Think like an actor to go after what you want

Do you want something big from life?

Why not think like an actor in order to give it your best shot?

What's the difference between a good actor and a bad one? A bad actor pays little attention to objective and intention.

We've all heard the phrase "What's my motivation?" It may sound to you smug like actor speak. But it's mega important to a good performance, whether on stage or in life. 

When I started theater school I had zip, zero, zilch idea that there was any technique behind what I was doing naturally. Trust me, my natural was not great. It was in a word, vague. The real reason I got into this school was because I could belt my buns off.

I quite literally wrote my Shakespeare monologue on my hand on my way to the audition because I hadn't rehearsed enough. Thankfully most of it sunk in while I was writing it on my hand and I quickly learned that this school was going to be super focused chalked full of words like intention, objective, obstacles, actions, and yes, motivation.

Don't know what you're doing up there on stage? Don't know why you're doing it? Don't know how you're going about it? That's gonna turn into a giant suck fest super quick.

Now for the fun part

You can translate this into real life in order to be a more interesting character in your own narrative.

Sounds sexy right? 

Actually quite nerdy.

When you can separate out your true intentions from your inner (and outer) monologue you can gain more control over the outcome. By using OBJECTIVE and INTENTION (and action) we can lay out our plan to take over the world, or maybe just get laid.


Yes. Let's start with sex as an example.

OBJECTIVE- My husband wants to get laid.

INTENTION-He wants to convince me to have sex with him.

ACTION-He will hint, follow by seduce, followed by begging.

OBSTACLE-It's a Tuesday and we only have sex on Saturdays. Duh.

I kid.

Sort of.

Seriously though, you can use this acting technique in job interviews, dates, marital disputes, or any number of "scenes" in real life. We start with OBJECTIVE.

Simply put objective means “what do I want out of this circumstance?"

The objective is the goal that a character wants to achieve, worded in a question form "what do I want?”  The clearer the objective the better the scene.

I’ve learned to use it as a focus to my life on many different levels and you can too. 

Let's break it down

I’m meeting someone to pitch them an idea for a new play I’m writing. In this meeting I have one OVERALL objective, referred to as a SUPER OBJECTIVE.

In my pitch scenario my super objective is what I want out of the whole meeting. Simply stated, “I want to sell my script.”

Within this conversation I have MINI-OBJECTIVES woven throughout my super objective. 

My first mini objective: "I want to be perceived as confident."

I use ACTIONS to achieve this goal. This can be achieved any number of ways and I may choose one or I may try them all in order to win my objective. 

Action one: Perhaps I will open the door swiftly.

Action two: I might push my shoulders back.

Action three: I add a little swish in my walk because I've worn my 3 inch boots that make me appear larger than life, or more importantly make me feel larger than life.  

I stick out my hand, he or she raises there eyebrows and it seems I have one this round. Beat one.

I either win a challenge (a beat) or I lose it. If instead I walk in all confident but trip on the carpet, stumble over, stick out my hand and say "Well that was embarrassing I will have lost that beat. Confidence lost. Beat lost.

That's okay. There's always a new objective to play in the scene.  

Life and stories wouldn't be interesting without obstacles.

In my pitch scenario one obstacle might be that this interview/conversation may start off feeling stiff and uncomfortable.

No prob. I see the obstacle, set my intention and instantly have more control over the moment. In other words, I'm not just wingin' it.

I clearly state the goal in my head in between sipping my latte.

“I want to make this person relax into the conversation." My second objective clearly labeled in my mind I begin.

Action one: I start by asking her advice around their area of expertise, people do after all want to give advice.

Action two: I use witty self-deprecating jokes to loosen up the moment.

Action three: I can simply sit back, cross my legs and appear less formal.

On the other side of the table they do the same.

Objective won. Next beat and it looks like we're on our way to achieving the goal.

This last action, sitting back and crossing my legs is probably the clearest action I can take towards my objective. No words, just the clarity of the movement of leaning back.

Clarity is the key.

The salesperson who sells the most is clear, concise and doesn't have a lot of muddied up water surrounding them.

This is the way to spot a bad actor or salesperson and it's also how you can spot of bad joke or a terrible deal.

Pacing about without any clear reason, using a funny voice in order to distract, you may deduce that either the actor, writer, or smarmy sales guy is trying to fool you.

Perhaps that is indeed his intention. "I want to fool you."

Unless, however this is a clearly thought out distraction (key word action) in order to obtain your objective, it usually just makes for a bad scene.

The objective will land if its clear and concise. 

My objective was to sell my script. Yours might be “I want to get this job.” “I want this girl to go out on a date with me." “I want my mom to keep me in her will."

In your quest for each of these you will have moments that are called beats in which you either win or you lose your objective. This is what propels the story along and what propels our lives forward. If we’re watching two people not try to win at anything that makes for a pretty boring story.

If you find yourself milling about in life, perhaps it's time to set some clearer objectives and intentions to make things more interesting.

You can practice by going into a dinner party with a few clear objectives set out for you that night. It will make the dinner party more interesting and you can practice.

See what happens if you try one or more of these objectives. State them by using the phrase "I want to"...

One: I want to make someone laugh.

Two: I want to get contact information from someone I find influential or interesting.

Three: I want to tell someone a secret about myself during the night.

There doesn’t really need to be any reason why. This is just to practice what it feels like to lead with an objective and notice how it might change your outcome for good or bad.

Have fun!


Molly BellComment