It’s 2015! A new year and we feel the pressure to change. It’s in our cultural consciousness as the ball drops. We want to make some changes. Lose weight, eat healthier, get to the gym more, get signed by an agent, book a guest star role…and so on. We’re collectively hyper-focused on a new start as we transition into a new year. We want to seize the opportunity to change as much as we want to reject it. Clean slate. Fresh start. Resolutions. It’s a lot.
Who needs the pressure? We can change anytime. But if this is the time when we’re putting the microscope on what we want to change, let’s come at it differently so that we can achieve indisputable success. To do that, we’ll need to make a shift in our attitude.
Nothing happens overnight. Real change takes time. It has to. And it takes consistency. We tend to look at social movements as well as industry success stories as instant, almost magical. We romanticize them. Yes, successful endeavors have their defining moments, and stardom—the life George Clooney leads has—become an aspiration (even a secret one) for many. But real success comes with a life-long journey filled with hard work, a few battles, several disappointments, and small glories that may or may not culminate in victory. And it often takes years, sometimes decades. We’ve been at this for more years than we care to count, but carrying a few battle scars of our own, we’ve learned to welcome the work for its own sake, and to appreciate its long-lasting value. Clooney knows this all too well.
As artists, to ask ourselves to achieve a list of external goals in 2015 is hardly realistic or smart. Alternatively, what is achievable and long lasting is embarking on a path of dedicated, consistent work in our artistic life, our health, our relationships, etc. With this pursuit will come some struggle, but a little agony is unavoidable when you begin to take risks and push yourself. Struggle is what leads to change. It comes with a willingness to embark on the path of focused practice and thus, genuine artistry.
Financial security is certainly desirable and it matters, but what we truly want is to feel the deep rush of emotion that comes with creating something and being a part of something that’s being created. The money will come, it has an uncanny way of finding talent in action.
So, we’re advocating for you to let go of the list of things you want to accomplish and look at this new year as a time to commit to your artistic and holistic path as a way of life, not a checklist. To do the work for its own sake, trusting that it will grow you, enlighten you, and draw the people you need in your life and career closer to you.
Do what scares you. Do what’s uncomfortable. Do what seems far-fetched. Sure, take small(ish) doable steps, but be willing to challenge yourself. Be willing to surrender to the process. We’ve been watching actors at the studio face their fears and take huge leaps. We see them dig deep emotionally, engage with each other in profound ways, write entire screenplays, and find power and talent they never knew they had. We’ve also seen actors hit the wall and run away, not ready to work their way through resistance—and there will most definitely be resistance. Steven Pressfield wrote, “Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
We are asking you to stare your fears in the face and embrace them. This is your true goal for the new year. To do bold, brave work no matter what. To feel your calling, more than ever at this very moment, and meet your resistance. Surrender; give up control. It’s not in the fight but in giving up the fight. It’s in the work itself.
The great actors we admire (look at the extraordinary performances in films and TV from 2014), the greatest painters, writers, and athletes, all work hard, no matter what their celebrity, creating work that’s downright audacious because they absolutely must. And from their burning need to create, their fears serve to fuel them, not paralyze them. Their conviction is stronger than the resistance. “I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn it to its advantage.” —Friedrich Nietzsche
If you’re willing to do this at the start of this new year, you will achieve the real fulfillment you ultimately crave—that which every actor, no matter how famous, rich, or accomplished craves. So make your 2015 resolution to embark on this journey of committed, whole, tireless work and the most amazing gifts will come. And you’ll be a much happier, saner actor throughout 2015.
Happy New and All Year!
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