Have you ever felt like you’re on a treadmill that just keeps going and even though you want to get off you just don’t seem to know how? If you’re human, I know that you’ve felt it—everyone has. And let’s be honest, “What am I doing with my life?” is a valid and scary question. But I’m never shy about asking tough questions, especially if they will lead you to the answers you are looking for.
So, what are you doing with your life?
Are you fulfilled? Are you happy? Are you living the life you’ve always dreamed of?
If so, congratulations! If you’re not, congratulations for admitting it! Knowing that your career and your life aren’t going in the direction you want it to can actually be an incredibly powerful motivation.
The challenge with actors and artists is that we often want a lot of things to be different. But through all my years of coaching actors, I usually find that all of those not-so-great parts of your life stem from to one key source that, if altered, will change everything.
I’ll bet you already know what yours is—it’s usually pretty obvious even if you don’t want to say it out loud. And I’m not talking about outside factors like, “if I were just in a Broadway show everything would be great.” No, I’m talking about things you have complete control over.
Is it your self-image? Are you in a relationship you need to get out of? Do you need to take voice lessons again? Do you need to get a job? Do you need to quit smoking? What is it? What is that one thing that would change everything if you took the step today?
Whatever it is, take it right now. Here’s how:
1. “Be” with yourself.
As artists, we are pulled in so many directions as we run to auditions, balance our day-jobs, families, and friends. Before you can blink an eye, a year has gone by and you’re still running around like a chicken with your head cut off. So make a point to “be” with yourself every day, just you—the real you. You can do this by taking time daily to journal, meditate, or walk with nature. Stop doing and start being.
2. Stop that one bad habit.
You know which one I mean. It’s that habit that’s affecting every aspect of your life. It might be smoking, procrastinating, sleeping till noon, being late, jumping from relationship to relationship, complaining about the business, gossiping. Whatever. Stop it right now. Think highly enough of yourself to treat your mind and body with great respect and your life will transform almost immediately.
3. Tackle the big issue.
Yes, that big issue! Everyone has one. Many times we skirt around the issue and look for other excuses as to why something isn’t going our way instead of really addressing the biggest thing holding us back. And, quite honestly, usually the thing holding you back is you. Pretend it’s someone or something else if you like, but the reality is that it’s only you.
4. Stop doing what you don’t like to do.
People assume that when you’re good at something, you also like to do it. But trust me, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. So cut out at least one thing you really don’t like doing and give it to someone else. Even if you have to pay the person, find someone else or some other way to have that thing done for you.
5. Take a break.
Actors always feel the need to push themselves so hard, especially goal-driven ones (hello!). But taking a break and allowing yourself to breathe and get perspective will catapult you forward quicker than hard-nosing your way through whatever you’re working on.
6. Stop making excuses.
There’s nothing less empowering than blaming everything and everyone else for your own mistakes. Sure, it’s easier to say, “the accompanist really screwed up” than, “Wow, I really didn’t prepare properly for that audition.” Everyone can have a rough day—at an audition or otherwise—but as soon as you take responsibility, your world becomes an easier place to navigate.
Take hold of your life and you will begin to know exactly what you’re doing with it!
Leslie Becker is Broadway actor, Billboard artist, and best-selling author of “The Organized Actor.” Since 1994, her teachings have helped thousands of actors create successful careers and, more importantly, to be strong individuals so the highs and lows of the industry are balanced by a strong belief in themselves. As an actor, she has appeared in 10 Broadway and National Tour productions and has starred in over 50 regional shows. She is the host of the Facebook Group Organized Actor Alliance and offers free tips for actors at OrganizedActor.com.
Check out Backstage’s TV audition listings!
The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.