There are two things you need to know about Thanksgiving. No. 1: I don’t say Turkey Day. Never have. Never will. No. 2: It’s the perfect time to start a gratitude journal.
What’s that, you ask? It’s exactly what it sounds like. A gratitude journal is a simple way to keep track of all the good in your career.
As I’m sure you know, the business of acting can be frustrating. The constant struggle can leave you feeling like you’re lost in the wilderness. But the truth is, no matter how lost you are, there are always moments you should appreciate, because those moments will help you find your way home. The trick is to notice those moments, because most actors miss them—and that’s where a gratitude journal comes in.
The act of writing down everything you’re grateful for on a daily basis will increase your level of awareness. You’ll start to see the good. You’ll stop focusing on the bad. And that improved state of mind will help you accomplish your goals.
There are two ways to do this. First, focus on the big picture. Start by listing a few things in your life that you’re genuinely grateful for. This could be supportive parents, a flexible day job, or the guidance of a skilled teacher—whatever! Just start your journal entry every night with a few of those items, even if you’re just repeating the same ones.
Now, focus on the daily moments. That’s all the positive stuff that happened during your day. This will be tough at first, but if you ease into it, I’m sure you’ll come up with at least one good moment. And if you don’t, that’s fine, too, because you’ve got that big picture list to fall back on.
A daily moment might be something like this: Your agent took your call and you chatted for a few minutes and you feel like he really heard you. That’s a positive moment of connection, and you initiated it by making the call. It doesn’t have to be as major as booking your dream role.
There are plenty of journals you can buy that are specifically designed for this purpose, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on this. You can just use a spiral notebook—but avoid keeping a journal on your computer. The act of physically writing seems to increase the long-term benefits.
By the way, I’m speaking from experience. I started keeping a gratitude journal two years ago, and it changed my life. Now I can’t imagine ending my day without making an entry. I even sleep better, too!
Here’s an inspiring quote from author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss: “It’s easy to become obsessed with pushing the ball forward as a Type-A personality and end up a perfectionist who is always future-focused. The journal is a therapeutic intervention, for me at least, because I am that person. That allows me to not only get more done during the day but to also feel better throughout the entire day, to be a happier person, to be a more content person—which is not something that comes naturally to me.”
Keep that in mind! An acting career isn’t just about craft and business. It’s about the little things that can help you achieve your dreams. And keeping a gratitude journal is one of them.
This story originally appeared in the Nov. 21 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.
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