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What Is Holding You Back?

What is holding YOU back?


What Is Holding You Back?

by Rik Roberts (


Is your comedy career better than it was one year ago? Are you where you thought you would be?

Take a minute and think before you answer. Wait. One … more … second. Okay.

If you immediately answered YES - congratulations! You are moving towards your goals and making progress. Let’s keep that momentum going for another year. Read on for some ideas to help you make even bigger strides.

If you answered NO, ask yourself, “What (or who) is holding me back?”

Often times, the pursuit of comedy is a daydream. It’s there in spurts. But the dream winds up on the back burner for life’s more immediate and pressing challenges. Paying the bills, working the day job, or cramming for school exams can all be real hurdles to clear. No doubt about it. They can take precedent over your comedy goals.

But let's be honest, too. Other comedians are out there making progress and some of them have the same obstacles. Some have even more complex lives. So what makes them different? How can you do better moving forward.


Could it be that you are inefficient in prioritizing the time in your day-to-day life? Think of time as a commodity (a precious one at that). Are you going to let meaningless activities keep you from your goal?

Don’t spend your time watching TV or playing video games. Resist spiraling down endless black holes on the Internet.

Instead, bust out a day planner and block off some time to be creative. Protect that time like it’s your baby. Because your dream IS your baby. Don’t let anyone or anything get between you and your focus during that time.

Acting on a plan instead of “reacting” to your day will always pay off. Setting aside time to write will help keep the creative juices flowing. Whether it’s in the morning, on the bus ride, or during a break - carve out some time to be creative.


The next step is letting people know you are serious about your pursuit. Inform your family and friends. Tell them that you are not be  disturbed during these valuable periods.

In short, set boundaries. Learning how to say NO to requests that get between you and your goals can keep you on track.


You have to set boundaries with yourself, too. Identify counter-productive behaviors that sabotage your progress. Make a list. Write down what you are going to do about them. How will you avoid these behaviors? What steps do you need to take to fix them?

Does your phone NEVER STOP CHIMING? Who is smarter, you or your phone? Your phone lets all the messages come in at random. You can turn that sucker off during your creative time.

Develop a habit of only answering incoming calls, text and email during pre-planned times.

Try only checking your devices from eight until nine in the morning. Or in an even smaller window. Don't check again until noon. I will take discipline. But, the idea is to defend your time so you can use it to follow your dream.

Trust me, taking charge of your technology will pay huge dividends.


Let's be honest. Starting a new pursuit requires lots of time. You will have to give up something you are currently doing to start comedy. Yes, hobbies and past times are now on the chopping block. Not all of them. But something has to give.

Start with truly frivolous activities. And if you aren't sure what they are - ask your better half.

When I was on the road performing at comedy clubs full time, I had lot of free time. I realize now how costly that time really was.

This is sad to admit. I used to avoid working in my craft by meandering though thrift stores looking for cool rock t-shirts. Every new town presented me with new opportunities to procrastinate. My reward? Empty dates on my book and a closet full of AC/DC t-shirts.

It seemed harmless enough. But it took discipline to get it under control.

Do I still drop in on the occasional thrift store? Yes. But only if I have accomplished everything I planned for the day. Using it as a reward instead of allowing it to sidetrack me has kept me on the track to success. No two days are exactly the same. But the amount of time I spend writing and being creative NEVER gets compromised.

So what is your "thrift store" obstacle? Golfing? Surfing the internet? What are you doing that consumes time and produces nothing in return?

Eliminate those obstacles one by one until you have enough time to tackle your goals.


Do you find yourself making excuses on why you haven’t gotten closer to your comedy dreams? Do you say the others got better because they had more opportunities to pursue comedy?


But I guarantee these hungry comics went out and created the opportunity. They hustled and found doors to open. They spent more time uploading videos. They improved and tweaked their web sites. They made it a priority to get better.

I’m not saying you didn’t. Just consider that maybe they worked a little harder and were more focused. The good news is you can jumpstart your progress with a game plan and a few changes.

Are you ready to get on track?


My first challenge to you is to create a set of “measurable” goals that you can track. You can’t identify and assess your progress (or lack thereof) if you skip this simple step.

Spend time reviewing these goals, daily, weekly and monthly. Need help getting started? Some of my measurable goals include:

  • Time spent writing
  • Time spent onstage
  • Time spent creating new videos
  • Time contacting bookers
  • Time helping other comedians

Those are just a few of the twenty plus measureable goals I track throughout the year. Is it worthwhile? Yes! The first year I set these creative goals I made dramatic changes to my career development. The second year, I saw a 32% increase in my income. I kicked myself for not getting started sooner. But to be fair, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Maybe you are like that, too.


How many goals will you set for yourself as you pursue comedy? How many of these will you measure and track? The list can be long. Then you can belong to your list.

Would you like a tool to help make your next twelve months the best it can be?


To help you get started, I created the GOALS TRACKER WORKSHEET. This .pdf is designed for comedians. With over twenty measurable goals listed, you should find a few to incorporate into your pursuit.

To request the Goals Tracker Worksheet, simply e-mail me at Put “INSIDER TIPS / Goals Tracker Worksheet” in the subject line.

I’ll send you the worksheet ASAP. And you will receive the a bi-monthly “Insider Tip” newsletter. It is full of comedy news, blog recaps, podcast summaries and a challenge to get your comedy career on the right track. You can unsubscribe from the newsletter anytime. No hard feelings.


If you feel your writing is holding you back, please consider enrolling in the online writing class. For more info on that click here.

Thanks and have a prosperous (and measurable) comedy career.


Rik Roberts is a 23 year comedy veteran. Still performing over 100 shows a year, Rik also operates the School Of Laughs workshops and classes. The courses both LIVE and ONLINE are designed to help you get bigger, better and more bookable. To find out more about these classes or to ask Rik a question, simply shoot an email to