Act Smart!: Mid-year reboot rules

Remember January? How a-flush with excitement you were about this new year and all the great stuff you were going to do with it? Yeah. Me, too. Funny how six months of work, study and grinding everyday-ness can chip away at your enthusiasm.

If you’re looking for a way to re-infuse yourself with enthusiasm, kick-start a project or just inspire yourself to go back and tackle the list you started out with this year, read on…

Everyone’s problems are different, yet at the heart of them, everyone’s problems have some similarities. We’re all “stuck” in some way or another: either external circumstances or internal resistance gets in the way of us getting things done.

For example, I’ve been struggling with writing a book for over a year now, if not more. Embarrassing, right? RIGHT. So I took myself through a modified version of the process below and have started to get myself back on track. You’re probably not interested in writing a book, so I’ll use a more classic, actor-related question that comes up again and again: how to get a website up.

The problem

You swore that this year you were going to get that website up and running. Now you’re six months away from your promise and no closer to being online. What do you do RIGHT NOW?

The solution:

1. Brainstorm what’s stopping you from doing it. Are you afraid of the Internet? Do you not know where to start? Have you not organized your materials (bio, pix, resume, reel)? Are you broke? Are you scheduled tighter than the President with far less support staff?

Literally write down all of the reasons you suspect (or know) you either haven’t done anything, or if you started, the thing(s) that hung you up.

2. Next, consider what will be different/better about your life if you have a website. In other words, what problems will this website be solving? Will it be “making me feel like a legitimate actor” or “getting my agent off my back” or “giving me a place to start sending people to see my stuff”?

Please note that there can be multiple reasons for wanting or needing to do something; what’s important is that you are self-aware. Don’t judge right now, just collect data from your brainpan.

3. Now that you have a clearer idea of the “why” behind your website–or, to put it another way, what you’re expecting that website to do for you–you can go about breaking down your big problem (WEBSITE…OH, NO!) into smaller, more manageable chunks.

For example, if you are broke and you cringe at the thought of trying to “DIY” it with spit and code, you know that you need to create a fund so that you can pay someone else to do it. Backing up from there, you’ll note that you need to do some research on how much websites cost, which could mean anything from consulting the Google to asking every friend of yours where they got theirs done, what the process was like, and how much it cost.

If, on the other hand, you’re web-savvy and you just want something up there but you haven’t been able to do it because your bio stinks and your headshot is 10 years old, you know that the first order of business is to take care of those things. Or, if you have a stellar headshot and bio and mad coding skillz but you spent more time with your XBOX than WordPress, you may need an accountability partner to keep you on track…or you may want to fork over the dough to hire a designer anyway.

Apply as needed

I’ve used “launch actor website” as my example, but sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that the basic steps for self-correction when you get off-track with goals, projects or other Big & Gnarly items are amazingly applicable across the board. The steps in chronological order:

  1. Recognize where you are.
  2. Figure out where you want to be get to.
  3. Plot out action steps to get you from 1 to 3.
  4. Execute until you get to #2, or until you get stuck again.
  5. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Those five steps include a lot of other possible mini-steps in between, like finding the right help, support and resources to keep on keeping on. Most of the heavy lifting I do as a teacher and consultant is in helping people with the first three steps, although I’ve hired people at every step: a shrink might help you with steps #1 & 2; a coach, with steps #3 – 5.

Other folk who might help in the #4 phase could be “personal trainer,” “nutritionist,” “voice coach,” or whatever your particular circumstances require: a mastermind group, an exercise buddy, a guru…you name it, the help is out there.

Try applying the steps above. See what happens. And hey, let me know if you have a particular condundrum you’re stuck with or in where you can’t see how the above list doesn’t apply.

Maybe I’ll address it as a future column. Or maybe I’ll discover that my own process could use a little of step-i-fying itself.

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Want more?

  • Check out the acting resources page. It’s got links out to all kinds of good actor resources, plus information on how to sign up to get on the list for upcoming workshops.
  • Sign up for my monthly newsletter. One killer article on some facet of good communication with easy-to-apply tips, plus a few cool tools I’ve found in my travels. If you want first pick of upcoming seminars, offers and other actor-related stuff, this is the list to get on.

Colleen Wainwright is writer-speaker-consultant who started calling herself “the communicatrix” when she hit three hyphens. She spent a decade writing commercials and another decade acting in them for cash money. Now she uses her powers for good and not evil by helping actors and other good, hard-working people with a dream to uncover their unique fabulosity and get it out there in the world.

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