Let’s talk about setting goals and achieving them. I’ll share some of my personal goals and the process I went through to achieve them.
One important factor about setting goals is to be realistic. You may want to master a second deal or write a book within three months, but that’s not going to happen. You need to set some smaller goals first and see if you can achieve them. You’ll need to find what kind of time you can invest. Everyone’s schedule is different. So, typically, you’ll need to make adjustments as you go so you can find a balance between your regular day-to-day tasks and adding in time for these new goals.
We all push ourselves in different ways. However, I believe that we all are the same in one way: once we set a goal and achieve it, we’re more likely to continue along that same path. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. If you set unrealistic goals and fail a few times, you will continue feeling like there’s no point in trying any more.
First, think about what you really want. Are you a hobbyist when it comes to magic? Is your goal just to improve a sleight, or do you want to be a full-time professional entertainer? Are you looking to release material and be a creator, or do you want to be a consultant for other magicians. When I set my goals, I make sure that they’re all leading to the final result that I want. I was lucky. As a seven years old, I knew what I wanted to do: perform magic for a living. For almost my entire life, I’ve worked towards that one single result. If you want to be a close-up performer, just sitting at home and practicing or creating material to release won’t get you to your goal. You need to be out there performing for real people.
In 2010, I came to the realization that I wanted to write a book. I had created some really solid routines and figured I should contribute to the magic community and give my take on what strong card magic should be. I added “Writing” into my calendar. It was blocked off just like any other appointment I might add to my schedule. I scheduled this from 12pm to 8pm. I tried this 7 days a week. This meant that if a friend called to hang out, I’d have to say no. That’s how closely you have to stick to these tasks. It’s work. It’s your job. At first, I thought I could write the whole book in 6 months. That was not realistic. I had a tough time committing to 8 hours of work with no days off. I found out that I did better when I scheduled 3-5 hours worth of writing and took the weekends off. That was a writing schedule that I could handle. I found out that it took about 1-2 months to write up just one chapter. I did a little bit everyday and eventually the book was finished. Also, I work better with deadlines. Without deadlines it’s easy to say, “I’ll just do it tomorrow.”
Rewards are also important. My reward to myself for writing Confident Deceptions was a new car. How rewarding would it be to buy a car financed by my hard work? I even bought a model of the car I wanted and left it on my desk as a daily reminder. In 2013, I finished the book and bought my car. (Now a new car wasn’t the only thing I wanted obviously. It was just a nice tangible thing to remind me of my success. Life is more than just material things.)
I have another reminder on my desk. It’s the nameplate from a bank I worked at for three weeks. This was the only 9-to-5 job I ever had. I was a bank teller just before I quit to pursue my career as a touring musician. In a few short weeks, I could tell that this life of having a boss tell me what to do was not for me. “I’m going to need you to come in tomorrow, and if you could come in on Sunday too, that’d be great.” Fuck that! Anyway, I keep the nameplate on my desk as a reminder that I’ll never go back to that life. Write, create, and practice or you’ll have a nameplate again. I used this same approach with fitness, cards, photography, guitar, piano, cooking, golf, and everything else that I wanted to learn more about. As a matter of fact, I used the identical writing schedule for my second book, right down to the model car.
So, ask yourself what do you want or what’s the craft you would like to improve. Take lessons, read books, and find a mentor. Set realistic goals. Find a way to break up the learning into manageable pieces. Schedule these regularly. Give your self some sort of reward to sticking to the plan and I promise, you’ll get there.