Following on from the disappointment that was #2020, I bet you’ve all got pretty high expectations for 2021! It’s an opportunity for us to start fresh and to make waves in our acting careers (despite Covid-19 continuing to hang around). But this is okay! There’s nothing you or I can do about the pandemic. Our acting careers on the other hand? This we certainly have some influence over. So let’s look at 10 steps you can take (pandemic, or not) to make it your best acting year yet!
#1 Define Your Goals
Let’s start from the beginning, of course. It all starts with a healthy mindset. If you haven’t already, now is the time to set clear, actionable and achievable goals for the year (and beyond if you like). Be specific, be realistic, but don’t leave anything off the table. They can shift and change over the course of the year, that’s totally normal. But without a clear set of goals to work towards, you will struggle to find the direction and the motivation to begin anything.
Read: How to Set Goals
#2 Find Accountability for those Goals
How many times have you set a goal, and then completely forgotten about it 2 days later? Write your goals down, stick them up on the wall, or make it your screensaver. This way you’ll look at them every day and be reminded of what you’re working towards.
Now take it one step further and tell 3 people whom you trust: “this is what I’m going to achieve this year…”. I told my creative writing partner, I told my best friend who lives overseas, and I told my therapist. Now they all know exactly what I’m working towards this year, and they will help me to achieve it.
It’s not easy to speak your goals out loud. This is often because we’re afraid we’ll never reach them and then someone else will bear witness to that failure. But truth be told, it’s very difficult to remain accountable to yourself. Telling someone else, someone supportive and close to us will help us to find and maintain that accountability for our goals. So write down those goals, and tell them to a few trusted confidants ASAP!
Take one step towards your goals today. Yes, right now! No matter how small or insignificant it may seem, I’d much rather you do tiny little things beginning now, than wait 6 months and then try to take one big leap. Your first step might be making a vision board, researching some acting classes in your area, buying a yoga mat for your physical warm-ups or even booking in for new headshots with your favourite photographer.
Remember, taking 100 small steps is going to get you much closer to a goal than 3 large ones will.
Note: Are you feeling lost, or unsure where to begin? This probably means your goals aren’t clear enough, or actionable enough. Go back, revisit them and rework them if need be.
#4 Develop New Habits
Create some new habits which will serve your career and craft. Such as a daily vocal warm-up, weekly self-tape, monthly play reading etc. The most “successful” people in this industry are all arbiters of great habits and a solid work ethic. A habit takes 6 weeks to make – so pick something that is achievable (no matter how small), and make sure you stick to it for at least 6 weeks. It will become much easier after that threshold. Creating new healthy habits is like renovating your kitchen. Once it’s done, you get to walk around your new kitchen and enjoy the clean surfaces, the organisation, and cook your dinner feeling funky and fresh. Once it’s a habit, it’s no longer an uphill battle, it becomes a pleasure to carry out your daily routine and your heart and mind will thank you for it.
#5 Ditch Bad Habits
What are the bad habits that are holding you back? Do you stay up late and regret it the next day? Do you put off audition prep until the last minute? Do you constantly compare yourself to others on social media? Do you host pity parties for yourself on a regular basis? Do you beat yourself up for not being pretty enough/fit enough/tall enough/loud enough? Negative habits are self-sabotage and will hold you back in 2021, so identify them, and ditch them.
#6 Get Back Into the Classroom
No one will ever “master” the craft of acting. Not even Meryl (sorry, Meryl). The Acting craft is as elusive and mystical as a mermaid. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve learnt all there is to learn about it. That day will never come. Get back into a classroom, and soak up everything you can. The best actors are also the best learners.
Training and studying will undoubtedly improve your skills (who doesn’t want that?) BUT it will also level up your confidence. We all want more confidence, walking into meetings, auditions and even social situations. I know from experience, that I am my best self when I am in the classroom. It’s more stimulating and confidence-boosting than any other drug! (Not to mention healthier…)
#7 Find Your Tribe
Are your current tribe letting you down? Not inspiring you? Are they unmotivated and bitter? We’ve all got that friend who’s a little too cynical about acting, and they’re often not much fun to be around. Instead, surround yourself with people that support, inspire and push you. This includes reaching out to a mentor, or someone who has more experience than you and asking them for advice. Don’t take advice from your cynical friend, they’ll only pass their cynical-ness on to you. Spend time with an inspired, motivated and hardworking person and all of those wonderful qualities will rub off on you. It’s infectious.
#8 Make Your Mark
By knowing who you are and what you have to offer the world, you can leave your mark on your work. What stories are you passionate about telling? Go ahead and tell them. What characters do you want to embody and explore? Embody and explore them.
Don’t wait for the phone to ring and don’t wait for someone to give you a job. You need to make your own opportunities from here on out. I know not everyone is a screenwriter or a producer – but this shouldn’t stop you from making work. The previous point is about finding your tribe. Offer your services to the creative people around you. Find a writer, and collaborate. Find an emerging director who wants to gain experience, and work on a scene with them and film it for your showreel.
In 2021, it’s the proactive actors who will come out on top.
#9 Challenge Yourself
You will not grow or evolve by staying in your comfort zone. Expand your horizons, try new things, push yourself and immerse yourself in the unknown. This could be anything from sending your script to a director you admire, to picking up juggling, to clowning school. It’s very easy to shy away from the things we’re afraid of trying, I encourage you to get in the habit of leaning towards it instead. This will not only build your confidence as a human but also expose you to so many more experiences as an actor.
Too often we continue doing the same things and expect different results!
#10 Find Balance
2020 was full of uncertainty and instability (understatement of the year.)
Let’s make 2021 full of certainty and stability. Regardless of what goes on in the world around you, what are the things that keep you grounded and sane? Who are the people that keep you grounded and sane? I’m a big advocate of exercise and meditation, this is what keeps me sane throughout the chaos. Journalling is also incredibly powerful. As is therapy. Only you know what will make you feel balanced and grounded. With so much that is outside of your control, it’s vital to recognise what is within your control and do whatever is necessary to make you happy and healthy.
Some thoughts to finish…
These steps can be taken in whichever way you feel necessary. This is your journey and yours alone. Unfortunately, life is not a one-size-fits-all approach. But your art and creative spirit are a constant – you can always come back to that at the end of the day.
Take care, don’t forget to rest and let’s make 2021 our b*tch!!!