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Dream Career Toolkit: Writing Goals - When Your Inner Kid Shouts, NO!!

Remember the last time you knew you had to do something in order to achieve your goal, but you simply didn't do it? You might recall that inner little kid of yours shouting, "NO!!"

You can hear it in your head right now as you read this, right? And you’re not alone. We all have the inner little kid.

Inner Child

The problem is frustratingly simple. You know what you want. You know what you need to do to get it. You’re just not doing it. And, when you’re reminded of this by your partner, your spouse, your buddy, you’re mad! Say it with me now, “NO!!!”

So how do you prevent this defiant inner child from dominating your life? Read on for some useful tools to calm your inner child.

Agree with the little voice.

Most of the time we spend a lot of energy fighting the little voice. Try agreeing with it and see how it goes. In 12 Step programs this is called counteraction. It’s doing something unexpected. Often this breaks the hold the little voice has over you. It shakes things up. It reminds you that you have a choice. You chose to pursue the goal that demands you do something you don’t want to do. You can un-choose it.

Ask yourself “why?”

Sometimes we can brute force our way through things. We can just decide to do it and then do it. But other times brute force doesn't work. When it doesn't work, it helps to ask “why?” Why don’t you want to do it? If you really aren't getting something done that you know will help you accomplish your goal, there’s going to be a strong reason why you aren't getting it done. Investigate what it is.

For me, there are usually three reasons I’m not getting something done.

1) I’m afraid of rejection, so the action item keeps falling to the bottom of the list.

2) I’m maxed out in terms of my schedule, so the hardest thing to do keeps falling to the bottom of the list.

3) I don’t think it will make any difference. I've given up, but I haven’t admitted it.

Here is one way to handle each of these scenarios:

Rejection: Get accountability to simply get it done. Your fear is winning out over your commitment, so the accountability of a partner to schedule the action item, support you, follow-up with you, makes all the difference.

Schedule: Work with an accountability partner to set a time in the schedule that you can commit to getting the action item done. Write it down. Commit to it. Follow-up afterward.

Giving up: Ask yourself if you want to change your goal. Don’t make yourself wrong for changing your mind. Instead, be proactive. Choose another goal, as opposed to abandoning your current goal. Or, choose this goal again, recommit to it and follow the steps above.

Speak to the commitment, not the upset. When the inner kid shouts “NO!!” the inner kid is upset. Like any good parent, you can’t get upset with your child when your child is upset. You’re the parent. Staying calm in the face of the upset and speaking to the commitment behind the upset is much more effective.

You can speak to the commitment by literally saying out loud your goal. “I’m committed to booking a juicy guest star role in the next three months.” “I’m committed to raising the remaining $300,000 in order to shoot my feature next summer.”

It doesn't have to be elaborate. A simply restatement of your commitment can have a profound effect on your actions. Print out this clear goal and put it up in your workspace so you can see it often.

Create a commitment equation. This will help you get motivated and stay that way. Creating an equation also helps you manage your emotions. You are able to see the situation in black and white, instead of from an emotional point of view.

When I was working in commercial production, I had an equation that kept me motivated. It was 1 hour of calls per day for one week = one new job. Often the job came sooner, but without fail, if I made 1 hour of calls every day for a week, a job would come. The equation made getting those calls done a lot easier.

When I was attaching name actors to a feature project, my equation was: Every 6.7 offers to name actors = 1 new name actor attachment. I have a client who writes letters to casting directors. For every six letters she writes, she gets an audition. For every 5 auditions, she gets a job!

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey talks about there being “no fruits without roots.” Your fruits are the juicy roles, the great jobs, commencing principle photography on your film. The roots are discipline, organization, and taking action in the face of discouragement or lack of evidence that your hard work is bearing fruit.

When your inner little kid shouts “NO!!” it needs a parent to remind it of the future fruits of your hard work now. Here’s what’s cool to remember. You’re the parent.

Shawn Tolleson is a career coach working with screenwriters and other entertainment industry professionals. She gives you the practical tools you need to accomplish your dream career. Check out blogs, videos, classes and more at!

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