Taking Stock

Dec 22, 2009 by     No Comments    Posted under: Attitude, Three Actors

Acting, more than most any other profession, relies on the individual to have their life together. To be centered. To be confident. To, as some famous poet once said, “have your shit together.” Okay, I just made that up, but I’m sure Thoreau said something like that after one too many cocktails at a poetry jam.

The point is, acting is bringing yourself to a character. This is why constant self-improvement is crucial. The end of the year is great time to do this. It’s the year’s weekend. It’s kind of random that we make such a big deal out of the new year (it’s just one day past the day before), but for whatever reason it tends to be a good time to re-adjust your thinking, and lay the foundation for the coming year.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes the difference between someone who busts it for 10 years and doesn’t make it, versus someone who busts it for 10 years and does. Timing, hard work, and a number of other things play into this (more on those later), but I also think specific planning and doing things like a comprehensive annual review and extensive goal-setting session will provide more success than you can possibly imagine.

I recently conducted a review of my 2009, and set out goals in various categories of my life for 2010 (what better to do when driving with your roommate across the country?). I started with some posts by Chris Guillebeau. He did this one in 2008 which has a number of great thoughts on how to think about and do the review. It also has a link to annual review excel document that I promise you will be the key to accomplishing your goals this year. This post has Chris’ thoughts for 2009 on this type of review…super helpful.

A few thoughts on the review:

Break your goals into categories

This was another suggestion from Chris, and one that helps solidify what’s important to you. My categories included some of the following:

  • Health/fitness
  • Social life
  • Financial – earning
  • Financial – saving
  • Acting – the artistic side
  • Acting – the business side
  • Revenge
  • Lifestyle/Organization
  • Travel
  • Career (my other jobs)
  • Creative

Ok, one of those categories wasn’t in there…I’ll let you decide which one

Only set goals that YOU can control

The goal to “get on The Office” isn’t really a good goal because you can’t control it (unless you’re the casting director for the show, in which case please contact me). However, you can control how many mailings you send out, how many times you drop by a casting office, or the like.

Have a theme for the year

My theme for last year was “Transition.” My relationships transitioned, I began and quit jobs, started a new career, and moved halfway across the country. This year’s theme is “Focus and Discipline.” I know what I need to do, now I just need to execute.

Really look back

Taking a very detailed look back at the past year is incredibly important. What worked, what didn’t, how are you a different person than when you started?

Be proud of yourself

Sure, maybe you never lost that 5 pounds of whatever, but if I’ve learning anything about acting (and successlife in general) it’s that you rarely get props and kudos. Stop looking for these in your auditions or your acting class, and start giving them to yourself. Be proud of your accomplishments and successes in the last year. If you’re not enjoying the journey it’s not worth it.

Thanks to everyone who reads this…I’m truly thankful for your support and I look forward to an epic 2010.


Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.