I’ll never forget reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and realizing I had been very successful… while standing in my way at every major turn. I wrote about that realization and talked about how shocking it is, when a mirror is the answer to what’s not working.

So many actors talk about what’s not working as if it’s stuff outside their control: “I don’t have good headshots, so I’m not submitting myself.” “I can’t choose which headshot to use from all these proofs the photographer sent over, so there’s nothing to put up at Actors Access.” “I can’t get footage from anything I shoot, so I have no reel.”

But I’ve written before about the easiest ways to tune up your tools, so that stuff is easy. Great headshot? Beautifully formatted resumé? Fantastic cover letter? On-brand website? Outstanding demo reel? You can fix all of that.

I’ve also covered the lies we like to tell ourselves about the way the industry keeps us down. “It’s slow.” “I’m too old.” “My agent never submits me.” “There are no auditions for my type.” “That casting director hates me.” Almost never a fact about how things really are.

So, let’s say you’ve come to the realization (and YAY, you, for admitting it) that YOU are your own worst enemy. That everything that’s NOT working in your career is allllllllll on you. That your small market mentality is what’s keeping you from being able to transition to a major market. That your desperation is what’s keeping you from saying NO to work that should no longer be a part of your life. That your certainty that there’s this magic thing that happens when you sign with an agent (any agent) is what got you tied to the skeeviest of bottom-feeders because you figure, “Hey, at least SOMEONE is submitting me,” rather than owning up to the fact that you could — and should — do better.

Okay, so how do we get to fixing this mess?

It starts with choosing your level of damage, with this. I once said to a private coaching client of mine, “We’re all broken. It’s a matter of being small broken or big broken. Choose.” We do get to choose.

There comes a day when you say, “Yeah. Today. Today’s the day I’m done with copy-credit-meals projects.” Not because you’re “better than” CCM projects, but because you have enough of those under your belt. It’s time to start getting paid, rather than being the highest-quality unpaid actor out there. Same with joining the union, after you’ve remained eligible forever. Eventually, you pony up the initiation fee and make it official. You’re in the big leagues. You’re willing to say NO to nonunion work.

There comes a time when you’re willing to NOT be represented, rather than hanging out with a spaghettislinging agent who is nowhere close to a hell yes. You realize your hustle is more valuable than the sense of complacency that comes from having someone’s logo on your resumé. It’s all mindset, at this point, and you’re ready to grok that having your mind RIGHT is a bigger factor in your success than those perfect headshots or that gorgeous demo reel.

Where are you, right now?

Who is in your way? If it’s you… um… you know how to get that situation FIXED, right? You just have to make it a part of your routine *every* day to build the muscle that chooses “smaller broken.” And eventually, you’re broken no more. Own up to the places you PLAY SMALL. And stop that. If you’re ready. 😉 (It’s totally okay to be not-yet-ready, too.) But be honest with yourself. When no one else is watching, where are you making choices that keep you playing small? And who are you serving by doing that?

Certainly not yourself. What you’re doing is standing in your own way. Doesn’t your life’s dream deserve better? Of course it does. Make some tough choices. It’s time!

REMINDER: I mentioned last week that we’ve launched the campaign to keep Self-Management for Actors in print, as it enters its 4th edition. We are very close to the half-financed mark! Hooray! Please, if the book has ever helped you, you can help us keep it available by sharing this link today. Yeah, yeah, donating is great too, but spreading the word is truly helpful. Thank you!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001721.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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