Lesson 4Rob Hardy

How to Set Ambitious Goals, Then Actually Achieve Them

Lesson 4Rob Hardy
How to Set Ambitious Goals, Then Actually Achieve Them

Welcome back to the Fundamentals of Filmmaking Success!

As a quick refresher, the last lesson was about building a daily routine around your most important work. This is hands down the best strategy out there for making consistent and meaningful progress in your career. No joke.

But let’s be honest, routines aren’t sexy. No one wakes up in the morning all excited and saying, “hell yeah, let’s do this routine!” It’s just not a motivating thing.

Instead, one of the biggest motivators—and one of the best ways to make big leaps forward in your career—is to set exciting and ambitious short-term goals. Goals that you could accomplish in 30 to 90 days if you really buckled down…

Goals like:

  • Writing your first feature, then getting it fully funded within 90 days.
  • Launching your new production company and landing your first major client over the course of a month.
  • Making connections and forming relationships with five high-end cinematographers in the next six weeks.
  • Starting an email list for your next film and growing it to 1500 subscribers in the next 60 days.

These are inspiring “kick in the ass” goals that while difficult, are not out of reach. And it’s through stacking goals like these that you can craft a successful career, even if your definition of success is insanely ambitious.

Think about it. If your ideal career is directing Hollywood blockbusters, that’s not something that’ll happen right away. But it can absolutely happen over the course of a few years through a series of increasingly ambitious short term goals. 

It’s kind of like the famous domino test, where one small domino can knock over one that’s 50% bigger, and so on, until that one tiny domino has effectively knocked over one 50 times its size.

Here’s a handy gif to show you what I mean.


Pretty cool, huh? Just imagine what your own “big domino” career goal might be, and how it’s totally achievable through a series of smaller goals that build on one another.

Why most people fail miserably with their goals

Ok, so we know that goals can help us make big leaps forward in our careers, but that’s ignoring the elephant in the room.

Everybody has goals, but hardly anybody actually achieves them. Whether it’s spontaneous New Year’s resolutions, or carefully thought out goals, we’re generally awful at following through.

This comes down to two separate problems…

  1. You set goals that are either way too ambitious (or way too vague), and without a clear roadmap for how to achieve it, you fall off the wagon.
  2. You set solid goals, but after that initial excitement and motivation wears off, you stop doing the work and making progress. Eventually, the goal just gets thrown away.

Do either of those issues sound familiar to you? Because they certainly are for me. My psyche is basically a graveyard for abandoned career and fitness goals.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Two keys to setting and achieving any goal you want

The solution to the first problem is simple. You just have to know how to set goals properly, so that they’re specific, they’re genuinely meaningful to you, and they stretch your abilities, but are still within reach. And more than anything else, the career goals you set should be a clear stepping stone towards your definition of success.

Beyond that, you’ve got to understand how to reverse engineer the goal so that you can build a clear, actionable roadmap for achieving it. I heartily recommend a process called “backwards planning” for this. If you’re interested, just google it.

Again, these are simple solutions, because problem #1 can be solved with a little bit of knowledge. And you can find that knowledge in any number of books, articles, or videos. Or even in an upcoming course from your internet friend, Rob Hardy :)

But the solution to the second problem is far less simple… because it deals with intangible concepts like motivation and willpower. And if there’s one thing you should know about motivation and willpower, it’s that they’re incredibly unreliable. They’re useful when they’re around, but we can never count on it.

Luckily, you don’t need any understanding of psychology or behavioral economics to solve this problem… if you’ve built a daily routine around doing your important work. 

This was the “a-ha!” moment for me, when I realized that daily routines and goal setting weren’t two different strategies, but instead two sides of the same coin.

Because once you have a solid routine around your work, you can just adapt it for whatever goal you happen to be working on! And since your routine is consistent and habitual, it doesn’t matter whether you’re feeling motivated on any given day. The work just gets done!

It’s the perfect 1+2 punch. Once you’ve got that daily routine in place, you’re so much more likely to stick to your goals and crush them. And once you’ve gotten a taste for achieving ambitious goals, you’ll want to do it again and again and again, which is exactly how you reach the heights of your ideal filmmaking career.

You start with that smaller domino, then let it topple the next one, and the next one, until eventually you’ve built so much momentum that you can accomplish anything you want, no matter how ambitious.

And that, my friend, is the magic of this system I’ve been showing you over the past week. 

It’s not only applicable to any kind of filmmaker on any kind of career path, but it’s infinitely scalable. You can use it to accomplish the smallest of projects, or the biggest of career goals. How you choose to use all of this is up to you.

So let’s recap everything we’ve done so far. You’ve…

  • Designed your dream career in film based around what you truly value in life
  • Found the most important activities for making legit progress in that career
  • Built a habitual routine around those core activities
  • Threw gas on the fire with strategic short-term goal setting

There’s just one more piece to this whole system—developing grit and resilience—which we’ll talk about on Wednesday. But in terms of what to do, this is it right here. This is the key to building something incredible, one step at a time.

If you’ve felt stuck, like you’re not making the kind of progress you want, I just handed you the antidote. It’s not complicated, but it’s definitely not a quick fix or a magic bullet either. 

All I can say is that if you think strategically like this, then actually do the work, you’ll start seeing traction in your film career fairly quickly. And if you keep doing the work, you can build whatever kind of career you want. I promise.

Your homework, should you choose to accept it

That’s it for today, friend. Like the first three lessons, I’ve got a few workbook questions for you that will help you identify which goals to focus on in your career right now.