“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I will try to not take the cheap and cynical route by bashing New Year’s Resolutions right away.
There can be something powerful and even lasting in seeing a new year as a blank page; your decisions, actions and attitude the pen with which you write on this fresh, white space. The problem is, well…New Year’s Resolutions just don’t seem to take. Life happens.
Old habits overtake new intentions. By the end of February, all your shiny fresh ideas suddenly seem dull. Because look! Duck Dynasty is on!
While I believe this short-lived resolution phenomenon is universal, it is especially tragic for my friends that are hoping for a career in entertainment.
While the new year represents a fresh start for some, for the aspiring artist it may mark another year in which “it” didn’t happen.
Therefore, I am addressing you: the young actor, the college music major, the guy in his boxers spending 20 hours a day producing fantastic pop tracks. To you guys: what will you do differently this year?
Actually, let’s put that question off for just a moment. First, tell me: what would you have done differently last year? Where did you consistently fall short? How were your practice habits? Were you intentional with your diet/nutrition and explosive with your workouts?
Did you make the most of every moment, or did time seem to get away from you –day after day? Take a moment to identify specific areas.
Say them out loud. Or better yet, write it down. On the left side. Because when you write down your ideas on how to improve each weak point on the right side, you’ll have answered the original question. Do it. Stop reading this and do it.
OK whatever…do it later then. But get it done. And if you all were somehow able to share your lists, I’ll wager the similarities far outweigh the differences. They will include issues about time management, money allocation, body image and nutrition, and social/romantic missteps. Nailed it?
For my friends/students/clients (all one-in-the-same), here are a few things I’d like to see you work on starting now.
1. YOU BE THE “TIME BOSS”
I have petitioned for more hours in the day. Didn’t happen, not gonna happen. Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.
You don’t need more time; you need less stuff that doesn’t deserve your attention. First thing every morning, ask yourself, “What is the absolute most important thing I must get done today?”
It could be as simple as make a call, return an important email or text, something easy like that.
On a Saturday when you have no classes and aren’t scheduled to work, it might be to get your logo designed, get your car serviced, go shopping for the right groceries for the week ahead, etc.
And yes, sometimes it’s important to just chill out and watch some Harry Potter. But no sir/ma’am, you do not get to watch Harry Potter if you’ve still not written a song in a month, still haven’t even begun to seriously think through your brand, still haven’t studied up on how to market yourself, or haven’t been to a gym since the Clinton administration.
NO. You’ve got stuff to do.
2. SHOW UP
You’ve all heard me preach this before. Part of your job is to “show up.” Where? To writer’s nights, industry gatherings, social events where you’ll meet like-minded people. Go to concerts, and show up looking damn good. Show up looking like you sound; like your image, your brand. Show up to your friend’s shows, and try to bring your posse with you. Why would you expect peeps to show up to yours if you don’t support your peers?
3. GET IN SHAPE
Nope. Shhh. There are SO many things in this life that you can’t control, but this is completely in your control. NO. Stop talking. Yes it is. You can’t make Diane Warren give you songs. You can’t make Channing Tatum fall in love with you. But you can control what you’re cramming into your pie hole. You can find time in (nearly) everyday for a workout, even if it’s a shorty.
There are literally thousands of hopeful wannabes clamoring for the spotlight every day; many are taller, better looking, more talented, and more wealthy than you. With so many strikes against you that are out of your control, why deny yourself the myriad benefits of having a rocking body?? Can you name a few of these benefits?
Yeah…thought you could. If you really have no idea how or where to begin, hire a good trainer. No money for a trainer? You’re holding an $850 phone. Whatever. I’m telling you that “the package” is a very, very important part of this career you’re dead set on. Get a trainer. Ask a fit friend for help. Get some good info from a YouTube trainer. Just make it happen.
In addition to increased energy, looking awesome in (and out of) your clothes, and feeling great about yourself, looking “the part” can get you through the door. Then your awesome talent can blow the door off the hinges. Get it?
4. STEP UP YOUR GAME
Speaking of your awesome talent… I’m going to gander that most of you listening to my tirade now are what we call “singers.” Not musicians, not writers…”singers.” Do you know how many singers there are? Yeah, lots. Do you know how many singers there are that play an instrument REALLY well? Yeah, a few less.
Do you know how many singers there are that write incredible songs, can direct their own band rehearsals, can play a bunch of instruments really well, AND look rock hard sexy doing it?? Yup. Not that many. HEY! I have an idea: why not be one of those?? Too hard?? Awww…well so is being average. And yes, even if you are an incredible singer, you’re still one grain of sand on a vast beach, waiting for the sun to hit you just right so that someone will notice.
So step up your game this year. If you’re already in your teens or 20s, you’ll never play Rachmaninoff like a pro. But in a month, you’ll be able to play Wonderwall like a champ! Remember this: If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you will find an excuse.
5. THIS ONE’S UP TO YOU
Only you really know what you need to do to make it. You’re gonna have to search deep, grab the ugliest demon by the throat, drag his nasty ass into the light and look him in the face. What’s his name? How will you tell him he’s not needed anymore? If not this year, then when?
When will you get on top of your schedule, show up when you need to, get into the best shape of your life and step up your game? Yes, this one’s all on you.
“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else”.
– Yogi Berra
Now, if this little essay is just too much for you, you may want to consider another potential career. You may feel like you’ve just been yelled at, but you must know something: my own list is not so much different than yours. I hope you get some inspiration out of this, but I wrote it for me as much as I did for you. We’re all in this together; accountability is a powerful thing. You in? Good.
I may not know you personally, but I already love you. And no one this side of heaven will push for you and believe in you more than I do. I wish you peace, happiness purpose and most of all love in 2014. Be blessed.
James R. Wigginton
PS. If you’d like to download this blog, and print it out for a daily reminder, you can download a pretty PDF version here. Simply right click and ‘save-as’ to your desktop or any other location on your computer.