New Habits Over Time

Unmade Bed

I started blogging in 2009 but only started blogging regularly since May of this year.  Yippee!  Before I was consistently inconsistent and I had results that mirrored that.  It took a long time to develop this habit, years actually, but I’ve learned a lot along the way and pass it on to you so you can cut down the time this habit building process takes.  And like Oprah says, the one thing I know for sure is that starting is the easy part.  It’s the continuing that gets a little tricky.

How do you think your career would be impacted if you mailed regularly to your database of contacts informing them on the status of your career?  What gigs could you be in the running for if you consistently informed the folks that have already seen your work and acknowledged they enjoyed what you do, that you are available?  What if you did this as a habit and not just once in a while when the mood strikes?  There’s the time it takes to create a habit and once you’re habitual, the time it takes to reach your desires shortens.  I like the thought of that, don’t you?

I’ve learned from many of my mentors, and from my own experience, that starting small so I can win at whatever I take on is the key, not only for me but for everyone.  Designing something that I will do every day, especially when I′ve never done it before ever, is a set up for upset.  Many folks give up right away if they miss a day, kind of like a going off a diet.  They just simply quit.  But if you′re really committed, each day is a new day that provides an opportunity to begin again.  My commitment is to add to this blog a minimum of 6 to 8 times a month.  Just so its “out there”!

Anything new that we as actors want to include in our daily lives is going to be tough at first.  It takes time, right?  Where will you fit it in?  Did you read my last post?  Hint…the strategy there works!  Writing follow ups to meetings, sending headshots to prospective new agents, researching the casting directors of the shows we want to be in it is soooo easy to NOT do.  Saying we want to do these things, planning them, that’s all good.  However being in ACTion and having it become habitual is where the real juice lies and momentum takes over.

I recommend beginning the process of consciously creating new habits with something easy.  Tasks like making the bed every day at first may seem like a real chore.  Then with time, it′s almost just part of the daily activities and feels weird if it isn′t done.  It becomes missing from the routine.  Flossing, wiping the sink out after washing dishes, putting the lid down on the toilet seat are all good, small tasks you can begin with. Your process of consciously building habits is great to test out your new skill set with these simple household chores. 

My advice to any actors out there who have big dreams is to keep the faith and take small, consistent, habitual, winnable steps toward your goals.  New habits, done consistently over time equals success.

Keep the faith!  Having that faith is an amazing quality and I love being in this community where faced with rejection more than acceptance, we keep that faith in place.

I invite you to keep me on my toes and if I begin to slack off a bit on the posts, email me and say “Lisa, did you forget to post today? Where’s the juicy info, news, great biz tips”?  Let’s keep each other on track with our new habits, K?  

Your “Never Ending” To Do List

Yellow_To_Do_List2

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they are great and noble.”   Helen Keller

I love this quote and I love who it came from.  One of my FAVORITE things to do is cross things off my to do list.  And I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world who sometimes can get completely STOPPED because of the feeling of overwhelm.

In my last post I talked about the Time Trap and the desire of most actors to get what they want, like yesterday!  But if you’re anything like me, things are added daily to my never ending list that can often make my goals and dreams seem very far off indeed.  It’s an illusion of course and I’ve since gained a new perspective.

My perspective shifted greatly once I noticed a recurring theme with many of my coaching clients, that though progress is being made, it’s often overwhelming taking on new things and deciding what to do with what seems an expanding “to do” list.  Where to start, what to leave out, what’s a priority…how to fit it all in?

So I’ve got a really cool strategy for you that will make a HUGE difference, especially if you are one of the folks that have not been able to keep up with the “building” over time of performing multiple tasks.  This strategy will bring you focus and clarity on what to do, and more importantly what not to do.

Make a “to do” list.  EVERYTHING you have to do both personal and professional.  Things like: Make an appointment for the dentist; clean the bathroom; call 3 photographers, make appointments, choose one; wash the dog/car/clothes; write 5 postcards, travel to Australia, buy a Birthday card for Tom.  Call Joan about dinner on Tuesday.  Go on Actors Access and submit for some great auditions.  Pay bills.  Sign up for The Golden Circle (ha!, had to slip that one in!)

Everything goes on the list.  This will probably take at least 15 to 30 minutes or longer.  Then when you’ve emptied your brain of all that you have to do, more things will come up if you stay in silence and let them come.  Then write those things down too!

Next, divide this one huge list into 3 smaller lists:  The things you are never doing (at least right now), the things you are not doing (at least right now…this time frame being not within the next 4 to 6 weeks) and the things you are doing now.

The never doing now list contains items that if they never, ever got done, will not affect your life and goals in an adverse way…yet you may someday still want to do them.  For example, travel to Australia or re-paint the bathroom.

The not doing now list contains things that are definitely needed and wanted to accomplish, but again, won’t adversely affect you life or goals if they don’t happen outside of 4-6 weeks from now.

That leaves the “to do” list…things that if not attended to within the next month to 6 weeks, will adversely affect your life and goals.  These items should then be scheduled…actually pick a time and date and put them into your calendar.

So the things you’re doing now get put into your schedule, to be moved around if need be due to auditions, other opportunities, etc. but then get rescheduled, got it?

Once they are in your calendar/schedule you will have a clearer picture of accomplishing the things that are directly related to what you say you want.  For some this will be a huge accomplishment and breakthrough, for others, a review.  Either way, do it please!

“What you resist persists” – Anonymous

By the way, if you don’t use a calendar or schedule of some kind to keep track…GET ONE.  Honestly, you’re life will become much more manageable when you keep track of your appointments (especially the ones you make with yourself!)  Get started today.  It’s not too late, in fact, we have an opportunity to start newly every day

Enjoy marking those things off the list!  Ahhhhh, feels GOOD!

As usual, I’d love your comments or perhaps you have some tips about time you could share with the community.  Write them below now…don’t put this “to do” on your list!

5 Reasons Networking Isn’t Working for You

Networking

You hear and read repeatedly that networking is one of the best ways to grow your acting business not only from me but, well, everyone! It’s true and I have created many such networking opportunities/events over the years for actors to practice this essential skill.

However, sometimes even when you try, the time you spend on it doesn’t lead anywhere. Makes you wonder if everyone is lying (not me, of course!) or you’re doing something terribly wrong (hummm?). Networking IS a great way to grow your show BUSINESS, if you do it right. In my last post I gave out my top 10 tips on proper networking. So check out some reasons why what you’ve been doing may not be working for you, so you can make a change that will likely make a big difference.

You Don’t Talk to Enough People

Networking events are about meeting as many people as possible. I’ve often said to go with a number in mind.  How many people will you meet as your goal? You shouldn’t stay with one person too long because that will take away the time you have to meet other people that could lead to great opportunities. Make a connection, hand a business card to the person or collect their contact info, and then move on to the next person.  Don’t stay in a conversation with your friends instead of meeting the new folks you came to meet.

You’re Talking Too Much About Yourself

This is big one and I’ve seen way to many actors make this mistake. There’s a unique exchange of information that happens at networking events. The key is to LISTEN more than you SPEAK. This is how people find out if they can help each other. When you focus on yourself too much, you won’t be able to help people because you won’t know anything about them. By helping people I mean being the solution to their problem…a role that needs to be cast or an agent looking for new clients.  Sometimes it’s a fellow actor looking for a great acting teacher. The more you help, the more people want to help you.

You Don’t Do Your Research Before an Event

I usually put out a “scheduled to appear” list for my events. Why? So you can do your research!  Many actors who don’t find the Research ladyvalue in networking will say that they never meet anyone who is worth pursuing after an event. This is probably true because they didn’t do adequate research either before or after meeting people. You must find networking events that cater to the audience that you’re part of. If you’re also a writer, go to writing networking events.  Want to produce a film? There are a ton of filmmaker events.  And if you’re an actor, go to them all, but beware of ones that promise HUGE industry professionals as guests, without an entrance fee, free food and booze.  In a world where everything costs something, I smell a rat.  Get referrals and attend trusted events with good reputations.

You Don’t Reach Out After the Event

This is my biggest pet peeve. Just going to a networking event isn’t enough to grow your business as an actor. Showing up is one thing but following up is the key to the Kingdom. You need to make contact with people afterwards. This is your chance to get to know your contacts much better, and figure out how you can work together.  Staying connected is essential.  You might not work together for years, but if you have been building rapport with folks you met via networking, over time it’s amazing how much fruit your biz will bear.

You Don’t Go to Enough of Them

Going to one networking event won’t boost your business to the level you want it to be at. I used to run my parties monthly until I became bi-coastal and now run them only as special events when time permits.  Don’t wait for my party to come back to your neck of the woods (currently NY and LA). Those successful at using networking to grow their acting business will attend a few events a month.  They are much more common now then when I started producing them over a decade ago. The more you go to, the more opportunities are available. Before you say that networking isn’t working for you, make sure you are going to enough of them to make that judgment.

It’s time to make some changes in how you approach networking. Get out there, meet as many people as possible, help them, research the events you go to, reach out to people afterwards, and keep going to events until you start to see results. It can seem like a lot of work, but believe me, it’s worth it!

Let me hear from you in the comments section below about any results, relationships and other magical manifestations you’ve created from growing your network!

Your Roadmap to Success – Your Resume

It seems like it should be much easier to convey your artistry and skills as an actor than through the process of submitting a picture and resume online among hundreds, if not thousands, to even GET THE CHANCE to show what you’ve got in person to get work.  A lot has changed with technology and the primary use of the internet as a vetting process before you can show off that great talent of yours.

It used to be that your credits were confined to one single 8×10 piece of paper attached to your headshot (electronically or hard copy no matter), but even with online casting profiles being prevalent, no matter the format or delivery system, exactly what and how much to put on your resume is a topic of consternation, frustration and/or mystery.

So how do you inform the reader of your resume “at a glance” (’cause that’s what it’s gonna get at best in the rush of this biz) that you are the RIGHT ACTOR for the job?  Or, if wanting representation, what is your future talent agent or manager looking for (again quickly) that speaks clearly, concisely, and most importantly stands out and shows you off as as potential income producing possibility?

Most actors have been taught to list everything they’ve ever done on their resume…especially when just starting out. Then, when there are many credits to choose from, you can start eliminating some of them…but which ones?

I have news for you.  “They” are wrong.  When  looking for a guide, consider your resume to be road map.  Do you take out a map to see where you’ve been? (OK, there’s a few in every crowd!)  Or do you take out a map to see where you’re going?

The first thing to consider is that your resume is the road map to your success.  What kind of success?  YOU get to say, and that’s the beauty of  it.  Instead of putting every darned thing on it that you think someone might possibly be interested in, who needs an actor for any given project of any and every kind, what are the projects that you want to be in?

How about being the designer of your future success, and creating the resume that reflects that instead of confusing the reader of your resume.  They are always  looking for a specific kind of actor for a specific role or addition to their talent stable.  Honestly, you can’t be all things to all people as you’ll end up being nothing to no one.

The first step is to cut out all of the things you’ve ever done that don’t reflect what you can currently do (get cast in).  Take off all of those roles that no longer support your “brand” or archetype you’re most likely going to be paid to play.  You do like that word paid don’t you?

In show BUSINESS, your talent (the product) is purchased to fulfill a need (acting role) and this is not a one size fits all business.  What “size” are you?  You can’t be all of them (though your acting teacher told you you could – and that’s your problem!)

Figure that out first – what you have defined as the type/product you’re going to market and then your resume (brochure) reflects that!  Actors that do take the time and lay that groundwork initially make far greater strides faster than those who continue to insist on the ability to “be and do” anything.

What’s you’re take on the subject?  Still have point 8 type on your resume so you can fit it all on a page?  Still listing unknown directors?  Still have the starring role of Annie on your resume but you’re 28?  Stay tuned for more info in coming posts about everything that should and should not be on your RESUME!  Love your comments below as per usual!

5 Tips to Rock your Holiday Networking

Snowman-Happy-Holiday-CardThe holidays can be awkward, or you can make them into a huge opportunity by using this time as a platform to network. Most actors take a break or think of this time of year as slow. I say NOW is the time to ramp it up!

The holidays are here now and seem to come earlier every year! For some the dread is starting to set in. And no, I’m not talking about the awkward family gatherings with your fruitcake-wielding in-laws or being relegated to the kids table for a meal you’ve waited a year for.

For many of us, the real terror surrounds holiday networking. So if you’re currently stressing over whether you’re going to look like an idiot wearing a Santa hat or whether it’s appropriate to talk about your acting career at all, you’re not alone.

Oy, all these winter events you have to go to! There are soooo many parties and other opportunities to gather at this particular time of year, so when to go and when not to? Many of us would rather pretend to be sick and stay home drinking eggnog in a darkened room. But in actuality, this is the perfect time to get ahead. All these holiday parties are the prime time to make fresh connections and start the New Year off on the right foot.

Ken Rutkowski, host and president of the Business Rockstars radio show, is a networking veteran who has earned himself the reputation of “the super-connector.” I love finding great info and sharing it with you so please take Ken’s words to heart as if they were my own…because I’m in 100% alignment. Here are his top five tips to network yourself through the holidays.

1. Don’t look at it as “networking” 

View events, social and business as relationship building opportunities and don’t ever ask for money, a job, an audition or anything else for that matter. This is time to create and build rapport ONLY.

2. Pick the right events and be realistic

If the event is only for union members and you’re not one, then don’t go. If the event is at an agent’s office that you are not a client of, then don’t go. Seriously…find the FIT first. If you have a sinking feeling in your gut about attending, then the event is probably not right for you. Go to parties and events where you are certain you will be a part of the right crowd and go with the intention of meeting great people just like you!

3. Dress appropriately 

This is a big one. I can’t tell you how many actor events where I’ve seen pictures on line and say to myself, “Wow, don’t they have a mirror in their house?” At the same time, holiday flair is always a winner. Really know the crowd you’re going to be hanging out with. In general, don’t wear a suit and tie if the event is more casual and vice versa. But jeans with rips in them that look like they need a good wash is a no-no no matter how casual the event is.

4. Bring a wingman or wingwoman.

Two heads are better than one when it comes to meeting people. You’ll be able to cover more ground and have a fallback person to rendezvous with if you need a break. But don’t get stuck…meaning you have to go out on your own to meet new people. If you only end up talking to the person you came with you’ve missed the purpose entirely.

5. Make it about others

Ken became known as a “super-connector” because he was always introducing people to other people. People appreciate it when you do the networking for them. They come to know you as someone who is connected, and gets things done. Take on this role if you have met folks at your event who you think should also meet each other. You’ll be much more remembered by both of those people, especially if they hit it off.

These same tips can also be applied to family gatherings as well with a little tweaking. Not really excited to hang out with your spouses’ Aunt Millie twice removed? Try asking her questions that illicit stories that you could then use in your acting or writing class. You might even be surprised when Millie shares about her nephew the TV Exec who works at CBS…really? Really! Ask questions. That’s the key!

The holidays are an awkward time for almost everyone. Remember, we’re in this together. Stick to these five rules and get ahead this season!

The 5 Traits You Need To Succeed Financially as an Actor

Hard_WorkAre you still (or constantly) struggling to stay afloat? Could you use all the help you can get to build your financial foundation?  Are you practicing a starving artist mentality or an abundant artist mentality?  Read these integral traits you must have to be successful within your actor economy.  You may not possess all of the above traits just yet, but knowing them can help you make changes so that you nourish the ones that you have and go after the ones you’re missing.

1. Hard AND  Smart (not VS)

Creating financial abundance and staying out of debt rarely comes about without a lot of hard work.

Many actors might hope that winning the lottery will solve all their financial problems and/or winning the “big break” lottery of being a poor unknown actor one day and the next day starring in a TV series (MYTH).

The true path to financial freedom is to work hard to earn money, while constantly and consistently educating yourself to continue to have more value in the industry which will increase your salary.  This is a gradual process that you can easily accomplish with the right knowledge and tools.  Being smart AND working hard is what will get you off that “rat on a wheel” cycle of making money and then being broke (again, always…)

2. Goal-Oriented

I’ve said it so many times and I’ll say it again until you hear it to the bottom of your soul – most actors don’t plan to fail in this Goal Settingbiz…most actors fail to plan!  The importance of setting and working toward goals is obvious. If you don’t know where you are going, it’s difficult to get there.

This is just as important when it comes to your financial goals. If you have money goals and are motivated to reach the goals that you have set for yourself, it will naturally translate to your wallet in immense and immediate ways.

Those actors who lack financial goals and just declare “I just want to work; it doesn’t matter how much I get paid as long as I get paid” don’t have a road map to take them to the financial destination they want.

3. Risk-Taking

To build not only a solid financial foundation, but real wealth, one needs to be willing to take risks. This doesn’t mean un-calculated, uneducated risks. It means weighing all the options and taking risks when appropriate.

Everyone knows the stock market has risks involved, but over the long term, history shows that it provides good returns on money that is invested wisely. People who invest in the stock market do their homework and have educated themselves on the risk…or they have trust in someone else who has that education.

For an actor, knowing what to invest your money in, i.e. classes, coaches, marketing materials, etc. reduces your risk if you’ve done your research and gotten educated on the value provided. Those actors who fear risk altogether end up never investing in themselves in ways that could impact their career and would ultimately save them money in the long run.

curious+cat4. Curiosity

Being curious helps you learn, study and improve yourself.  My least favorite 3 words I hear actors utter are “I know that.”  There’s ALWAYS something to learn if you stay curious.

The curiosity of wanting to know more, to take the time to study and then take what is learned and put into practice is an important process that is driven by curiosity.  This leads to untold treasures and abundance, not only with physical dollars, but contacts, information, experiences and more.

5. Creativity

The work we do as actors providing our joyful self-expression, art and talent and our earnings don’t always match.

Unexpected obstacles and set-backs can mess with your financial plans. The film you got cast in lost its funding and won’t be completed or released (or pay you!); that “manager” collected the money for your work and went out of business; the class you paid high dollar for and expected brilliant teaching wasn’t all that. When this happens, changes are needed to deal with the new circumstances.

Creativity is essential to accomplish this.  I love this part of the energetic around money and finances because creativity allows you to make something good out of something bad or even when you don’t have the money to spend on what you’d like to invest in. It means juggling money to stay out of debt rather than simply paying with a credit card. It means bartering your value and skill set offering something for something.  It means figuring out a way by shifting from thinking “I can’t afford that” to “how can I afford that?”

Being creative plays a large part in keeping your finances and personal economy in order!  Seeing your ability to create in ways outside of actual acting will keep you interested and inspired around what you might have considered mundane or unimportant.  This stuff is just as, if not more important than the latest acting technique you learned.

STOP being a starving artist by adopting several, if not all of these 5 traits today!

Create a Powerfully Effective Vision Board for Your Career

visionboardFor those of you that truly know me well, you know that I’m a huge believer in the Law of Attraction.  One of my favorite tools to attract what I desire is though creating vision boards. Vision boards can and do work for those that do them right. But what does it take to create the ultimate collage of images that evokes the positive changes you want in life? Well, for one thing it takes a positive mind and for another, it takes a certain kind of technique.

When you get it right, a vision board will help you attract anything you desire as a result of the Law of Attraction. An audition, a great agent, that certain kind of resume building role…let’s take a look at how you can make your dreams come true with a vision board that inspires through evoking images.

Before You Begin Cutting and Pasting:

A vision board that is done right should include images that matter to you personally, not some general opinion of what people want for themselves. To get yourself in the right frame of mind for your search, do a little visualizing first. Think about how you your career to look EXACTLY.  Who are you with, what you want to have, where in the world are you and all of the things you want to accomplish. Write anything that really stands out on a notepad, creating a list of what matters to you. Dream big and don’t be doubtful. Realize that everything you want can come to you with the right attitude and serious focus.

Once you have finished your list, it’s time to find out what is missing. There will be pieces of your life that you left out without realizing it. In order to have a complete vision board that really says who you want to be regarding your career, don’t ever forget that acting is a part of your life…not your whole life.  What else you want also takes some serious soul searching. Think about every aspect of your life and be VERY specific.

Be Sure to Include:

  1. Acting career and other business goals
  2. Your idea of wealth and abundance
  3. Who you want in your life
  4. Where you want to live
  5. The things you want to do
  6. Your health and fitness goals
  7. The things you want to have most

When you have finalized your idea of the life of your dreams, it’s time to start looking for the images that match each desire. The images should make you go “awwwwww!” and “oooooooh!” and make you feel something strong emotionally. Don’t include images of things that don’t make you feel completely captivated as they won’t produce the right vibrational energy to attract the life of your dreams. You need images that will really power you up and create a positive energy that you feel in every cell of your body.

There are Two Main Ways to Find the Right Images:

Online – This is the best resource for finding those awe inspiring images that will kick your Law of Attraction journey into high gear. Simply type in the search what you are looking for and select from the entire results for your perfect image. A great way to do this is by using Google images to narrow down the results to pictures alone. It makes the treasure hunt a lot easier than clicking through links. Save all of your images to a folder and then print them out. Make sure you have color ink to get the most visual appeal out of your images.

In Magazines – If you have a wide selection of magazines to choose from and don’t mind cutting them into pieces, this can be a great way to find exactly what you are looking for. It might take a little more time, but it is a lot of fun. Bring out the collection of dusty magazines or ask for the old copies that others are throwing away. For those that have the cash to spare, try investing in a few specific types of magazines based on the images you want. Travel and automotive magazines are always a great place to start.

Add Positive Affirmations to Boost Effectiveness:

When you finish getting all of your images together for everything on your list, it’s time to boost their effectiveness with positive affirmations. For each image you want to include on your vision board, write down something short and to the point. You want it to affirm those things you want are on their way to you. Use the present tense as if they are already becoming part of your life.

Some Examples of Positive Affirmations Include:

  1. I travel to Los Angeles and enjoy a career in film and television
  2. The person of my dreams is coming into my life
  3. I am excited about getting my dream car
  4. I easily attract money like a magnet
  5. I am more physically fit and attractive with each passing day
  6. Every step I take brings me more success in my acting career

Each positive affirmation can be catered to your own personality. Get creative with it and add some humor, spirituality or inspiring quotes. Whatever makes you feel like nothing is stopping you from achieving all of your goals is what you should include. You can print the words out on paper and cut them out or get in touch with your artistic side and do your own bubble letters – whatever works best for you.

The Finishing Touches:

After you have finished cutting everything out, arrange everything so that the most important things are at the focal point, then place everything else around those. This can be done on a piece of poster board, magnetic surface or on a cork board. For a more permanent vision board use the poster board. If you are the kind of person that changes their mind often, use the magnetic surface or cork board. That way you can easily replace things as they are achieved or if you decide you want something else.

Glue, magnetize, or pin each image in place and take a step back to admire your masterpiece. It might not sound like much at this moment, but when you have it all finished and you are looking at it, you’ll know the great power it truly has over your positive energy level. With every look you will automatically recharge that motivation for maximum Law of Attraction magnetism.

How to Get the Most Out of Your New Vision Board:

Your vision board is complete and it looks amazing. However, if you don’t know how to use it you might as well have done it all for nothing. So though this is the very last step to creating a powerfully effective vision board, it is the most important step of all. You’ll need to make it work for you.

Here’s How:

1. Place it somewhere that you will see it daily. Make it a priority to just look at it without distractions for 5 minutes or so throughout the day. Set an alarm or work it into your break time. Just make sure you set aside at least 15 minutes daily.

2. Believe that every single thing on your vision board is a part of your life and that it is all on the way right now.

3. Imagine yourself as if you already have everything you see. Let the details of having what you want fill your mind and really feel what it’s like to live that life. Think about how grateful you feel for each and every one of those things.

4. Carry this feeling of certainty and happiness with you throughout each situation on a daily basis and watch as your reality transforms to match that of your vision board.

It’s amazing, it works and I have experienced this many times myself!  When all of your dreams have come true, be sure to practice gratitude for everything you have. If you feel really ambitious, set new goals with another vision board to lead the way!

The 80/20 Rule: AKA The Pareto Principle

You may have come to one of my live programs and heard me speak of the 80/20 rule.  I thought this brief explanation might help you continue to shape your 2014 so that you have the BEST take on how to spend your resources (time, energy and money) in support of your dreams and goals.

The 80/20 Rule is one of the most helpful of all concepts of time and life management. It is also called the “Pareto Principle” after its founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first wrote about it in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in his society seemed to dParetoivide naturally into what he called the “vital few”, the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many”, the bottom 80 percent.

He later discovered that in economics, virtually all activity was subject to this principle as well. For example, this principle says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results, 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales, 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits, 20 percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do, and so on. This means that if you have a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth five or ten times or more than the other eight items put together.

Number of Tasks versus Importance of Tasks

Here is an interesting discovery. Each of the ten tasks may take the same amount of time to accomplish. But one or two of those tasks will contribute five or ten times the value of any of the others.

 Often, one item on a list of ten tasks that you have to do can be worth more than all the other nine items put together. This task is invariably the one that you should do first.

Focus on Activities – Accomplishments will Come

The most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex. But the payoff and rewards for completing these tasks efficiently can be tremendous. For this reason, you must adamantly refuse to work on tasks in the bottom 80 percent while you still have tasks in the top 20 percent left to be done.

Before you begin work, always ask yourself, “Is this task in the top 20 percent of my activities or in the bottom 80 percent?”

The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you will be naturally motivated to continue. A part of your mind loves to be busy working on significant tasks that can really make a difference. Your job is to feed this part of your mind continually.

Getting Motivated

Just thinking about starting and finishing an important task motivates you and helps you to overcome procrastination. Time management is really life management, personal management. It is really taking control of the sequence of events. Time management is having control over what you do next. And you are always free to choose the task that you will do next. Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key determinant of your success in life and work.

Effective, productive actors discipline themselves to start on the most important task that is before them.  As a result, they accomplish vastly more than the average actor and are much happier as a result. This should be your way of working as well.

I wish you much success in your journey.  May it be fun, fruitful, and always spent engaging on the things that lead you to your greatest dreams and desires!  Lisa

Taking Aim – What if You Miss?

Every actor has a dream for themselves and their career. And a goal, after all is a dream with a deadline.  I find it ironic how so many people on the “talent” side of the industry are full of hopes, wishes and dreams, but rarely set goals.  Like shooting an arrow at a target, you have to have something to aim for.

But what if you miss?  In my acting career of over 34 years and my business of show career as a consultant and seminar leader, I find THIS to be the most prolific part of what keeps actors treading water, standing still, and generally not getting as far as they’d like.  It’s got nothing to do with talent and everything to do with taking aim at something concrete and measurable.  You don’t want to miss (fail, fall short, etc) so you rarely set short-term, realistically achievable and measurable goals.

The thing that’s interesting about aims is that even though they’re not hard at all, many times we don’t stick to them 100%. To be totally candid here and call myself out, I grapple with this same issue.  An effective aim is intentionally designed to stretch you outside your comfort zone, and though Act Outside the Box as a company is completely designed intentionally for this purpose, heck…well, I’m only human too!

So I offer you a VERY important point about this concept:

There’s no way for an aim to “go wrong.” See, taking an aim is always a win-win situation.

Here’s why…

Let’s suppose you stick to your aim for the entire time you targeted. By doing this, you will have developed power around your intention. The result will be that you can achieve more, faster in your career (and life in general), including taking more challenging aims in the future. You’ll develop habits around taking action in the areas that mean the most to you and the payoffs can be sweeeeet!

But what if you’re like me and are “hit and miss” with sticking with your aims?

How can that be a good thing?

Here’s how…

When you take an aim, your conscious and subconscious mind go on “hyper alert.” You become significantly more aware of this particular intention you’ve set forth. And when you declare it publicly (like I do and recommend), you’re paying even more attention.

When I work with my AAP clients, we set weekly goals and make promises around actions.  Very few of my actor clients accomplish all of the weekly tasks designed to move them forward, but that’s OK…they are AIMING, hitting some, missing others and
their increased state of awareness enables them to notice things they wouldn’t normally notice.  Lessons are learned, corrections are made, and in general, the actors I work with are HAPPIER with the process of attaining their dreams because they are on purpose and on track to realizing them.  All because they’ve set smaller specific and measurable goals.

When you begin to notice your aim more clearly, your own awareness extends to all aspects of your life, not just your acting career. You’ll notice a lot of things more fully and frequently.

And when you don’t stick to an aim, you’ll notice it too…

You’ll eventually (with practice) become naturally curious and question why you were unable to stick to such a “simple” and “easy” goal that you know is possible for you to attain. That curiosity will lead you deeper into yourself, and ultimately, enable you to uncover whatever blockages were preventing you from sticking to that aim.

For every aim I’ve missed, I’m deeply grateful…

Each aim I’ve missed has shown me aspects of myself I would have not seen otherwise…

Each aim I’ve missed has helped me take one step closer towards living my ideal life…

And each aim I’ve missed has helped me become more of the person I am.

Since I like me, I see that as a good thing. 🙂

One of the most powerful practices I know for changing your career is when we take aim at something. I’ve often said “most actors don’t get what they want, because they don’t know what they want.” Simply put, choosing a short-term, realistically achievable goal with an end date can be a challenge in and of itself.

As many actors as there are in this business, there are even more possible aims that can be taken. Remember though, it is imperative that an aim be realistically achievable. The intention is not to create a huge challenge, but rather, a challenge that is just slightly outside your comfort zone.

It’s also important to put an end-date on your aim. This kind of specificity will help ensure your success.

So with that in mind, here’s an exercise for you to try…

  1. Write down 5 aspects of your career you’d like to see improvement in.
  2. Next, prioritize them in order of importance.
  3. Pick the most important one and decide what you will do, how frequently you will do it, and for how many days or weeks you’ll take that aim.
  4. Lastly, declare your aim to at least one other person.

My recommendation is actually to declare it to as many people as is realistically possible. If you’re feeling courageous, or you really want to get moral support to achieve your aim, consider posting it on Facebook or by commenting on this blog.

If you’re really out to achieve some magnificent goals in the coming year, I’m available to support you via my AAP program.  To your success, Lisa

7 Ways to Make Cover Note Writing More Fun and Easy

As much as we want the reader of our cover note/letter to “get us” and call us in for an audition or possible representation, for many actors writing the cover note/letter is a chore.  Here’s 7 ways to put some joy into your fingertips.

1. Take a few minutes to write about what’s on your mind first. When you sit down to write, clear away anything that’s floating around in your head by writing about it. Is your acting class a drag, your next door neighbor cute, your mailman creepy, your coffee delicious? Not only does writing about these things help get them out of your head, but you easily and naturally get into the flow of writing.

2. Write from a picture that inspires you. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Take any picture that relates to your goals and dreams and use it as your inspiration. Meryl Streep your favorite actress?  A beautiful house on the beach where you’d like to be?  Someone walking the red carpet? What about the picture of the actual industry professionals are writing to?  Google images is a wonderful resource…find them, then either print them out or have them on your computer screen as you begin your note/letter.

3. Use a writing prompt. In grade school, teachers used written exercises to get students writing. You can easily create a prompt by imagining you’re in the office of the person you are writing to and that they are asking about YOU and what you offer.  Then write your answers as you would speak them out loud. One of my favorites is, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” You could also respond to the prompt of “Who else in the industry knows your work?” Just respond to the prompt, and see what comes of it. Like using a picture, this technique opens another door in your mind that allows you to think differently, and perhaps see options that weren’t there before to include in your note.

4. Just get it out. Remember that the first draft of anything written is NOT going to be perfect, so have fun with it! There’s no reason to struggle over your exact phrasing or sequence when you’re just going to go back over it and edit anyway. Stop critiquing your work so much, focus on getting the idea out, and play with the words

5. Try emulating an actor you admire. Think about why you like his/her work and then model what they might say in a note.  Does he/she write and speak beautifully?  Does he/she entertain when being interviewed on Letterman? Many actors have authored books and articles and post on the internet and have a great way with words.  By pinpointing the things that you like you are able to bring these elements into your own writing.

6. Write out your plan first. It’s easier to outline what you’re going to write about rather than the actual writing of it.  Are you going to write a quick note with bullet points of recent projects?  Are you introducing yourself with a letter that includes reviews and bio information?  How much is too much and how much is not enough? By planning first, you get more excited about the task, spurring the birth of more ideas. It also helps if you remember WHY you’re writing in the first place.  What’s the ultimate outcome you want to produce?  What exact ACTion on the reader’s part do you want them to take?

7. Reward yourself. This is a huge one! After writing out your plan, decide when and how to reward yourself. For example, after writing 6 cover notes/letters you can go out and get yourself a treat (whatever it is that makes you happy). Not only does this serve as inspiration to get those notes finished, but by rewarding your own successes you are establishing an invaluable system that can only generate more success!

Take these tips and try them out for yourself. See which ones work for you, and toss out the ones that don’t. And remember, when you’re frustrated or things aren’t flowing, let yourself laugh, and breathe.

I’d love to hear from some of you any tip, tricks, or techniques that you use to accomplish the “task” of cover note/letter writing.  Please share them with the rest of our community by posting a comment!  To your success, Lisa