The Business of Show Biz: New Era
Thursday, January 15, 2015
By Velina Brown
Q: I want 2015 to be a new era in my life. It's time for a change. There are so many different choices swirling around in my head. Have a baby? Wait on the baby, move to L.A. and really go for a film career? Commit to being a Bay Area artist? Cash in my MFA and focus on finding a tenure track teaching job? I don't know! My acting career has been puttering along, but I want more: more work, more challenges, more money, more excitement, more satisfaction, more meaning, deeper purpose...MORE. Can the Bay Area give me more of what I want, or do I need to move? I know you couldn't possibly tell me what to do, nor do I want you to. I'd just like to hear your thoughts about how people go about making these big life and career decisions.
|Actor and career consultant Velina Brown.
A: Making the leap into parenthood, pulling up roots and moving or changing careers are huge era-changing choices. Having so many options can be liberating but also confusing and paralyzing. Here are some ways to release the paralysis.
Try shifting from a "what's going to happen if I choose this or that?" mindset to a "what do I truly want?" mindset. There is no crystal ball, and you have no control over external conditions. However, if you get quiet and listen to your inner self, you know what you truly want.
In Carol Lloyd's Creating a Life Worth Living: A Practical Course in Career Design for Artists, Innovators, and Others Aspiring to a Creative Life, Lloyd takes you through a "three paths" exercise in which you envision and explore three possible futures for yourself. Another book that offers helpful processes is Your Best Year Yet!: Ten Questions for Making the Next Twelve Months Your Most Successful Ever by Jinny S. Ditzler.
I've led hundreds of mostly actors, but some directors and writers as well, through a goal-setting process that is very powerful. In a nutshell, begin with the end in sight. Imagine that you've had a thoroughly satisfying and fulfilling life. Not only a great career, but a fulfilling life. Picture what you want to be able to talk about with your grandkids (if you want to have grandkids). Picture it. You've spent your time on this earth in a way that has meaning and is satisfying to you. What does that look like, sound like, taste like? Where are you? Who is around you? Let this vision guide you. The choices you make now will ideally line up with where you ultimately want your life to go. This may seem obvious, but many don't make their biggest life choices based consciously on what they truly want, but rather unconsciously in response to the squeakiest wheels in their life. For the complete process, look for my Goal Setting chapter in TBA's ATLAS Manual, coming out later this year.
No matter the process, you must take time and focus on understanding what truly matters most to you. What are your values? What is your definition of success? What gets you up in the morning ready to rock and roll? No matter what anyone else thinks or says, it's your thoughts and beliefs that determine your experience. Looking for more meaning? The meaning of your life and work is based on the meaning you give to them. Three people can be doing the exact same thing, and each one can be having a very different experience and assign their experience different meanings.
Are there actors who are bored to tears in the Bay Area, in Los Angeles, with children, with out children? You bet. Are there actors who are excited to be in the Bay Area or in L.A.? Yes. Are there actors who are thrilled to learn they are about to have a baby or that they are not about to have a baby? Yes! The point is, what are the components of satisfaction, meaning and purpose for you? If you primarily want a film and television career, you'll definitely find more opportunities in L.A. But it's not just about the zip code. What are you prepared to do when you get there? What you are seeking you must find within yourself. To what are you going to bring excitement, purpose and meaning? Any of the paths you are considering could be a wonderful journey. On which adventure do you want to go? Theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman sums it up beautifully: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Here's to a Happy New Era and a Happy New Year!
Velina Brown is an actor and career consultant. Send her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.