Stuck in Your Career? Here Are 3 Things to Stop Doing
I don’t need to tell you that we just started a new year and a new decade.
If you’re like most actors, you probably took some time over the holidays to reflect on your goals and design a plan of action to make 2020 your big year.
But, One thing many actors don’t recognize is that, often, what you don’t do can play just as big a role when it comes to achieving your career goals.
Here are a few traps I’ve seen actors fall into that could block you from accomplishing your goals. This industry is challenging by nature, and so much is out of our control. The last thing we need to do is fall into habits that cause us to stay stuck.. If any of these resonate with you, consider switching things up in the new year.
You’ve thought about it, meditated on it, talked to trusted friends and advisors and even prayed. It’s clear. It’s time to part ways. The question is how? Here are a few simple tips to help make the breaking-up process professional and as painless as possible.
Stuck in an acting class cycle
What you’re doing: You’ve been taking classes at the same studio for a really long time. Sure, you’re honing your craft, but you don’t actually get out and audition. I see this all the time. Hard-working, smart, talented actors who’ve been in the same acting class with the same teacher forever but who haven’t added any new credits to their resume in just as long. .
Why this is a problem:
This is a business. You could be the most talented actor in the world. But if you’re not being seen by industry decision-makers, no one will know about your talent except for the peers in your class. And they likely won’t be the ones hiring you for your next network TV credit.
Acting and auditioning are completely different skill sets. Most actors starting out will spend more time interviewing for their next job (i.e. auditioning), than working acting jobs. Knowing this, shouldn’t it be important to hone those interview skills?
Acting classes cost time and money! Often, actors will pour so much into acting classes that they have no time and money left to make connections with people in the industry who can directly hire them. Marketing and networking are essential to create relationships that can take your career to the next level. Ignoring these two vital elements is a common cause of career stagnation.
Remember the old adage, “if a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If the only acting you do is in your class, can you really call yourself an actor?
Try this instead:
There are acting studios in LA that emphasize both the craft of acting and the technique of auditioning. Again, acting and auditioning are very different skill sets. If on-camera acting is new to you, research and audit classes that focus on how to audition and book. Scene study and cold reading classes are great, but they often don’t provide the skills an actor needs to win the job in the room against a bunch of other experienced actors in their category. If you’re stuck in an acting class that hasn’t helped you reach the next level of your career, try out a class that teaches techniques which will make your audition stand out in a sea of auditions and ace your next job interview.
Work marketing and networking into your time and budget by prioritizing only the classes you need to stay on top of your acting game. If you’ve been in class for a while and have confidence in your on-camera and auditioning skills, consider switching things up by just getting coached for auditions instead of paying for an ongoing class.
Lastly, no matter how great your acting class is, it’s always good to mix things up. So think about trying a brand new class that propels you outside of your comfort zone this year.
Stuck in a survival job with little flexibility
What you’re doing: Paying the bills! Of course this is important. But, as we all know, auditions come last second and can be tough to schedule.
Why this is a problem:
You’re passing up opportunities for career advancement by prioritizing a survival job you don’t ultimately want to be doing.
Agents may be more reluctant to pitch you if you’re frequently unavailable.
Auditions, either on tape or in person, may be of lower quality because you have less time to prepare.
Try this instead: While at your survival job, find and slowly move into a job that provides greater flexibility. Figure out what you’re good at and what works with your ideal schedule, and, in the era of gig economies, start building up a client base for your side hustle before quitting your survival job. Wean off unnecessary expenses. Ask actor friends for job recommendations. From catering, to acting jobs at theme parks, to dog-walking, online tutoring, and daytrading, there are plenty of options that can be very flexible and pay the bills for actors who may have to leave for an audition in the middle of the day. Some may just require a little training and a strong referral.
Stuck in the mindset of a struggling actor
What you’re doing: You keep telling yourself that art is struggle and you wouldn’t be an actor without grinding it out for years. You compare yourself to people who are more successful, tell yourself you’re not good enough, and question why you ever thought you could make this a career.
Why this is a problem: You’re the CEO of this company, the lead marketer, and head of the sales team. You are also the product. How can you convincingly sell a product to your buyers if you don’t believe in its inherent worth and value? How can a business succeed when the CEO makes decisions by assuming likely failure?
Try this instead: Instead of wasting your time with fruitless comparisons, learn from people who are more successful than you are. Often we see the same people at auditions. If there are a few actors in your category who frequently book the roles you audition for, where do they train? What skills or qualities do they have that make them uniquely appealing to casting and producers?
Work harder, not smarter. Invest in your education and learn business strategies that can help you connect with industry decision-makers. Not sure how? Check out our free Book TV/Film On Your Own class to help you leverage relationships to book the work you really want.
And most importantly, remember that you are more than your acting pursuits. Prioritize the things that make you happy in life, whether you feel they have a direct impact on your career or not. As actors, our personal and career lives are frequently intertwined. This is the most evident in our mindset. The stories we tell ourselves are derived from our everyday experiences, acting-related or not. Build in a community that is supportive, positive, and loving, and don’t be afraid to cut out relationships that trigger self-doubt. It’s not selfish to take care of your mental health and prioritize your own need for a positive atmosphere!
What other things do you resolve to stop doing in the new year? Share your ideas and resolutions in the comments below! I know you can do it. Here’s to a fresh new decade of career adventures, challenges, and wins!!