LONG TERM GOALS NEED SHORT TERM ACTIVITY:  by Gene Perret

All of us have big dreams.  Or at least we should have.  Lofty goals keep us enthused.  They keep us focused and give us something to look forward to.  Someone once said, “Aim for the moon.  Even if you fall short, you’ll still wind up among the stars.”  Entertainers especially see big things in their future.  They want to become celebrities, have their own shows, and make lots of money.  That’s good.  That’s the way we should think of ourselves and our careers.

One problem with looking forward to a glorious future is that it is in the future.  Most of us are realistic enough to understand that we can’t have the success we want overnight.  It takes time to learn one’s craft, to gain experience, to polish an act.  These things cannot and should not be hurried.  

However, admitting that much of our good fortune may be some time in coming, doesn’t mean that we can’t begin working towards that success immediately.  Anyone who has big goals should start working on attaining them immediately.  Some of you may feel this is contradictory.  You ask, “How can we say that something is in the future, but we should start working towards it right now?”  

If you logically analyze it, you’ll realize that the future is built on those things we work on before that future arrives.  Let’s look at some other areas to explain that idea.  Suppose you want to become a renowned concert pianist.  You want to give concerts at Carnegie Hall and hear the applause of the music aficionados who admire your virtuosity.  If you don’t play the piano or read music now, that achievement is certainly a long way off.  

You’re going to have to study to learn to read music.  You’re going to have to practice to teach your fingers to move gracefully over the keyboard.  You’re going to require an excellent teacher to help you perfect your skills.  You’re going to have to discipline yourself to devote the time to practicing and perfecting your technique.  But even these items seem to be in the future.  What can you do immediately, right now, today – maybe tomorrow at the latest – to begin your journey to piano mastery?  Well, for one thing, you can start your research for a good piano teacher.  If you can’t afford lessons, perhaps you can find a way of getting a job or saving some cash that can go towards paying for your lessons.  Yes, these are mundane things, but you can do them now.

The same idea applies to other endeavors.  If you want to be a professional golfer,  you’ll have to learn the basics of an effective golf swing.  You’ll have to go out and hit a bunch of golf balls in order to groove that swing.  That takes time.  What can you do immediately?  How about buying a golf club.  

There’s a story about a parish priest who badly needed money to keep his church functioning.  He prayed devotedly to win the lottery.  Many drawings came and went and this humble priest was never among the winners.  The pastor began to despair and even to get angry that his prayers weren’t answered.  Then one night, the Lord appeared to him.  The priest had the audacity to complain to his maker that he prayed intensely and yet the Lord never permitted him to win any money in the Lottery.  The Lord said to the priest, “Sam, do Me a favor.  Buy a ticket.”

It’s only a gag, but it does illustrate that if you want to have a chance to win the lottery, you do have to start by buying a ticket.

Whatever plans you have for your own glorious future – as a great magician, an hilarious comic, or a entertaining and skilled ventriloquist, you can and should begin now to make those plans happen.  

There’s always a chain of events that lead up to achieving your goal.  With some diligent planning, you can always work backwards to the present.  Envision your goal as vividly as you can, but think what would have to happen for you to reach that goal.  You should come up with something specific.  Then work backwards from that point and think what would have to happen before you can reach even that point.  Continue to logically work backwards until you come up with something that you can do today – this hour – to start the chain of events that will lead to the accomplishment of your dream.

Once I read that people sometimes think illogically.  In fact, they think backwards.  They reason that if I had such and such, I could then do such and such, then I could be the successful person I would like to be.  For instance, if I could get a job writing for a television sitcom, I would write really funny material, then I would be a successful and rich writer.  

No, first work at becoming an accomplished writer, then you may get hired to write for some television shows.  Once you do that, you’ll be the successful writer that you long to be.

In any endeavor or any profession, dreams are admirable.  But to accomplish those dreams, you must begin the work immediately.


Learn more from Gene Perret with his books, classes, and newsletter.  Information available at www.comedywritersroom.com/store.  Gene also has a free joke service,Perrets’ Humor Files, featuring original lines.  Take a look at www.jokecrafters.com.  You can email Gene at RTComedy@cwo.com.


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