Your Craft, Your Career, And How To Make It All Fun Again

I’m assuming you didn’t get into acting to be famous (because let’s face it; if you want to be famous, there are plenty of easier ways to do that, from eating bugs and shooting your nuts off to making a sex tape or denying marriage licenses to gay folks). You got into acting because you love the craft and you hope to make a living doing it.

What you didn’t know was that craft and career are two different things. In one hand you hold your craft, the creative spark that fulfills you. In the other hand is your career, the thing you aspire to achieve. You hope that your career and your craft will intersect… that they will thread fingers together like a romantic couple. And maybe they will. But most of the time they shift in and out, coming together and releasing like an on-again, off-again Hollywood relationship.

Both craft and career deserve equal attention. But too often your career eclipses your love of the craft. As you puuuussssshhhhhh to check all those business goals off your list, your craft sits neglected in a corner, sad and droopy, like a kid with a deflated balloon.

When you focus solely on your career, acting is no longer fun. Instead of enjoying every chance you get to play a character and be in the moment, your experience is clouded by what it might do for your career. For instance:

Auditions are only about booking the job or the room. Workshops are only about making a connection so that you get an audition. Plays, videos, short films are just opportunities to entice industry folks who will get you auditions, so you can book a “real” job. When you finally get on set, it’s exciting, but you focus on just getting your lines down and blasting out on social media in the hopes that it will lead to another audition or booking.

What used to be a free, creative playground has turned into a career ladder. So now all you’re doing is trying to climb… or at least hold on, white knuckled, until the elusive “success” is achieved.

But without the exhilaration of acting what is the point?

It’s time to reclaim the playground of your craft.

Don’t wait for someone to hire you to be creative. Build your own playground. Look at all the ways you could be playing:

  • classes
  • living room script readings with fellow artists
  • writing scripts
  • community events/actor co-ops
  • going to movies/plays/film festivals
  • reading scripts of favorite movies/tv shows
  • 30 auditions in 30 days (pull scripts off the web and tape yourself with a friend)
  • free writing
  • do The Artist’s Way by yourself or in a group
  • artist dates (see Artist’s Way)
  • imagination exercises
  • vines
  • create & produce web series or short films
  • join a theater company
  • start a book, movie, or script club
  • auditions – yes, especially these. Don’t let career body check creativity to the sidelines as you focus on getting the job (and end up in your head).

Your job is to have fun acting no matter what room you’re acting in.

At the end of the day, if you stay creatively active, you will have fed your creative soul. All those business goals – goals you should aspire to but not hang your hat on – will have either come or not come or come and gone. But regardless what shape your career takes, you will have always enjoyed doing the thing you love.

So when the industry chases it’s tail or gives you a backhanded slap – when you don’t book the role because you’re too tall, short, blond, brown, muscular, flabby, young, old, wise, vulnerable or because you look just like the director’s ex-wife – you will still have the fulfilling experience of collaborating with other artists. You will excite each other and create your own projects. Not booking the job won’t matter because you will have enjoyed your time on the playground.

Okay, yes, it will matter. You’ll be bummed, you really wanted the part, you knew you were perfect for it. You’ll complain to your hubby or your best friend. it might sting a bit. BUT if you really enjoyed your play time, your creative time, your collaboration time, your craft, your in-the-momentness – and if you know you have more creative time coming up – it will sting much, much less. And you’ll get over it much, much quicker.

It’s play time!

Why Career Path Counseling?

In 1991 I took my first “calculated” career leap from practicing vocational rehabilitation counseling to career counseling. After my son was born, I took a ten year “hiatus” to create KidzArt, an acclaimed International Art Franchise. It is often said that many of us return to our first career path when we get “older”. When I became obsessed with KidzArt’s success, I had to take a step back and reassess my goals. In doing so, I realized that my true career is and always has been career path counseling.

With my Treasure Map in hand, I knew that career counseling would incorporate many of my preferences for doing work that I love using the skills I love to use – working with motivated people who are confused and want/need direction. As an educator, my job now is to provide valuable information about the importance of seeking career counseling before making any career-related decision. The truth is that this work is really essential to helping anyone, particularly in today’s media-rich, recession-focused society. Taking steps toward ultimate career satisfaction will not only bring a joy-filled life, but puts you heads above any competition that you “think” is stopping you. Armed with a Roadmap and new found confidence in your career direction, you can beat the odds in ANY job-related climate.

Here are some reasons why you may want to consider one on one or group career path counseling:

*You seek medical help when you’re ill; you go to a counselor when you need a mental health check-up; when your car’s sick, you see a mechanic, and on and on. So why not use the same self-care toward the development of your personal career path. The result: doing a a lifetime of work that is fun, exciting, fulfills your mission, is purposeful, rewarding and financially satisfying.
*Navigate career-related information via media, internet, social media, with ease.
*Overcome the “Safekeeping Self” who keeps you stuck in jobs and careers that just don’t work, no matter how hard you try.
*Develop Roadmap to confidently take the next step on your true path.
*Receive unbiased support to stay on the path and focused on determining your true career direction.
*Explore career options and overcome blocks to success while staying true to yourself and accountable.
*Strategize realistic options with a trained professional who asks the right questions at the right time and allows you to discover and digest the answers at your own pace.
*Craft a college major that really works to your benefit to learn new ideas AND gain important lifelong skills, while developing your career path.
*Have FUN, be confident and prepared for the journey.
*Receive professional guidance, human connection, support, wisdom and action plan from a wise source.
*Receive support to stay on track until you reach your first goal.

I recently met with a mother and son who own a fairly successful business. The mom told me that her parents spent thousands and thousands of dollars more on her education than was necessary because she didn’t have any understanding of who she was and where she wanted to go before changing majors several times and attending very expensive private colleges. She told me that her parents would gladly have paid a professional to work with her to help her focus on a few areas, explore those areas one-on-one, and learn more about herself and what really makes her happy before launching into several majors that she could not leverage later on, had they known. The cost of professional career counseling is a fraction of what it cost her in frustration and debt incurred by her parents.

The following are just a few more reasons why career path counseling can be compared to preventative medicine and what a difference it can in the bigger picture.

*Provides clarification of possible directions by taking a confusing and somewhat ambiguous process and putting a structure to it. It is short term v. long term, and within two months or less, you will know what to do next. Your counselor is your guide in this process, providing feedback and helping to navigate the waters of all the possible choices out there, and always coaching you to see the patterns and to take them seriously, becoming your voice of reason – or career alter ego.
*If you are a “Jack of all trades and master of none, career path counseling can get to the heart of what’s preventing you from making a choice to pursue one avenue and to stick with it. Or, to move on.
*If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and not much patience (no labels here, but you may recognize yourself), career path counseling can help you identify your ideal business. Or, it could lead to identifying your best work environment and structuring how best to spend your working hours.
*Do you already know that you want to go into business for yourself, but don’t know what in? Do you have loads of ideas, and one thing looks better than the next, but you aren’t completely comfortable or confident in your decision even after you’ve done all the research on several businesses. Now is the time a career professional can really help you focus and identify what is right for YOU.

As you can see, there are so many reasons to work with a highly skilled professional who understands the world of work, human nature, coaching and mentoring to aid in making one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.

At this point, you may be asking why use the word “Path” in career path counseling? Isn’t it extraneous? The Path denotes that over the course of a lifetime, one’s career is never linear. Unless you are one of the few who still unrealistically think that you will work for the same employer until retirement and be promoted according to the company plan, there are generally twists and turns, starts, restarts along the “career path.” Career is not necessarily defined as doing one thing. It is a series of experiences. Personally, my career took me from one type of vocational counseling to another, to the founder of an art franchise and now back to career (more definitively defined) path counseling. Yet, my transition from one to the other was fairly painless because I’ve always had my original Roadmap. The forks in the road lead to easy decisions. Knowing who you are in relation to your career path help you recognize the signs when it’s time to move on.