When you’ve set a big big goal for yourself and it’s killing you to meet it, often you’ll reassess your tactics. When I set out on this current path my goal was “to find work as an actor or television writer”. Like any other project with a goal, this one had three facets: time, budget, and scope. Of course the scope is the same as the goal. That was my mission statement. If was a business entity, a career in entertainment would ultimately be my product.
Now, I don’t want to crush any dreams, but I have realized that I’m not cut out for that goal. I might have enough talent to make a reasonable living at it, but my ambition is lacking. I won’t go on auditions or submit my work around because in the beginning that leads to fairly small potatoes. In the end that’s all I may end up with because it turns out there are a thousand tall white guys with ukuleles trying to be Steve Martin to the Chuck Palahniuk generation. My niche is an industry. And that’s just in New York.
A less wise Phil, perhaps myself two or three years ago, would have looked at the limitations keeping me from this goal and tinkered with the expectations for budget and money. Namely, he would have said something like “I don’t care how much it costs or how long it takes. I’m going to rule this town!” And that’s admirable and a completely rational way of assessing one’s goals. Honestly, if you want something bad enough, you need to be willing to sacrifice everything you have to get it. For most of us, all we have is time and money.
But remember that you were the one who set the goal up to begin with. You’re playing a finite game because you’ve chosen to play it. Indeed, if you really had to be playing the game, you wouldn’t really be playing it.
What the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about the third facet of your big big goal: the purpose itself. I honestly believe it is my purpose to bring joy to this world. I seem to have a knack for it, it makes me happy, and it makes others happy. I’m just good at making people laugh.
That meshes cozily with life as an actor or comedy writer, but there are other ways to fulfill my purpose and make a living at something else. Just like a character in a play has tiny little motivations that they seek beat-by-beat all in service of that character’s grand-arc motivation, I’ve come to realize that getting laughs on TV is not my purpose (necessarily). It is a nice thing that could potentially happen to a guy like me. But for me, that’s all it is.
Right now I’m still doing improv comedy shows. I’d like to keep writing and performing in sketch shows. Let’s be honest; I’d still love to get to write for a television show. I connect with the universe a little every time someone laughs at my silliness. But it’s all on my terms.
Relatively soon I’ll stop hitting the stage. I’ll go back to school and follow some new adventure for a while until the wind blows me elsewhere again. I’ve got other fish to fry, but I’ll never forget why I’m doing these things. Why do I do anything? To make the world smile.
If you want to know the meaning of life, here’s how you find it:
- You can only know the meaning of your own life.
- Look at your biggest goal and ask yourself why you’ve set it. The answer may be an even bigger goal than that one. Keep asking Why until there is no higher purpose. You’ve found it.