Working your arse off and still no progress? Not getting seen for those projects you know you’re perfect for? Watching other “less-deserving” people leapfrog you to the glory?
Perhaps you’re concentrating on the wrong things.
Instead of trying to impress the powers that be – something in the end you have no control over anyway – maybe you should take a look at yourself and your behaviour, make sure you’re not actually hindering your own career. Self-sabotage – so easy to do it without realising.
Here are 5 of the most common ways we let ourselves down. See if any apply to you:
Sabotage 1: You can’t let go of dead weight.
You keep material or “schtick” that you know and feel safe with but which is getting old and tired. The audience like it, and you can always fall back on it, but it doesn’t impress employers if they see you perform identical material every time. Try out new things and don’t be afraid to lose the older stuff. Feels scary but you know it’s the way to move things forward.
Sabotage 2: You’re not changing or developing.
Obviously you know your strengths – if you’re a standup that’s where you’re the most comfortable, or a sketch writer or character comic. But why not expand your career frontiers? Try submitting material to other formats, or other performers. Perhaps try a different style of performance – from sketch to standup. This increases your creative output, exercises your creative muscles, helps you keep a fresh and different perspective, and also increases your sphere of influence and connection. You never know where it may take you.
Sabotage 3: You haven’t consolidated what you have.
In apparent contrast to the last point, if you are always chopping and changing then you will be good at nothing. Make sure you have something solid. Don’t give up on perfecting your main strength because you get bored and want to try something new. You need a solid foundation to build confidence and credibility.
Sabotage 4: You take things too personally.
This is a big one. The nature of the job makes it very difficult to do otherwise. You’re not selling a car you’re selling yourself and if someone doesn’t like the product it means they don’t like you. Well, that’s not strictly true but that’s how it feels. Remember if someone doesn’t choose you or doesn’t laugh, it’s not about you, it’s about them. People have different senses of humour. If you don’t get an audition it’s because someone else better suited their brief. Move on. It’s important to learn from mistakes and improve but don’t dwell, it gets you nowhere. And don’t waste time and energy getting angry or resentful – it’s boring, destructive and unpleasant to be around.
Sabotage 5: You’re ruining your health.
You’re not at your best, you’re too tired, you’ve put on weight, you feel unfit…. Ah, the rock and roll life! You need sleep and you need to be healthy. Your brain has to be at optimum speed to create and to react. The social side of the business and the hours make it difficult to keep control of health issues, but it’s still possible. You work at night? Meetings and auditions are in the daytime. And if you’re a performer your appearance is extremely important – people can be cast on looks alone. So forget the idea of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. If you’re serious about getting ahead, getting wrecked regularly does you no favours on any fronts.
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