Episode 282 — Building Bigger Goals


Episode 282 — Building Bigger Goals

Most of us initially set small goals that we find socially acceptable. We’re too afraid to set bigger goals, or we don’t have them anymore because we find them to be impossible. The goals that we do say outloud are the ones that we find socially acceptable, without being laughed at. And that sucks! We’re afraid to dream big or to dream what we aspire to be.  And it’s not because we decided that we weren’t good enough. It’s because others decided that we weren’t good enough. 

What if we stopped others from pushing their fears and insecurities, their limited mindsets onto our hopes and dreams? And what if we decided that dreams are also as good as the strategy we put in place and its execution? 

In this Podcast, Allan McKay shares his expertise about how to set your Someday Goals and how to stay focused and actually achieve them.



[00:01] Steps to Stop Your Self-Sabotage

[08:40] How to Set and Utilize Your Someday Goals

[15:34] Target Mapping Your Goals

[22:12] Opportunities Versus Distractions

[29:22] Conclusion



Hello, everyone! This is Allan McKay. 

Welcome to Episode 282! I want to talk about building bigger goals: how to go after the big ones that are going to change our lives and our careers. This Episode is going to be really deep. I always get asked this question a lot, even in the last few days: 

  • How do I stay focused and accomplish my big goals? 
  • How do I determine which goals to go after?

There is no better way to start the New Year. If you can, please share this Episode with others and / or leave a review on iTunes.

Let’s dive in!



[01:10] Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[30:37] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!



[03:15] I want to talk about making the impossible easy through mapping your goals. I talk to a lot of people about their goals. What I find for most of us is that we initially set small goals that we find socially acceptable. We’re too afraid to set bigger goals, or we don’t have them anymore because we find them to be impossible. The ones that we do say outloud are the ones that we find socially acceptable, without being laughed at. And that sucks! We’re afraid to dream big or to dream what we aspire to be. When we’re kids, our big dreams are thought of as adorable. And I hate the death of aspirations that most of all of us experience as we grow up. And it’s not because we decided that we weren’t good enough. It’s because others decided that we weren’t good enough. 

[04:22] What if we stopped others from pushing their fears and insecurities, their limited mindsets onto our hopes and dreams? And what if we decided that dreams are also as good as the strategy we put in place and its execution? In other words, there are dreamers and there are doers, but neither is good at doing things. But then there are also dreamers who are also doers. So:

STEP ONE: Remove all friction of others telling you to stop dreaming. Block those people from your narrative.

STEP TWO: Stop listening to that inner critic that tells you to stop trying. We all have that inner voice that’s trying to derail us from doing new things. That voice sparks our fears and insecurities. That critic made sense 10,000 years ago when change meant risk. If we have fear of heights, it’s because it prevented our ancestors from walking off the cliff. Being weird meant being excluded from your pack. Getting humiliated in public reduced your chances of reproducing. But what do we have to worry about in 2020? And yet, we still allow for that voice to have a say. We always hear: Get out of your comfort zone! Naturally, we’re inclined to stay in it. 

STEP THREE: Stop lowering the bar. The rare times we do set goals, they’re too easy. That way we feel good when we do accomplish them. We don’t set goals that we really worked for: where we can see and measure the change, and say, “I did it!’ Whatever the transformation is, it can make all the difference of turning your life around. You could be broke your whole life, but then go after becoming successful. Already, a lot of us are already thinking we don’t want to do the work. Or, that it’s not possible to set these goals. It is possible to get success, you just don’t want to really do it. 

[08:23] So I want to outline in this Podcast is: 

  • How to set bigger goals? 
  • And How to deconstruct them into linear goals? (But a lot of us don’t actually want to do that work.) 



[08:40] There have been studies done out there that prove we’re all born geniuses. Overtime, we begin to set limitations on ourselves and become complacent. To get better, we need to break free of that limited thinking. Stop letting others’ fears poison your mind! Stop your own inner critic from interfering and making you think small! Realize that the big goals — require big change.

[09:17] It’s time to play a game of WHAT IF. What if all those things you were told weren’t true? What if you are good enough — and you just need to do the work? What if your future self came back in time and slapped you on your face for being too afraid? That’s what your current self is doing. We destroy the possibility of what could happen from even trying it. 

[09:56] So let’s do this: Start with the end in mind! Having a big goal makes us see what opportunities come up today and what areas we get to focus on. Do they align with our Someday Goal? In other words, we have big goals and also Someday Goals. Those Someday Goals are so far off, we could be telling ourselves they were impossible. But all of our goals get us closer in the right direction. It is critical to think big. I use this metaphor a lot: You’re in the middle of the ocean. It’s life and death. You see land and it’s your Someday Goal. If you don’t have the focus on the land, it’s easy to start swimming away from it. And that’s what happens when we get distracted. Are we making progress? Have we gotten deterred? There is a moment when we look back in our life and think, “I really wanted to do X.” That’s the regret stage of our life. So when an opportunity comes up, you can ask, “Does that align with my Someday Goal?”

[11:53] Ultimately, we want to get to a point when we know instantly if an opportunity doesn’t align with our Someday Goal. I’ve talked about this before on my Podcast. I talked about a Year of No. It was a year when I said no to any opportunity that didn’t align with my Someday Goal. One of the things that happened early on was that Eddie Murphy’s people called and said he wanted to meet with me. I didn’t give it much thought. It all moved to them offering me to look over a script. It was one of those opportunities that came up right after I made the decision to say no to anything that didn’t line up with my Someday Goal. When I was on the phone, I felt, in that moment, that I needed to say no. In another lifetime, I could invest in those ideas. It would be a cool idea to do, but it didn’t line up with my ultimate goal at the time. I also thought I would lose money as a result. In fact, I tripled my salary that year. I spoke about this at an IAMAG Master Class in Paris.

[14:00] I want to talk about how we set goals. It’s important to identify the pattern and why it doesn’t work. Many of us say that we want to get a specific result. Usually that means doing more of something or doing less of the other. If we want to get in shape, for example, it means that we need to exercise more. Or, we may need to give up a bad habit. That’s great but it’s not how you’d make a massive shift. 

[14:57] The other problem is when we do set bigger goals, we’re saying what we aspire to get — but we don’t get an actual plan. We aren’t thinking about what we need to do to pull this off; what skills we need to have or what people we need to know. By having the end goal in mind, it means we know where we need to work.



[15:34] There is this thing called Target Mapping Your Goals. It’s a critical thing. This changed my life when I was 14. When I dropped out of school at 13, I wrote down a big goal: I wanted to go work in Hollywood and make movies. What if that were possible? What would that look like? Then I took this end goal and looked at it as if it were made for another person. What would that person look like? And what would that person have that I didn’t have? It would be experience, connection, talent, credentials, awards. Who was that amazing person? I wrote down everything that person needed to get to that person. At 14, I didn’t have any of those things so it made it impossible for me. But instead, I looked at the person that could do all that. At least, that made it real.

[18:00] One of the most powerful things I’ve been told is, “If Allan could do it, so could I!” I heard this over and over again from other people. The more I heard that, the more I understood it. They beat their inner critic this way. What they were doing is the same thing: I was someone who had done it while they hadn’t yet. It was like Roger Bannister with the 4-Minute Mile (www.allanmckay.com/218). As soon as he beat that record, other people were able to do it after him. That record was broken many times, but it took one person doing it. So if you can conjure up that person that could do what you want to do, then you can follow in their footsteps. So I wrote down everything that person had to have. By mapping out those key requirements, I could say, “To get that thing, what would that require?” Experience, education, etc. 

  • With experience, you need to know what you’re doing first.
  • To get a job, you need to demonstrate you’re able to get the job.
  • You need to have a work visa, if you want to work in the U.S.

[20:32] Bit by bit, you build this long laundry list of things. And you can start building a strategy around those. I began to build a map and it started to look plausible. It was still a shitload of work, but then it’s about changing your narrative. [20:50] Change your narrative! Anything is possible, it just takes a lot of work. There is more to it but the gist is: You start from the end as the person who is able to achieve that Someday Goal — and you deconstruct that. So you can engineer it backwards. 

[21:35] You start to break it down until it becomes a recipe. You work backwards but then it becomes linear. So instead of looking at a million steps ahead, you just take it a step at a time. And these steps point us in the direction that we need to follow. 



[22:12] Finally, we need to be aware of the forks in the road. Once you have the linear path, you need to get rid of the forks that derail us. Knowing your bigger goals, allows you to look at every opportunity as a “hell yeah” or “no!” Things become really black and white. Start identifying what could be an opportunity or a distraction along the road. This version of you is saying no to Eddie Murphy, or to Microsoft, or being a VFX Sup on that one movie that would be a 3-year commitment. 

[23:11] The last thing we need to talk about — is connecting the dots. The more you do this, the better you get at it. To get off topic, a friend of mine is really successful. We were talking about his wanting to make a course. I kept harassing him that he had to make this. I was forcing him to get off his butt and make it happen. Eventually, he got on it and every Friday, we kept working on it. It’s about training your mind to be more creative. It’s like going back to your child brain before you’re told you couldn’t do something. As children, we’re able to solve complicated puzzles. So everything he put in the course has been related to science. He learned to rethink how to approach problems. As adults, we don’t get a lot of the answers. Children think very differently. So we’ve been doing these exercises, and one of them has been about connecting the dots. I’ve also talked to my friend about the billionaire mindset. (My friend is a billionaire.) He talked about how a millionaire will recognize where there is a need in the market; while a billionaire will disrupt the industry. In a way, that’s what I’ve thought about: It’s about connecting the dots. Seeing things at face value and reshaping them into opportunities. And that’s what we’ve started doing. I’ve made these exercises my daily routine.

[26:57] Not only is it about saying no to opportunities. It is also about being able to see opportunities when they come up. Once you become clear about what it is you want, you’ll start seeing opportunities everywhere. Let’s talk about RAS (Reticular Activating System). Your RAS is your mental filter. It filters out anything that’s too much to take in. When you’re ready to hear something or to learn something, you’ll see / hear it everywhere. It’s not a new thing. It’s just that you’re now filtering in certain topics and letting them in. That’s where you start seeing opportunities everywhere. So when you’re having conversations, you start asking the right questions. You start to steer them in the direction of better opportunities.



[29:22] We’re all a work in progress. There will be plenty of opportunities to get derailed. Which is why it’s important to have those Someday Goals to get us back on track. I know this is a bird’s-eye-view [of this subject]. I would love to talk about this more. (We do this in the Career Intensives for my Courses.) We can start creating content around this, so I can give you actionable advice. Part of that is putting some of these concepts into action, but also identifying where you’re stuck or where you should be instead.


Thanks for listening! I hope you got a lot from this Episode.

I will be back next week speaking with Hugo Guerra from Hugo’s Desk. He is a Director and VFX Supervisor. We talk about money and business — these popular topics no one ever wants to talk about.

If you can, please leave a comment or a review of this Episode on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

I’ll be back next week. Until then — 

Rock on! 


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