Thursday, October 28, 2010

The List: An Entire Month Off

Well. I spent most of last week [before I posted the Month Off post] trying to figure out if I really had the stones to attempt something so ambitious, in front of everyone. I knew once I posted it, I’d have to follow through. And honestly, that scared me. What if I failed? In front of everyone? I mean, it would be a lot of work, but that was the point. As soon as I realized it scared me, I posted it.

I ain’t getting taken down by fear. And neither should you.

So I sat down and made the list. What would I really want to accomplish? What would be the most helpful to me immediately, and also going into pilot season? I’m going to share my list as an example. Which, by the way, is also a bit scary, because now I’m accountable – but again, that’s the point. This is what I wrote:

•learn two new monologues
•learn and investigate a new song [which, ahem, is really just learning a third monologue]
•write one song
•write that “untitled” short
•re-organize the office space
•get to new, more accomplished level of fitness
•eat sublimely healthy food
•go through and donate clothes to Goodwill
•get footage from all outstanding projects and get them on my reel
•write outline of “untitled” screenplay idea
•find and apply for three paying jobs where I can work from home on my own schedule
•read two plays
•read one book
•spend more time with friends and family

Writing this list got me excited. This is not a list of things I want to have done, this is a list of things I actually want to do. Best of all, they all would have a positive impact on both my personal life and my career. This is a good thing.

As soon as I got this list written, I knew it would take some detailed planning and scheduling for the month. I mean – it’s not enough for me to say “Get to new, more accomplished levels of fitness.” I had to choose what I was after, what I was going to do, and for how many days each week.

The same with “Eating sublimely healthy food.” It’s easy to go to the grocery store and buy all clean food, but that’s not enough. I would have to think about meals. And snacks. Now I love to tear it up in the kitchen, but what if I have a long day and don’t want to fully cook a meal? Ordering pizza is not a viable option, I’d have to have something already in place, even for those times. Is that when I break out the Trader Joe’s frozen Pad Thai? It’s a good start.

As I was about to get down with the details, the power cord on Macbook crapped out. Oy. I went to the Apple store at the Grove at 5:30 on a Saturday evening. Angelenos know exactly what level of hell I walked into. But this was important – I needed my computer to work so I could get going on my scheduling. I had a feeling that if I didn’t give myself a good chance to actually plan this, I was sure to fail. The trip to the Apple Store was surprisingly easy. Plus, you don’t have to wait in line for a cashier because every single employee can cash you out with their ipod. Not bad, Apple.

The new cord did not fix the problem. I had known I needed a new battery for a while, but had not gotten around to buying one. No matter. I went back to the Apple store the very next morning to pick up a battery, but they were out of stock. In fact, after fourteen phone calls, I learned that none of the Apple stores within 60 miles of Los Angeles had it in stock. I would have to order online. And have it… delivered. What is this, the sixties?

I ordered the battery and felt dejected. Whyyyyy was this happening to meeeeeeeeee? And just when I’m trying to accomplishhh so muccchhhhhhh?! Okay, I wasn’t that whiney, but I got close to that. Then I decided: Not only was this not going to stop me, it wasn’t even going to slow me down. I still remember how to write, I could write my plans down! Do you hear me, Universe?! I AM DOING THISSSSSSSSSS!

I needed pizza. I drove to my favorite place in LA, which is not close at all so I had time to think while I drove. Not having the usage of my computer really did feel like a slap in the face, it was not the energy I wanted at the absolute beginning stages of this experiment.

And then, I let it all go. I was still going to do it all anyway, I might as well succumb to the experience, and observe what it brought up. I relaxed. Music in my car sounded clearer. Colors outside my car window were brighter. In short, I fell in.

It seemed that by choosing to do this experiment, I had stirred something up in my world. Things were changing. I came home feeling elated. I sat down and wrote out the things I planned to do on my Entire Month Off. I can’t lie, my handwriting sucks - but writing this list in pencil on a spiral notebook felt transcendent. Visceral. Even erasing an idea was work. Surprisingly, I remembered the entire list, and writing it down made it feel real.

Maybe I had to write it down to fully remember that the point of this entire exercise was Old Fashioned Hard Work? And you know what? Maybe my computer needed a new battery to keep up with all this work I’m diving into. Maybe it was a sign of a new beginning. All I knew for sure was that I was definitely doing this. And apparently, it just might change my life.

This is a good thing. Get into it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Entire Month Off

What would you do with an entire month off? Would you go out of town? Take a class? Would you learn a new monologue? Or two? Re-organize your office space? Finally get that screenplay idea down on paper? Devote more time to fitness? Spend more time with friends and family? Go to museums? Learn new recipes? Shoot a short? Shoot a web series? Overhaul and/or re-investigate your audition material? Edit your reel? Send out a targeted headshot mailing? Get new headshots?

Or would you dust off your “2010 New Year’s Resolutions” list and see how far you’ve come?

With a month off, I feel like I could get a lot done. It’s just that pesky job that takes up all my time. With a month off, I’d even have time for romantic walks on the beach. Wouldn’t I...?

As I was thinking about how I would afford to take an entire month off, I remembered that the Universe abhors a vacuum. If one month off was all I chose to pursue, the Universe could give it to me in a number of ways that had nothing to do with my own desires. I decided to make a list of the things I would be taking a month off to do. It’s always better to make choices in the direction you want to go, right?

What would I do with a month off from my survival job, really? I would definitely still go to auditions and shoot anything I booked. Obviously. That’s my career. But what about all the other time?

As I began to make this list, I got excited. These were all things I actually wanted to do with my time and were all things I wanted to accomplish. Best of all, they were things I could accomplish. With a little ambition.

After I made this list, I thought about how I would afford a month off to do all of this. Sure, it was possible and could be worked out. I would just have to work more at the survival job to make the money I’d use for an entire month off. It would take some time, but it could be done! But while I’d be saving up for this month off, I wouldn’t have time to accomplish any of my own goals until that month off.

What if I didn’t take a month off… and still did the things I would’ve done in that time… anyway?

As soon as I thought it, I knew I had to do it. And I should start as soon as possible. I decided I’d take November. I have ten days to get myself ready. This would not be easy, but wouldn’t I feel more fulfilled…? Doing this in November would also work as a big push through the end of the year. I’d have a shot at meeting the goals I set for myself in January. I could finally enjoy the holidays without feeling like I got lazy after Halloween.

The Plan:

I would take November “off,” from November first through December fifth. It would go five days into December to account for the five days around Thanksgiving (and for some neat reason this year, Nov 1 is a Monday and December 5 is a Sunday five weeks later. There are no coincidences). I’d plan my weeks and weekends around the tasks I’d set for myself AND work at my survival job. I’d use an app on my cell phone to schedule these events and set alarms to make sure I got going.

And then I wondered: Why I should do this? It’s not like I’m lazy. I already attend to my career, right? I work my ass off! Why should I work even harder than I already do?

Because, if you want to keep getting what you’re getting, keep doing what you’re doing – as they say. By all accounts, I can’t complain with the goals I have surpassed this year. But I’ve only gotten to wherever I am right now because I did more this year than last. And it’s time to climb to the next level, so it’s time to do even more.

Are you feeling me?

The Challenge:

Join me: From November 1, 2010 through December 5, 2010 – let’s take the entire month off! We’ll make a list of the things we want to accomplish if we had taken the entire month off from our survival jobs. Then we will prioritize that list, and bite off a little more than we think we could chew without actually taking a month off from our survival jobs. But it has to be more than we think we could actually do. We would have to be ambitious. That’s the only way we could get done more than usual.

Best of all? We all get to do it together and share our experiences with each other. If it gets difficult, we can all come back here for inspiration! We can all comment and talk about how we’re handling our journey. If we want too. Or not. At the very least, I promise you I will document my journey here. So even if you’re skeptical about doing it now, you’ll be able to track my own progress and decide if you’d like to do it later.

I just have a feeling that now is an excellent time to put the cart before the horse. And nothing bad has ever come from working our collective asses off, has it…?

In the next post I’ll go into my own list of things I’m choosing to accomplish during my month off, and I’ll even talk about how I’m going to schedule myself.

This is a good thing. Get into it.