I've been seeing some version of this A LOT on Facebook lately:
“It looks like everyone is getting things done but me during stay-at-home. Where is everyone getting the motivation?!?”
I responded specifically to one from a friend of mine from college posted and asked, “What are you trying to get motivated on?” His response? “...EVERYTHING.”
So as promised, I’m sharing with you what immediately came to my mind as to HOW I get and stay motivated during this. And keep in mind these are things that are part of my life OUTSIDE of Covid. Because, as stated in my previous post - theater is PART of my life. It’s not ALL of my life.
(BTW - if you haven't read Part 1 yet, go do that first! Good stuff in there ;)
How I Stay (Or At Least Look Like I Am) Motivated:
Number 1 - A Peek Backstage - Change Your Perspective
Something you should know about me and my business… I have help with my social media because of my business so I LOOK like I’m doing more than I am probably. You think I’m taking an hour to put together perfectly crafted posts on the daily? NOPE! That’s all planned out, in bulk batches, ahead of time, and while the ideas and words are mine and I have posed for the pictures - I have help from someone else (Hey Sydney!) who makes all the magic happen consistently.
Why? Because I know I am a BUSINESS - as an actor, as a health coach, and as a teacher. Legally I’m an LLC and all. So I hire help for things like my social media presence that I would just NOT be able to keep up on otherwise.
So I totally just outed myself. Why did I do that? Because I want you to understand that when you set yourself up and THINK of yourself as a BUSINESS - you realize that you are allowed to not do everything yourself. Not only that - you CAN’T do everything yourself. You just can’t. And SO MANY PEOPLE stop doing things to move themselves forward because there’s JUST SO MUCH that they can’t even decide what they SHOULD focus on… so they freeze and focus on nothing.
I can’t be an awesome mom, a solid performer, a great teacher and health coach for my clients, AND spend hours a day creating social media posts. I. Just. Can’t. It would take too much of me mentally and I’d be drained every. damn. day.
So I get help. You might not be at the point where that makes sense for you - and that’s fine! But I want you to at least know what you’re comparing your motivation against. To be fully transparent - there are 3 other people on my team besides myself that keep my business functioning the way I need it to so that I can do OTHER things that need to be done. Like meet the guy who installs gutters to get an estimate (which was what I did today… I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT GUTTERS!!!)
If you can’t hire things out (totally makes sense right now!) - sit down. Make a list of ALLLLL the things that would feel REALLY GOOD to get done. And remember that things like “Clean my room” count. Doing the laundry counts. All of those day to day things help to create more mental bandwidth and SPACE for you to be creative once your motivation starts kicking in again.
Number Two - Another Peak Backstage - Scale Your Motivation
There are PLENTY of days when I’m not productive. And I do my best not to judge myself for that and to utilize times when I can find motivation. Even a SUPER small thing can start the motivation (like starting a load of laundry, sweeping one room, etc.) If you can’t find a big thing to do, start small.
SHOULD you finally create that website you’ve been meaning to create? Maybe. But will sweeping that one corner that’s been collecting cat hair for a month feel WAAAAY more fulfilling right now? If so, go do that! Plus, you get an extra check mark for getting off the couch today. YAY CHECKMARKS!
Also - DON’T in any way beat yourself up for not working on performance stuff. You’re already a good performer and everything in the theater world is put on hold. Give yourself space to find motivation in other things and performance will return. The virtual space is saturated right now with “karaoke” and “cabarets” and that’s all well and good. But if you’re not feeling it, don’t force it. It won’t lead to your best performance and remember… the internet is forever. Do your best to put good quality stuff on it and don’t fret if you’re not as prolific as Screechy Karen over there with her 15 karaoke videos.
Number Three - Your Space
When we’re not in pandemic mode, what my space LOOKS like really tends to take a back seat. I did at one point finally barter with a student of mine to have him come clean the common areas once per week (which I’m TOTALLY missing right now), but in general, my house does not have tons of storage space AND I have a toddler. So there’s stuff EV. ERY. WHERE. And honestly, just looking at it is EXHAUSTING.
And it’s actually been exhausting me for a while I’ve realized. BUT - I’ve been so busy and interior design is so deprioritized on my to-do list that I didn’t realize how much it’s affecting me. But, I’m home now. All the time. So I can’t really ignore it any longer AND I have time to actually DO something about it.
If your space feels SANE (whatever that means to you), motivation is MUCH easier to find. So right now, while you’re not running to workout, then work, then walk the dog, then rehearsal, and maybe eating something somewhere in there and then rinse and repeat tomorrow.... Maybe NOW is the time to really take stock of your space and actually CURATE it to be functional for you post-pandemic.
Everyone seems to be doing this right now. And I know a lot of the people throwing up the “OMG look what I made!” posts are, like, FANCY projects. But yours don’t have to be. Choose some really specific and feasible upgrades that will make your space feel pleasantly calm and homey. We all have to be at home now - make sure it’s somewhere you ENJOY being.
There is a corner of my bedroom that I have redone that I find particularly pleasant. And all I had to do was buy two corner shelves (like… $20 max) and install them (WIIIIIIIIIIICKED easy turns out) and put up a hook for a curtain rod to hang a plant from. Seriously, it completely changes how I feel about this room and now I LOVE being in there.
Number Four - Get Out! - (Watch the movie but also do the thing)
Make sure to get outside every day. I go insane when I can’t. Unless you are literally in a country, state or city where it is unsafe to go for a walk - do that. If you’re super nervous about it, just walk out onto your front porch and breathe the outside air. Do it with a mask on if that feels better to you.
If you’re feeling EEEEXTRA adventurous, choose a morning to wake up early and beat the crowd to a nearby walking or nature trail. (Crazy… I know).
Most of us have literally never been indoors this much. And thanks to those who HAVE, we have plenty of research showing that it is not great for our mental state overall. If you literally can’t get yourself to do anything else on this list, do this one.
Get your butt outdoors every day for 5 minutes. After a few days, increase it to 10, then 15, etc. I would bet you a bucket of donuts that just getting yourself out of your house or apartment, which probably feels stale and stagnant after being there for weeks, will eventually kick start your motivation to do SOMETHING.
Ya know that saying "don't compare your every day to someone else's highlight reel"? Truer words were never spoken right now my friends.
You do you. One day at a time. And try to make each day better than the one before. Sometimes it'll work. Sometimes not. But either way, you're doing this RIGHT.
And as always, leave a comment and let me know how YOUR motivation is going.
There's a pervasive belief in theater that you have to live, breathe, and eat your art in order to "make it" or be a "real actor".
I’ve written about it before and I’ll probably write about it again.
But right now, I think it’s especially important to speak to this. We’re at a time when we CAN’T do theater the way we have before. Thousands of actors are out of work and hundreds (but probably thousands again) of small, underfunded theaters are in danger of not being able to open even when a stay-at-home order is lifted.
But… don’t worry. There’s hope.
There is Life Between Theater.
I know this. Because I am it. I live it daily. I’ve built my LIFE around it.
Those who know me personally are probably confused at this point. Because yes - I do perform. I do teach singing. I do coach audition material and I specifically work with performers to find balance and health while trying to manage finances and life generally.
It would look as though my entire LIFE revolves around theater. And in a way, it does.
But I’ve found during this time at home, when I can only teach virtually (and when I had already planned time off from performing for pregnancy), has really hit home the fact that if you so choose you can build a life that INCLUDES theater but is not ABOUT theater.
And honestly, I think that will be the ONLY way you are actually going to be HAPPY with your theater career in any form it may take.
And and - it’s the only way you can stay CONSISTENTLY MOTIVATED to keep moving forward in your career.
Because let’s be honest. Only a select few will actually reach the heights of consistent Broadway performance or Hollywood status. And plenty of us have already figured out that - while hard work is necessary in this business - it is not always what gets you to the top.
Meaning if you’re ability to be motivated, move forward consistently, and build a life you love is all contingent of some dude in a room LIKING you enough… that’s not going to be a way to THRIVE in your art.
But you CAN have a thriving performance career that feels your soul, your art, your pocket, while also having a complex and meaningful life OUTSIDE of theater. And THAT is a great thing to start to discover, right now, when theater is not an option.
This also means that right now, when we’re in the middle of a pandemic of unprecedented proportions (at least for most of us living currently), there ARE things you can do to keep yourself sane, moving forward, and focused on your future.
And it DOESN’T have to mean you post a new karaoke video of you every day OR completely redo your audition book OR website OR reel (though… all great ideas once you get your motivation going ;)
What are NON-theater things that have been keeping you motivated and moving forward in LIFE?
Stay tuned and I’ll let you know what’s keeping me going (and keeping me real and keeping me balanced) during all this soon...
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.