By taking it one habit at a time.
Continuing on from last week’s post about the importance of maintaining your Four Pillars of Health, some of you may have noticed a few things about yourself that you’re not 100% happy about. Whether it’s a few extra pounds around the belly, or always feeling broke–there may be a few things you’d love to change about yourself or your current situation.
You may have tried the fad diets, taking online courses, or even manifestation rituals. But I’m gonna guess, they likely didn’t work so well. Or they did for a while–but then your willpower just couldn’t take it anymore so you gave up. The problem with this method, is that you are pushing yourself to be something you’re not.
Sound harsh? Maybe, but the key here, is that you need to embody the thing you want to become first, then it won’t feel like such a fight all the time. For example, do you think that the top athletes in the world use willpower alone to break world records, or win championships? Here’s a clue–they don’t. They know that their goal is to be that champion, so they take on the persona. So, when faced with a choice between a big juicy cheeseburger with fries, or a protein shake with salad–they ask themselves the questions “Who am I, and which meal would that person eat?” The choice is natural.
And that doesn’t mean they never indulge in the juicy cheeseburger–but they know when they sink their teeth into it, it’s a choice they’re making, so there’s no guilt involved afterward. And, they know that next time, they’ll be that much happier to go back to the salad.
Same thing with trying to upgrade your skills so you can maybe get a better job. You’ve paid for the course, now you never want to go, or you can’t find the motivation to do the assignments. You’re in the mindset that you should do those things, but you don’t want to do those things.
Let’s just say you want to start acting on TV. So you signed up for an online course (because, COVID). But then, every time you get your scene, it’s a struggle for you to do the work on it. It just seems that every time you want to sit down to say, learn the lines, something else comes up. “I’m tired”, “I’m hungry”, or worst of all “It’s not like it’s for a real audition”.
Many people have the misconception that acting is something that you can’t train to be–either you’ve got it, or you don’t. Or that once you’ve taken a course, you know the basics, you can just keep doing the same thing. Or that you can just “wing it”. But like anything, you need to practice. Imagine Michael Jordan just sitting back during basketball practice like “I’ll just play when it’s a real game.” And “practice” doesn’t mean just playing the game (or in this case the scene) over and over again. You do drills, you research, you think of plays and strategies. You need to do the same in acting–or any other craft!
Bill Gates doesn’t just sit back and wait until he needs to do some “real work” he’s constantly reading, and learning, and travelling–getting curious about the world so that he can bring that new-found knowledge into his next project.
So how do you make yourself buckle-down and do the work? It’s a choice–do you want to be a working actor, or just someone who says that, then complains they never book anything? If you embody the working actor as a mindset, then the choice is easy. Do the work, or not? Depends which person you want to be. Should I succumb to late-night snacking while binge-watching Netflix, or maybe just hit the hay early and be fresh in the morning? Choose your own adventure.
Okay, does that sound a little too easy? Well, yes, it’s a little over-simplified. So I’ll break it down a bit more with these tips:
- Pick a goal: If you’ve got a bunch of things you want to improve, great–but pick one to start. Let’s say it’s to become an actor who books more roles.
- Pick a game plan: First off, you understand that 99% of the business of booking a job is out of your hands. So, what is in your control? How you show up, how you prepare, how you market yourself. There are some other things, but for the sake of this blog–Lets focus on how you show up. That means, when you walk into an audition room, or shoot a self-tape, how are you doing it? With confidence, excitement, and hope? If not, that is what you should be aiming for. I’ve blogged about Mindset and Auditions before, if you haven’t read that one, you can read it here. You need to practice getting out of your own head, and be present in the moment. How will you do this? You’ve probably been told this many times before, but meditation does wonders for your mind and body. There are many different ways to meditate–I personally like guided meditations, where you can just listen to someone else tell you what to do, and let the mind wander from negative self-talk to empowering thoughts. Some people are more visual and might benefit from Mandala meditations, or simply starting at nature and focusing on how a leaf blows in the wind. Whatever the type, pick one, or try them all. But do it in bite size times. Meditation can be as short as three minutes if that’s all you can handle, but I’d aim for five minutes to begin with. You can search up guided meditations on YouTube for free, or get an app like Headspace.
- Celebrate your successes: Whether you tell your buddy at the office about your fifth morning meditation in a row, or you write it down in a journal–make sure you recognize that what you’re doing, no matter whether you’ve hit your target yet–is good for you!
- Now, stick to it: Stick to this little task for a minimum of 30 days. You want this little improvement to become a habit. Once it’s a habit–you will just start doing it automatically. Willpower won’t even be an issue. If you miss a day, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, celebrate all that you’ve done “This is the first day I’ve missed in two weeks!”, then pick your routine back up the next day.
- Take it up a notch: Now that you’re used to being that person that meditates everyday for five minutes, why not try to add just another five minutes? Or incorporate another short session at the end of the day? Whatever it is, by repeating steps 1-5, you will eventually become the person you set out to be, because you will have created habits for each of those things you wanted to achieve.
Just imagine what you could be at the end of a year! You could have adopted 12 new habits that help you feel great about yourself. You can become that person you’ve wanted to be for years and couldn’t because you were trying to do it all at once. Whether it’s reading five pages a day, fitting in short workouts, or eating more nutritious food–setting small goals, and allowing your body to make it a habit is the best way to achieve your biggest goals.