“Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.”
-H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Getting up, getting out, and going after our dreams is a feat we try and accomplish almost daily as we go about our routine of hitting the pavement to find success in our respective careers. (This is partly influenced by the inspiring line “gonna get up, get out and live it” from Sweet Charity. It’s one that I love to think about when gearing up for the day). Like many people, I have multiple career goals I would love to accomplish in a timely manner. Sometimes realistic goals are set and met within a short period of time, but quite often it’s not as straightforward and easy as all that. I often catch myself trying to put my goals into a timeline in the hopes that I’ll accomplish them more easily if I set an expiration date on how long I have before I need to focus on something else. Side note– Don’t put set time limits on goals. They will happen when they’re meant to with a proactive mindset. If you don’t try, you for sure won’t accomplish them. It might take other opportunities along the way to help you achieve some of what it is that you seek to complete.
We artists are dedicated individuals when working toward succeeding at the things we want to achieve as a part of our careers, but we might lack motivation with the parts of our careers that aren’t “glamorous” that will take us to the next step. I admit that sometimes I miss out on some of the things I want to go after as I don’t make myself focus on what it is that has to happen. Opportunities won’t simply fall at one’s feet. We have to go after them, and that means we have to focus not only on the parts we love to do, but also the parts we might dread. It’s not always fun to do, but it has to be done. Find what it is that motivates you to go out and chase your dreams to the next level. If I’m really struggling with finding motivation to finish a task I don’t particularly care to do, I might look up inspiring quotes, watch a clip of one of my favorite performers, or read a book in a subject of interest to get me through to the end. Find the motivation from what/who inspires you, and follow through.
We have so much at our fingertips, so we really don’t have any excuse for not being able to access the information we need. Utilize the resources you have, and use them to help you be proactive. Especially in this day and age where we have many different mediums we can use to our benefit. Take advantage of what’s in front of you. If it’s a show/role you want badly enough, you will find the motivation to do everything you can to make it happen. If you wait for it to come to you, disappointment is sure to follow. Stop making excuses, figure out what you need to do, and work on solving the equation. We’ve all been in the position of making excuses for why we can’t do something, so when you catch yourself doing that, turn it around and act upon what it is that needs to be done.
Training and taking regular classes catering to your strengths is very important, but it’s not enough if you really want to be a professional artist. I admit that I easily get drawn into a pattern of only taking classes I’m familiar and comfortable with as I consider them to be fun, and because I know the teachers and the style of what we’re doing. I’m getting the material because I’m used to the style, but am I benefiting or hindering myself if I’m not varying what it is I’m taking? (The answer is hindering). If I want to get myself out there and be proactive in getting to be a stronger artist, I have to make it a priority to work and challenge myself more with things that I’m really uncomfortable doing. I might not find it as fun at first because it’s new, but it has to be a priority in order to succeed. I’m working on branching out not only with the dance classes I take, but also with signing up for seminars and workshops that teach me things I need to hear. It might not be what I want to hear because I know I need it and am afraid to face what it is I need to learn. I know that I will have more work to do in order to succeed.
Perhaps make a personal goal to go out of your comfort zone so much that you’ll later have to push yourself yet again with something else. It’s great to have the teachers you take from regularly who know your strengths and weaknesses as an artist, but ask yourself if you’re taking enough risks and if you’re being proactive to the point that will grow as an artist. Are you going out of your comfort zone and able to do an audition of any style and feel good about how you did? So much is out of our control at auditions depending on what the casting directors are looking for, but training to be put on the spot and able to handle anything thrown your way is important.
If you find that you aren’t thinking outside of the box in terms of how much you’re doing to help yourself get to the next level, question what else it is that you could be doing to help you be more proactive. It might mean taking a break from the regular classes you take and making a list of classes you need to make you really work. Do research on the shows you see listed for casting calls, and research classes that would help you with that particular style. Make a goal for yourself that will push you out of your comfort zone, and keep on track with making that happen each week.
Go through your resume and all resources you need for auditions, and see if there’s something more you can do to improve them. Ask a mentor for feedback, and look at examples that may help in seeing if how you’re representing yourself is working for you. The casting process may be out of your control due to many variables, but being proactive about how you present yourself and your product is up to you. If you don’t put the time and effort into being as versatile as you can be, and in the work you do with your headshot/resume, ask yourself if you’re sure that it’s what you really want to do. Make it a goal to follow through, and see how the changes help you along the way. Perhaps the little steps will lead to the ultimate dream. There’s always room to grow and improve. Always something new to be learned.
We all have our individual dreams we want to fulfill, and if we aren’t proactive we can’t expect them to come to fruition. Sometimes it can be hard to put into words what it is we really want, so it’s important to take time every so often and reflect on what it is we’re seeking. Don’t give up, but keep pushing yourself to the next level, and when you hit a plateau, find a way to climb up higher to the next peak. Work hard, do your research, and don’t forget to have fun along the way! No one said it was going to be easy.
Administrative Assistant/Musical Theater Student
Some great sites to look into as potential resources. (There are many more out there, but these are some that are very popular sites with artists).
photo: Paul B. Goode