Featured Columnist: “Thoughts From The Third Coast”
I have a radical idea.
What if you didn’t make any of your usual resolutions for 2019? They never really stick anyway, right? You know which ones I’m talking about. They sound something like this:
I’ll finally lose those last ten pounds.
I’ll get an agent that really works for me.
I’ll take that class that I’ve been meaning to take for the last few years.
I’ll spend more time preparing for my auditions.
I’ll work on my social media accounts and get new followers.
I’ll master that one dialect that I’ve never quite been able to do.
I’ll be better about updating my website.
I’ll finally make a website!
I’ll get smarter about the business.
I won’t waste money and instead reinvest my extra money in my career.
I’ll go to the gym at least three times a week.
I’ll finally learn a better audition monologue.
I’ll get new headshots.
I’ll go see more theatre – not just the stuff my friends are in.
I will write a one-person show for myself.
I will get a better day job.
I will update my reel and reformat my resume.
The list goes on and on. There really are endless tasks you can perform to nudge your acting career in the direction you want it to go. And you may be diligent about these resolutions for the first few weeks or months of the year. But how many of them are you actively working on in, say, August? By that time do you even remember what your resolutions were? Or have you fallen back into the same old habits that you resolved to finally ditch at the beginning of the year?
Have any of these resolutions really helped you to establish new habits, routines, and patterns that will launch your career into the stratosphere?
Instead of making the same old ineffective resolutions, what if we reframe and retool them so that they actually create lasting, positive change?
Let’s take a look at what three of those new resolutions could be.
Resolution #1 – I will get clear about what I want.
It’s easy to create all these tasks for yourself with the idea that they’ll make you a more successful actor. But what does that really mean? What does success look like to you? Does it mean snagging the lead in a Broadway musical? Does it mean landing a recurring role on a sitcom? Does it mean making enough money as an actor that you can quit your day job? Spend some time visualizing what success looks like to you.
But don’t stop there. This is simply the first step to take when you want to get clear about what you want.
Once you’ve identified what external circumstances or achievements would look like success to you, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Visualize those situations again and imagine you have achieved them. But this time, pay attention to how they make you feel. Most likely, these situations make you feel happy, and happiness is a worthy goal.
But we’re still not done. Now ask yourself – why do these situations, these external circumstances and achievements, make me feel happy? What kind of opportunities do they provide? What is the essence of this success, and what need does it fulfill?
You may be surprised by the answers.
Maybe you derive a feeling of worthiness, of contributing to something that is greater than yourself. Maybe you feel the rush of relief in knowing that you are financially stable and all your needs are taken care of. Maybe you feel that sense of connection that you get when working on a big project with some of the world’s most talented people, playing for audiences who are spellbound by your performance.
The external circumstances aren’t your real desire. Your real desire is the feeling you get from those circumstances. THAT is what you really want, and that is what you should focus on attracting into your life – those feelings that will make you feel truly satisfied.
Be open to how those feelings may manifest in your life. Those external circumstances that bring you the feeling you desire may look a little different than what you expected. By letting go of your narrow definition of success – say, I want to be the lead in a Broadway play – and instead focusing on creating a situation that gives you the feeling you love when you utilize your talents to connect with people in new ways, you will invite all kinds of exciting opportunities into your life that you may never have even dreamed of before.
I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. I’m excited for you!
Resolution #2 – I will believe in myself.
On the surface, this one seems easy. Of course you believe in yourself, right? Otherwise, why would you have made this crazy decision to pursue an acting career knowing that the cards are stacked against you?
Here’s the thing – many of us think we believe in ourselves. But that belief may not be as strong as we assume it is. In fact, it’s probably the reason that your New Year’s resolutions have failed in the past. If you really believed you could be a successful actor, you would be one already.
I know, I know. I can feel you getting prickly. I get it. But hear me out.
How often do you procrastinate? Do you avoid taking risks because of fear of failure? Do you get down on yourself because you aren’t as far along in your career as you think you should be? Do you wish you were more attractive, had a better body, or more money in your bank account? Are you constantly comparing yourself to your peers?
These attitudes reflect the need to do some inner work in order to truly create an unshakeable faith in yourself. We get back what we put into the world. And these attitudes, these worries, hinder your ability to create the life that you want, whether you realize it or not. I’m talking about deeply held subconscious beliefs about yourself that your conscious mind may not even be aware you hold.
So what the hell are we supposed to do about that? I’m glad you asked.
You CAN change your attitude about yourself. You CAN get to the place where you believe, deep down, that you are worthy, that you are capable of handling challenges, and that you’re capable of remaining persistent even in the face of these challenges.
Every day, no matter how things are going, you need to visualize the success you desire. Consider it rehearsal for the future, and apply the same discipline that you would to anything else that you rehearse for. Imagine all your dreams have come true, and that they are happening right now. Live in it. Focus on the feeling you get from it. Do this as often as possible. Every night when you go to bed, close your eyes and live this successful life.
You know what the best part is? It’s fun! Think of it as a game you get to play with your imagination every night.
I promise you – if you keep this up, your belief in yourself, in your ability to live the life you have imagined, will continue to strengthen. This is an extremely powerful tool that is invaluable to the life of any actor. I am shocked that more schools and training programs don’t teach it. It is just as important, if not more important, to your success than any other external factor that is beyond your control.
Resolution #3 – I will be mindful of my words.
Words are important. I don’t care what our current administration will have you believe, but what you say and how you say it have meaning. Words are the tools we use to create our reality. Are you focusing on the good ones?
Here’s an exercise – spend a day just noticing what you say. Pay attention not only to the words you say to other people, but the words you say to yourself. Are they largely positive or negative? Do you find yourself complaining more than you thought you did? Do you tend to wax poetic about your troubles and misfortunes? Does your misery love company?
If you find that many of your words throughout the day are negative, guess what? Then that’s what you’re attracting into your life. Your negative words are contributing to your reality. When you say something out loud, or even think it enough times, it becomes your truth.
Do you really want to be the person who never gets the job? Do you really want to keep struggling, to keep feeling like things just don’t work out for you?
Of course you don’t. And the only way you’re going to stop being that person is to be more mindful of the words you use. When you talk about what you don’t have, what you can’t afford, what you won’t do, you are only succeeding at attracting more of it into your life. Best-case scenario is that you can still attract the good you desire into your life, but it will be much, much harder.
When you find yourself saying or thinking something negative, try reframing it into something positive. Instead of saying, “I am overweight and that’s why I’m not booking any roles,” why not reframe it to, “I am in the process of making healthier choices and attracting the work I want into my life.”
It’s going to feel clumsy at first. If you have a habit if speaking negatively, it will take some time to adjust to this new way of thinking and speaking. You may even have to pause while you reconsider the words that are about to come out of your mouth. But the more positively you can talk about yourself and your life, the more you will create the reality you desire.
What did I miss?
These are just three of the countless resolutions you can make that don’t fall back on those tired old empty promises we usually make to ourselves this time of year. How will you resolve to change this year so that you can attract success in your acting career? Head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation.
Amy Clites is a writer and actor who relocated to the Third Coast (the shores of Lake Michigan) after 20 years in NYC and LA. She most recently wrote for OnStage Blog about actors and gratitude. Check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.