The Business of Show Biz: Keeping the Momentum
Thursday, September 26, 2013
By Velina Brown
Q: How do I keep my momentum going on my goals? I make my goals, start out feeling optimistic and then just get bogged down in the day-to-day issues of my life and day job. The next thing I know, the year is almost over and I've hardly accomplished anything. Friends who've moved to L.A. say I need to be somewhere where everyone is 100 percent focused on their careers and on "making it." They say that will kick my butt into gear. Do you think changing markets will help?
|Actor and career consultant, Velina Brown.
A: First, I would suggest going back to the goals you've been struggling with. Maybe you're losing focus because they aren't really your goals in the first place. And please take time to clarify what "making it" truly means to you. For example, I once worked with an artist who thought she wanted to go to grad school because that's what her friends were all talking about doing. But she couldn't seem to push herself to research the different programs, sort out how she would finance her return to school, work on the applications or choose and prepare her audition pieces. She was stressing about it without actually doing anything about it and feeling like her problem was a lack of discipline. But as we went through a goal-setting process that started with focusing on her dreams, she suddenly realized she didn't want to go to grad school. What she really wanted to do was start creating and producing her own work. She actually had become tired of always trying to fit into other people's concepts and images. Preparing for grad school just felt like more of the same "please choose me" behaviors she'd grown weary of. Once she had discovered her actual heart's desire was to "choose herself," she moved quickly with amazing discipline; she wasn't slogging through resistance anymore. Within in few short months, she'd written a one-person show, submitted it to festivals and ended up performing it to sold-out crowds at a fringe festival, which launched her down a thrilling new path that is in line with her true interests. She may eventually go to grad school, but it would be because it is her dream, not someone else's.
Which leads to your next question about whether changing your zip code will change your productivity. Maybe. If it's your desire to pursue a career in film and television, moving to the film and television industry hub may "kick your butt in to gear." But if you have a big problem with procrastination, moving to L.A. isn't likely to solve it. Discipline is not external. It's an inside job.
For example, my buddy Colman Domingo (Passing Strange, Lincoln, Wild with Happy) told me this story about the early years when he'd just moved to NY from the Bay Area. He and a friend moved there at the same time, and both got jobs at the same restaurant. Colman worked hard at his survival job, but whenever he wasn't at the restaurant he was working on his art: doing readings, stuffing envelopes, helping other people on their projects, getting to know people, writing, planting lots of seeds. After about three years, several seeds started to sprout. It seemed like overnight one cool thing after another started coming to him. Some people, including his restaurant buddy, started demanding to know his "secret." He cracked me up when he exclaimed in hilarious Colman fashion, "There is no secret! I've been workin' my ass off!" Colman moved to the bigger market, dug in and accomplished a lot. His restaurant buddy moved to the same market, got tangled up in restaurant staff politics and after three years hadn't even done one reading. Moving to the bigger market did not help Restaurant Buddy stay focused on his art. Moving to L.A. alone is not likely to help you stay focused, either.
What might help?
1. Make sure your goals are actually in line with your dreams.
2. Break tasks down into what the author of many creativity books, SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy), calls "micro movements." She explains that one way to overcome resistance is to break things down into tiny enough pieces (not baby steps, amoeba steps) that each one is super easy to do and take no more than 1 to 15 minutes to accomplish.
3. Build in accountability. The odds are you haven't been telling anyone your goals. Say your goals out loud to someone. We often keep promises to others more readily than we keep them with ourselves. A coach or an accountability buddy can help you stay on task.
Appreciate and celebrate each tiny step you take.
Get your micro moves on. The year isn't over yet.
Velina Brown is an actor and acting career consultant. Send her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.