Sometimes you can find great life lessons in the story of a brilliant, bloodythirsty killer.
When the sci-fi horror movie Pitch Black came out back in 2000 (holy crap, 16 years?) I was completely man-crushing on Vin Diesel's character of Riddick. If you haven't seen it, think of if Hannibal Lector and the Rock had a baby. A character that could just as easily get inside your head through psychological mind-games as he could with his bare hands.
The newest chapter of the space convict's story (just titled Riddick) came out in 2013 and I fell in love with the character again. It wasn't until I rewatched it recently that I realized why I found the character so appealing and...well...inspiring. (please hold off on alerting the authorities, I'm going somewhere with this and it has nothing to do with murderous tendencies).
Riddick is one of the best troubleshooters and plan-builders ever put to screen.
How he establishes his goal and with laser-like precision and determination sets out to accomplish it is incredibly admirable.
The first act of the movie quickly sets the stage (Riddick is stranded on a desert planet where many of the things there just LOVE to kill anything that moves). He's got to adapt and survive.
He locates an abandoned bunker some distance from him. The only catch: in order to reach it he has to go through a narrow pass between two mountains where a particularly nasty creature resides. Observing how the creature attacks and the deadly venom it uses to take down its prey, he wastes no time in formulating a plan.
Honest to god, the first 30 minutes of this movie are all about Riddick trying to make it to this bunker. There's no dialogue (other than some internal monologue here and there) but you see how he's thinking through his situation.
Set Goal: To survive this sh*t planet of death.
How will I achieve this goal?: By reaching the supply bunker beyond the mountains where Mr. Pinchy lives.
Make Plan: Riddick's got his goal and knows what stands in his way. The creature attacks with a venom that instantly paralyzes its prey. So he captures a baby Mr. Pinchy, takes its venom and microdoses himself with it building an immunity. Problem solved.
Next, he observes how the creature attacks: It distracts/lures with its tail and then SURPRISE leaps out and strikes. So he prepares to lure the creature into attacking him so that he can counter and kill it. Problem solved.
During this sequence, Riddick is thinking of nothing else. There is only one goal on his mind and nothing else distracting him. He is determined in his strategy.
When he goes to confront the creature, he is ready. The creature attacks, he is immune to its venom and Riddick takes it down. After passing safely through the mountains, he reaches the bunker...and then the rest of the story happens. But I'm not going to spoil the whole thing for you here.
It's a glorious payoff moment after seeing him calmly assess his situation, figure out what he needs to do and then puts his plan into motion. And it's so simple.
And not only that, it's only a sub-goal of his for eventually getting off of the planet in one piece. A smaller part of a bigger plan that he broke down into even smaller steps.
How often do you set goals and establish a plan for yourself?
I'm going to guess almost never. Because we all know it's good practice and that we can benefit from it. We've all heard the advice to "write your goals down on paper" because then you'll stick to them. And yet, we almost never take the time to do it.
I'm guilty of this myself. I think of goals in my head which really are more like wishes ("I'm going to run 25km!" or most recently "I'm going to get a job assistant editing on this kickass TV show that I love!") and am getting used to writing them down along with the steps I need to take.
What's keeping you from taking 5 minutes to put your goal to paper?
You've reach the end of this article so you can't blame me for distracting you.
Do it now. Grab the nearest piece of paper and a pen, write down your goal as simply as you can put it, and put that sucker somewhere where you'll see it every day. On the side of your monitor, on your mirror...hell, stick it in your pocket for now.
For extra accountability, post your goal in the comments below. Like Tyler Durden I may check in on you occasionally to see how much progress you've made.
...okay, maybe I've got a problem relating myself to psychotic characters but you gotta admit, they get the job done!