10 Tips to Creating and Designing 2018” and Having Your Best Year Ever!

Inside the Producer’s Corner with Suzanne Lyons

This is a series of articles that film producer and best-selling author Suzanne Lyons (listen to her interview here) will be writing over the next 6 months. I personally asked Suzanne to share her knowledge, experience, and motivation with you the IFH Tribe. Whether you are a director, producer, cinematographer, screenwriter or editor I think you’ll get a ton out of this series. Check back every week for a new post that will help you on your journey as an indie filmmaker.


10 Tips to Creating and Designing 2018” and Having Your Best Year Ever!

In my last article, I gave you ‘10 Tips to Wrap Up 2017 and Having the Best Holiday Ever!’  I hope you were able to take the suggestions, tips and exercises and put them to good use.

I also promised you that I would follow up with ‘10 Tips to Creating and Designing 2018” and Having Your Best Year Ever!’  As I mentioned in my last article, this was part of a workshop called Launching the Future at the Flash Forward Institute that I led for many years.  I always stressed the importance of generating and creating your year.

If you are not putting yourself in charge of your life and career and literally creating your future, you will always be at the effect of the circumstances around you.  I haven’t led this workshop for the past couple of years, but I’ve been getting quite a few requests from the alumni and seriously considering doing it again later this year.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

It is so much more fun and powerful to cause, create and generate.  It puts you in control of your life.  Moving into a new year should be a thrilling adventure.  I think why it fails to occur that way for so many of us is because we tend to bring our past and our unfinished business into the future with us.  So, our future then becomes about fixing, changing, improving, and perpetuating the past.

Hopefully, with the help of the suggestions and exercises in my last article, you were able to put the past in the past where it belongs and you are ready to jump into 2018 with the joy, excitement, and exuberance of a child.  I hope the following tips will help you design 2018 as a year that passionately turns you on!

To make it a little easier to follow my suggestions I have put these tips in the form of exercises. Enjoy!

Exercise #1:  LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD!

To begin to deliberately and intentionally design and create your year, I recommend that you begin from the future.  My husband and I start thirty-five years out!  Then we back time from there.  It’s a blank slate and YOU get to create the story of how it’s going to unfold.  So, it is far into the future and you are receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.  If someone were standing up to give an account of your career (or personal life) what would you want them to say?  What was your contribution?  What would you be most proud of?  Where have you made your mark?  What have you created?  Why is the Entertainment Industry (or your industry) better now than it was before because of you?

Exercise #2:  FIVE YEAR VISION: 2023

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  What would fulfill you?  What would excite you? (You can also do your personal life here as well).  For example, for me my Five Year Vision is:  have completed three more feature films; have a TV series on the air; have my children’s book in book stores worldwide; have a home in Nova Scotia as well as one here in Los Angeles; have excellent health.

Exercise #3:  THEME FOR 2018

Your THEME FOR 2018 is not about fixing anything.  It is instead more like an inquiry for your year.  The context in which you’ll hold the year.  The glasses you’ll look through.  The terrain you’ll explore.  What turns you on?  What interests you?  What would you love to explore?

If I mapped this on to my entire life (all aspects of my life) what would that look like?

For example, one year my husband and I took on the theme “Fun and Adventure” and it was one of our best years ever.  Other examples could be “Effortless Abundance”, “The Year of Partnership”, “Fun”, “Being Present”, “Tranquility and Forgiveness”, “Social Butterfly”, “Health and Wealth”, “Romance”.   It might look like “That’s not me” and that is okay.  It’s a new territory to explore.  It is a quality that you will bring to everything.

This exercise is often a bit difficult for people, so in my next blog I will write an entire article about it.

Exercise #4: ONE YEAR GOAL

Standing in your new THEME, where do you want your career to be by the end of the year.  (This could be personal goals as well).  What is the next chapter going to be about?  What is the next step in your career?

The goal is the tangible focus for your year.  It’s what your actions are going to be organized around.   Here are a few examples from participants in the December workshop a few years ago:  “I will have sold my first novel and have the advance to write the second book.”  “I will be executive producing a new one-hour TV series.”  “I will have secured the $200,000 funding for my thriller feature.”  For this exercise, I recommend three to five goals.

Exercise #5: POSSIBILITY 

Take each one of your goals and write out what would be possible in your life when you achieve them.   Do the exercise at least seven times for each goal.  For example, if you were to get that promotion at work, what would that make possible that is not now possible.  Then, when you answer that question, write out “what would that make possible that is not now possible”.  When you answer that question, write out “what would that make possible that is not now possible”, etc. Do it at least seven times for each goal.

So much of the time we focus only on the urgency and necessity of our “to do list” and yet without spending time really looking at the possibility of our goals, our purpose and our vision, the “to do list” becomes a chore.  And the actions we take are no longer fun and exciting.  They no longer give us the joy we felt when we first started.  In fact, the actions often start to feel like a struggle instead of a pleasure.

That is why this exercise is so valuable.  The possibility is like standing in the bigger picture of your life and from there you will be inspired to take action and any action you take will have the results you want.  Then it is effortless and fun, and the obvious next step has no great drama attached to it, like “am I doing the right thing” or “taking the right step”.  It will be the effortless next step.

Exercise #6: DECLARATIO

Now it’s time to re-invent yourself in your speaking.  Who do you declare yourself to be this year?  Who do you need to be to fulfill on the possibilities of your year?  This is not something you already are necessarily or something you need to prove.  A declaration required no evidence.  Your word has enormous power.  A declaration is like a sacred saying.

It’s like giving birth to something.  The moment you declare it, you are not the same person.  It’s like raising the bar.  Write down at least three declarations.  Some examples are, “I am a prolific writer,” “I attract money effortlessly,” “I wow investors,” “I close deals,” “I am a magnet for great roles in movies,” “I am a person of integrity,” “I am a powerful enroller,” “I am an expert communicator.”

Exercise #7: TIMELINE/MILESTONES

In order to accomplish your goal(s) and get the results you want what Timeline would you need to set up for 2018?  What milestones would have to be put into place within your Timeline to ensure you were moving forward?   Milestones give us targets and let us know if our actions and who we are being are sufficient.  They are valuable feedback.  What milestones would naturally be a reflection of your goal(s)?

Get a big piece of paper and make a column on the left to list your Goal(s).   Then write the months of the year along the top.   Write 1 month under February, 3 months under April, 6 months under July and 9 months under October.

Then write in what would have to happen by 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.  Or if you would rather do it in reverse (which is what I do) you are welcome to do that as well.  You would start from the final quarter and work backward….9 months, 6 months, 3 months, 1 month.

For example, in the case of my workshop participant writing his first book, the milestones for his timeline might include: by April 1st have the first draft of the book complete; by July 1st he has submitted it to agents; by October 1st the book sells and by December he has an advance on the second book.   Of course, there will be a number of actions that will need to take place on a monthly, weekly and daily basis but it really helps if you first break it down into a timeline with milestones.

Exercise #8: ACTION PLAN

What Actions can you take to get the game in play?  What are some of the things you could do this month (January)?  Look at your February 1st Milestone and list at least 5 actions you can take in January to ensure you achieve it.  For example, for the novel writer, his actions for January could look like this:  Write 5 pages a day on the book; Research appropriate Literary Agents; Draft a Query letter to Literary Agent; Start making a list of Writers’ Organizations; Reserve website domain name.

Exercise #9: ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN

This means teaming up with one or more people so you can be held accountable for your promises, timeline, etc.  It could be a quick once a day or once a week call with a friend or a weekly or twice monthly team meeting or breakfast.  For example, for years I was part of a team of six people who met every Tuesday morning for breakfast and then we would report in by email every Friday and share what we had accomplished and what still needs to be accomplished to reach our weekly goals.

Exercise #10: VISION BOARD AND VISUALIZING 

With the amazing success of “The Secret” ten years ago a lot of individuals and companies started to implement the Vision Board into their annual goal-setting ritual.  A number of guests on “The Secret” noted its value.  Jack Canfield in his book “The Success Principles” suggests we use pictures, images, and symbols to keep our conscious and subconscious mind focused on our goals.  I incorporated the Vision Board into my workshop years ago and the participants loved it.  Another exercise I included was Visualizing.

This practice is being used by some of the most popular Career and Management Coaches in the country.  Dr. Joe Vitale in his “Miracles Coaching Program” suggest we write out our goals as if they have already happened.  It is something I now do every Friday.  I pick one of my goals and write a brief story of it in the present tense and then I sit back and visualize it happening.  It’s great fun and it works!

There is a great quote by Abraham-Hicks that I love and believe it fits perfectly here while we’re doing these exercises and creating our year.  “Like the dog who sticks his head out the car window and risks getting bugs in his eyes… It’s well worth it for the joy of the ride.”

Have fun with all of these wonderful exercises and have a magical, magnificent, fun-filled, adventurous 2018! 


Suzanne Lyons is President/Producer of Snowfall Films, Inc. having produced/exec produced 12 feature films to date. She co-founded the Flash Forward Institute which focused on teaching the tools of business needed to market oneself in the entertainment industry. She recently launched a game-changing online course called Indie Film Producing Masterclass with Suzanne Lyons. She’s the author of Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking published by Focal Press. She has also hosted over 125 informational videos on the film industry. When time permits she does private career and business coaching.  Suzanne is originally Canadian and lives with her husband in Los Angeles, CA.    

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