, sure. But you’re also your biggest fan.
Good luck, happy holidays and here’s to an awesome new year!