A lot of folks recommend New Year’s resolutions. I’m not one of those people. For most, New Year’s resolutions become a list of “ways I failed” a few months into the year. Also, New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on the “don’t wants” of people’s lives.
“Lose weight” (because you don’t want to be as heavy as you are now), “stop smoking” (because you’re addicted), “get a better agent” (because you’re not clicking with your current one), and “do more paid acting work” (because you’re unhappy with how many freebies you did last year) are all “don’t wants” disguised as goals that depend on your resolve. And if I know anything for sure, it is that what you focus on you attract to you. The idea of creating and then putting your attention on a list of “don’t wants” seems like about the worst use of energy I can think of.
What I do instead is create a list of things, people, experiences, opportunities, feelings, etc., that I’d like to invite into my life for the new year. I know, I know… some of you may think that’s still a list of “don’t wants,” but I assure you it is not. “Lose weight” indicates that something is wrong with the current weight, right? “Excellent health” is an invitation for that state to exist. It doesn’t command that you do something (“lose”) about a negative state (“excess weight”) or even judge your current condition! It simply exists as an item on your “Welcome 2007” list, irrespective of your starting point, feelings about that starting point, or any “struggle” that you may have had in the past with similar goals. Got it? Good. Let’s shift the focus to actor-related goals and how you can create your best actor year yet!
Why “Don’t Wants” Are Important
Now, before you go calling me a hypocrite just three paragraphs into this week’s column, let me qualify that header. “Don’t wants” are important because the only way to be certain of what you want is to be equally certain of what you don’t want. So, I definitely value that list of old-fashioned resolutions simply because it gives me a starting point for examining what didn’t work (and therefore, what is no longer welcome in my life).
What don’t you want? Unpaid acting work? A “sign ’em and shelve ’em” agent? Stagnation in acting class? A resumé with no meaningful credits? Okay, good. Easy list.
Now, never focus on anything that’s on that list. In fact, you’re going to use it to create your “Welcome 2007” list and then burn it! Look at it this way: Your current state is the result of your past thoughts, actions, and focus. If you want the same results, keep thinking the same way, keep doing the same things, and keep focusing on the “don’t wants.” By instead using that list of “don’t wants” as a means of generating your new list, you leave those “don’t wants” behind. (And I mean it. Never think of that stuff again. And don’t keep the “don’t want” list.) Don’t believe this is important? That’s okay. Do it anyway. What do you have to lose, choosing to try a new way of thinking? Only if you can say — without exception — that you are 100% thrilled with exactly how well you attracted everything you wanted in 2006 are you excused from trying this out.
When you’re creating your “Welcome 2007” list, get very specific. If you have met an agent who you know could take your career to the next level, “Professional relationship with agent so-and-so” goes on your list. If you’re a visual thinker, find a photo of that agent and tack it up on a corkboard next to your list. And every day, when you review your list and see your various goal images, say, “Welcome! I enjoy working with you.”
I know this may seem like a small detail, but it’s an important one: Keep that statement in the present tense. Say, “I love my headshots. They are very effective!” and, “My work in acting class is outstandingly good.” Wishes, goals, and future-tense affirmations are fine, but present-tense statements become truths much faster. Don’t believe me? Watch The Secret; read Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting; or listen to inspirational speeches by your favorite world leaders. People who are experts at manifesting what they want in their lives tend to be very specific and speak about their wants as if they already exist. (Of course, Negative Nellies who lament their status or bitch about their lot in life speak in the present tense too… but they are listing “don’t wants” and, sure enough, they attract more of the same into their lives.)
It is very important, when building your “Welcome 2007” list, to be certain that you’re focusing on your goals rather than someone else’s goals for you. This is especially tough for actors, whose goals are often a mix of their own desires and random benchmarks for success created by others (family, friends, representatives, peers, and coaches). Because you will be inviting these things into your life, it is essential that your list reflect what will make you happy, even if it isn’t your family’s definition of success for you. Think of any bitter actors you know who seem to have everything yet who still bemoan their status. They’ve done great work manifesting goals that others had for them.
Me? I’d rather be happy.
Be Grateful for What You Already Have
One of the cornerstones to the Law of Attraction is gratitude. Not gratitude for what you will have or gratitude for how good things are going to be, but gratitude for exactly what is working in your life right this instant. There are going to be times when gratitude is tough. That’s when you must cultivate a practice of having an “instant gratitude state” that you can pop into at any time. Try coming up with an easy “thing” for which you are grateful.
When I decided to test this out, I chose hummingbirds. I love them. I think they’re precious. My mother used to birdwatch and her favorites were always the hummingbirds. She would call me into her office from my teenage bedroom to make me ooh and ah over these things. Of course, that’s now a great memory for me, but when you’re doodling your boyfriend’s name all over your jeans you can’t be bothered to leave the room to go see some bird, right? Anyway, I decided that I was always grateful for hummingbirds. They brought my mother joy in the very simplest way and, as an adult, they always reminded me of my mother, who had since passed away. So, when I needed to be grateful for any reason, I would visualize a hummingbird, happily buzzing around a feeder or bright flower. Suddenly, I began noticing hummingbirds everywhere. Where were these things coming from? It was the dead of winter and there were no flowers or feeders anywhere, yet I would go to the mailbox and be buzzed by a hummingbird! I would leave a casting session and see two hummingbirds chasing each other overhead. On vacation, I would take a walk through the desert trails and spot a hummingbird momma feeding her baby hummingbirds in a tiny nest, right on the arm of a cactus!
All of this to say: Gratitude is a hugely important component to attracting what you focus on. So, once you test this out with something small and “easy,” your confidence in this part of the recipe will swell. You’ll begin feeling gratitude for the agent you do have, all the submissions she’s doing on your behalf, all of the pitch calls her team makes for you, and the high-quality meetings she’s bringing in for you. And by staying focused on those “Welcome 2007,” present-tense truths with a priority on being grateful for them all, you’ll see a measurable spike in the quality of meetings that begin to come through your agent.
On the other hand, staying pissed because your agent “never does anything” will absolutely guarantee that that exact state remains for you. The instant you feel yourself judging something negatively, stop, turn that judgment into a simple observation (with no attachment to it), and then go to that “instant gratitude state” so that you can get back on track.
Give Freely of Yourself and Your Talent
Abundance is a beautiful thing. Perhaps my favorite part of abundance is that the more you dip into the well, the more it overflows with goodness for everyone. I’ve often been asked about the Showfax policy on keeping these columns free, archived, and searchable (like, “Couldn’t Showfax make money off actors if it charged for access to your older columns?”). The answer to that is, “Sure… I guess. But why make that choice? Why not instead build an essential and well-worn library of free information?” I’ve also been asked why I give away information (here, in my blog entries, on message boards, at seminars, by giving out free copies of my books at certain speaking engagements, etc.) when I *obviously* could sell more books by making them the only source for what I have to say.
Are you kidding me? The more good, free info I put out there, the more books I sell! Also, the more accessible I am as a casting director, the better casting jobs I get!
The same is true for actors. Ask any working actor whether they got PAID work from that “freebie staged reading” they did as a favor last year and they’ll tell you that’s the case. Being seen as a working professional invites more demand for you as a working professional. Sure, you have to be smart about your choices — especially as demand for your time gets higher — but the spoonful of good, free work you put out there only serves to replenish the well with gallons of good, paid work to follow.
Act “As If”
Surround yourself with positives. Invest in relationships with those just above your tier as an actor while continuing to mentor those who are just starting out. Don’t get stuck in a peer group that you may have outgrown. Sure, it may be comfortable, but did you choose to pursue this profession to be comfortable or to take great risks, stretch yourself professionally, and succeed?
The “how” is never as important as the rest of this formula. Quite frankly, “how” someone makes it is irrelevant when compared to that someone makes it. Note: This does not mean you have permission to slack off on goal-setting, working on your craft, or pursuing meaningful gigs and solid relationships! What I’m saying is that you will — while focusing on your “Welcome 2007” list overflowing with gratitude — begin to observe changes for the better. Stopping to examine how these things happen slows the process. And haven’t you been waiting long enough already for results?!?
One of the coolest parts about being an actor (or any creative person, really) and following these steps is that actually feeling the results before they’ve manifested is easier for creative people than for the rest of the folks out there in the world. Actors really can make themselves feel something before it exists, since they do it every day in acting! Embrace this shortcut in the Law of Attraction and be grateful that you are already wired for manifestation of feelings upon command. The more clearly your focus on this, the faster your results will come.
Finally, I’m going to recommend that you work at becoming your own biggest fan. This is not about being conceited! It’s about showing the world that you value your gifts. And what is valued by one soon becomes valued by others. Show business is filled with examples of that truth.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000654.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.