This is Thanksgiving weekend, a time we're supposed to show gratitude for all the good in our lives. I realize that's not easy, especially when you're an actor. How can you give thanks when the industry is always there, in your face, reminding you of all the goals you still haven't accomplished? It makes more sense to keep moving forward, like a soldier at Normandy, clawing for every inch of ground you can find.
I love working with actors who are driven, but the smart ones know how to shift into neutral. Taking a step back allows them to see the good. That's how they survive. So to help end the year on a positive note, I'm giving you a homework assignment that you can complete during the holiday weekend. I'm sure you can squeeze it in between football games and all that leftover turkey.
First, you'll need a pen and two sheets of paper. I want you to write the word "Good" on one sheet and, you guessed it, the word "Bad" on the other. Now sit back and relax. Breathe deeply. Have a drink if you need to. Allow your mind to drift back over the past year and examine every aspect of your acting career. I'm talking about your search for representation, your work in class, your auditions, everything. Now start listing all the positives and negatives on those sheets of paper. Take your time, be honest, and don't worry about which list is longer. That's not important.
When you're done, give yourself a pat on the back. You are one step closer to being a self-actualized actor.
Now here's the first tough question. What did you write down first? Was it an accomplishment or a failure? How you respond will provide you with some insight about how you see your career. I'm willing to bet that most of you started off with something negative, something you don't have. That's not healthy. You need to focus on the positive. The other path leads to a dark place where monsters dwell.
Here's another tough question. Are there two ways of thinking about some of the items you came up with? For example, did you write, "I had 10 great auditions but I didn't get any callbacks" on the Bad list, or did you write, "I had 10 great auditions" on the Good list? See the difference? If you constantly default to the negative, then your long-term career prospects aren't very promising. Worse, your mental health could be in danger. I don't mean to get all Anthony Robbins on you, but your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself.
All right, that's enough soul-searching. Let's move on to the fun part. Please take the Bad list and destroy it! You can set it on fire or you can turn it into confetti. I don't care how you do it, but I want you to get medieval on that sheet of paper. You can even blast music while you dance naked around the remains.
Did that feel great? Was a burden lifted from your shoulders? I hope so, because from now on I want you to treasure the Good list. It represents your accomplishments. You will refer to that list when you make your New Year's resolutions. You will expand on it in 2012.
Remember, you always have choice, and the conscious brain can hold only one thought at a time. So choose a positive thought, my friends.