Happy New Year, and all that. You had a good Chrissy? A nice break from work (for some)? Laughed, drank, got fat? Good job. Have you set any new year’s resolutions? Ugh. No. No I have not. You know why? Because I’m really not that […]
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Boy-meets-girl, both meet career expectations.
This is not another review about how La La Land is a nostalgic escape from the political turmoil of the day. Nor is it about how the film is a saccharine example of why the world is so polarised. The movie is both of those things. This article is about La La Land as a different genre: a feature-length infotainment production about career progression in a competitive job market.
If you don’t want spoilers…
What you should know: It’s a pleasant movie with a secondary storyline about romance. It’s not about romance. That doesn’t mean that it’s not romantic, but it has more than one definition of romance. Now, stop reading because the spoilers are coming.
If you’ve already seen it, or you don’t care about spoilers, read on…
This is a playful movie about how to be good at networking. Read this version of the synopsis and tell me I’m wrong:
La La Land is about two people in the same industry trying to rise up the career ladder. Promotions elude them because of their poor attitudes, which causes friction within their networks. The girl learns to focus on positive-thinking and skill development. The boy learns about grief management techniques and goal setting. Both are able to achieve their professional goals, but the audience is able to see that if they had not been so negative during their networking activities, they would have reached their career goals faster and experienced smoother personal lives as well.
Lessons from La La Land
The main theme of the movie is networking. Whatever your goals are, if your interactions with others are positive, your life will move in the direction you want it to move. When Mia and her friends sing “Someone In The Crowd”, they may have well all been recruitment consultants. The message (somewhat lost in their desperation) was about nurturing positive relationships. Even outside of the entertainment industry, this is a good lesson. Actually, La La Land has a lot of good lessons.
Lesson 1: It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know and how you treat them
Have you ever had a job that you didn’t care about? You did the minimum amount of work, maybe you turned up late a lot. You didn’t put in much effort because you knew you wouldn’t be staying there for long. So what happened when you were ready to leave? You didn’t have a good referee because nobody wanted to vouch for you. You didn’t care about their job, why would they care about yours now that you’re leaving? But it’s not just your relationships with known connections that could be affected. You never know who is going to be a useful connection, so don’t burn your bridges.
Lesson 2: Sacrifice is not the answer
As discussed before, sacrifice is stupid. If you lie to someone to make them or someone else happy, you will hurt someone. If your personality, beliefs, passion and soul all align and then you give up who you are for someone else, you’ll both end up miserable. You’ll get stuck in a sacrifice circle until one of you breaks. That’s not fun. But if you are positive and stay true to who you are, you’ll get wherever you are headed faster and it will be an easier ride.
Lesson 3: It’s not too late to change your career trajectory
Feel like you have stalled, think about what you can do about it. Could you get some extra training, maybe a free online course or a via a local meet-up? Could you attend some networking events, and if you already do are you developing meaningful connections? Have you actually identified your goals so you know exactly what you are working towards and why?
Lesson 4: Your vision of success can change and you can still be happy
Don’t adjust your vision to fit your resources. Identify your vision and adjust your resources to fit. What did Mia truly want from her career? She wanted her work to have a positive impact on people. That success could have taken many different forms, but if she had held too tightly to the vision of affecting others through screen acting, she wouldn’t have worked on her play, which developed her storytelling skills, which got her film gig. Her skill development advanced her career in either ending, but when Mia enjoyed the process she had a greater impact in her audience and felt more successful. As said in Lesson 3 above, it’s not too late to change your trajectory, just remember to enjoy the changes on the way.
If nothing else, think of La La Land as a reminder that we could all benefit from a little self-reflection. Re-evaluate what you want from life and see if you’re on the right path. While you’re contemplating, put the film’s soundtrack on. I think we can all agree it’s pretty damn good.
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How many goals have you set for yourself at the one time? How many did you achieve? All of them, thus giving you a massive sense of accomplishment and the head size to match? Or none of them, resulting in an entire weekend on the sofa, sulking, with reality TV and a bucket of ice cream while you wish you never set goals in the first place.
The most I’ve ever set at once was about nine and I can’t recall whether I achieved any of them. But I never stop setting goals, because some I do manage to achieve and that feels pretty good. So why do some work and some fail?
After some experimentation of methods for maintaining motivation towards a goal, these are the two things most likely to throw me off track: the process isn’t fun or the goal isn’t a priority.
Tweet: Identify why you’re losing motivation towards you goal: either the process isn’t fun or the goal isn’t a priority
Exercise isn’t fun, I have more important things to do than finish that project, learning a language is frustrating. Some goals might fall into both categories. No wonder we keep failing at them!
How to find the fun when working towards a goal
It’s about the journey, not the destination, yada yada yada. How do we actually do that?
Try taking a step back from the goal. What are some activities that you do that make you feel good? What activities do you enjoy freely, without any thought to achievement? Can you combine one of these activities with a goal?
Thinking of two of the most commonly broken New Year’s Resolutions, losing weight and saving money, how could we combine fun with these?
Exercise equipment in front of the TV is a popular idea, but what else? There are all sorts of developments in the exercise-powered electronics range, but for something more simple, how about a Walking Book Club?
Saving isn’t a fun process, but instead of focusing on how to spend less (boring!), thinkabout how to have more fun at home (yay!). Learn some new recipes, binge-watch some quality shows online, fall back in love with actually calling friends on the phone and having a good, long chat! Actually, invite them over to enjoy your cooking! Spending less and saving more will become a side-effect of your in-house entertainment.
How to prioritise your goals
In order to be motivated enough to achieve a goal, there has to be a good reason for having it in the first place.
Ask yourself “Why do I want this?”. If the answer is along the lines of “because it would be cool”, this is not your goal. You’ve set it for people other than yourself.
Tweet: Ask “Why do I want this?” – If the answer is “because it would be cool”, it’s not your goal. You’ve set it for people other than yourself.
Let that goal go, it’s not yours.
If your answer relates to self-ownership and personal growth and satisfaction, that’s great! You just need to work out why you’re not prioritising it. Why are you undervaluing something that is important to you?
I set a goal to read more. I used to read novels but I haven’t done in years. I would see sites like GoodReads or hear friends talking about what great books they’ve read lately and I would feel like I’m missing out or being left behind. I was adding a strange competitiveness to reading, which I knew was ridiculous. It meant that reading wasn’t my goal and that it was a frivolous activity that wasn’t worth prioritising. I had to rethink why I wanted to read more. The real reason was that I wanted to write a novel. Completing even just a first draft would be a great personal accomplishment and also be a gift to those around me who have inspired it. I am more inspired to write when I’m reading. I want to read more to fuel my writing. I realised that reading wasn’t frivolous, it was a fun way to inspire my writing. That made the goal mine, and a higher priority, and a lot more fun!
So really think about your goals. What’s getting in the way of accomplishing them: are they not fun, not yours or not a priority?