Start Small to Finish Big

One of the toughest things about working for yourself (which, by the way, you are doing when you pursue a career in acting) is time management.  Boy, oh boy, there are millions of things you could do or should do or would do if you had the time to manage it all.  Let’s face it, as you are building your career, you need a day job, you need time for your craft, and you need a life.

Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the to-do list.

This is your career.  You aren’t going anywhere.  So trust that taking specific action each and every day will get you where you want to be.  I am not suggesting that you slack off and trust in the acting Gods, but I am suggesting that success awaits you if you are willing to show up on a consistent and persistent basis.  You must, must, must treat your career like any successful CEO.  Show up for yourself everyday and take inspired action.

Honestly, how often have you purchased concert tickets and not attended the show?  How often have you no-showed on a hair appointment or job interview?  How often have you just decided not to show up for a date or skipped out on lunch plans with a friend?  I’m not sure why, but for some crazy reason it is often easier for most people to keep these appointments than to keep the appointments you set with yourself.  Trust me, I get it.  When I have to buckle down for a deadline, quarantined from the things I love most in order to finish my tasks, I get it!  It’s called resistance, and it cannot be in charge of your life.

Your job is to take specific consistent action towards your long-term vision as well as your short-term goals.

The toughest part about finishing a project is beginning it, so create the space to begin everyday.  Set some office hours and commit to working on your business every single day.  Don’t be crazy.  Begin by committing to twenty minutes of business work each day.  Schedule the time and decide what specific tasks you will work on.  I have found that it’s easier to commit to a time frame rather than to a specific result, so break your work into twenty-minute intervals.  Don’t worry, you can work longer if you choose, but it’s easier to commit to just twenty minutes than to find a few hours to block off each day.  How can you say no to twenty short minutes?

I had the opportunity to coach two different screenwriters during the same timeframe.  Both writers wanted to complete a screenplay, and both struggled to begin the project because the thought of writing an entire script was overwhelming.  Both writers developed a writing schedule in order to complete their scripts.  One set aside six hours every Friday to write.  He figured that by clocking six hours each week, the script would be completed in a matter of weeks.  The funny thing was that the reality of having six hours in a row to write was a tough commitment to keep.  One week, he had out of town visitors; another week he had to fill in for a sick coworker.  Week after week, obstacles popped up that prevented him from keeping his six-hour commitment.  He often thought, “Well, without an entire six hours to commit, why bother even getting started?”

The other writer decided she would simply write a page every day.  Some days, she literally hand wrote one sentence in giant font to fulfill her page-a-day commitment.  But on most days, after completing the first page, the second one quickly followed, then the third, then the fourth.  At the end of only four weeks, writer number two had a completed script in her hands, while poor writer number one had only clocked in six hours of writing time.

You see, it’s easier to take action on a simple goal such as writing a page rather than carving out an entire day to pound out some hard work.

The same is true when it comes to sending out your ships and managing your acting business.  It’s easier to send out five postcards each day rather than 150 in one sitting.  It’s easier to self-submit each morning for five minutes rather than once a week for an hour.

Break your office hours into small segments that are easier to say yes to than to resist.  I urge you to create a work schedule and mark your commitment in your calendar.  Clock in and clock out.  Track your progress. The hardest part is starting.  Start small so you can finish big!


7 Responses to “Start Small to Finish Big”

  1. Lynndi Scott says:

    Thank you for this solution! I have been struggling with this on certain tasks and was just settling in to address it when there you were in my Ibox! I WILL troubleshoot and launch my website, one time-framed commitment at a time!

  2. Sean says:

    Hey Dallas,
    I am at that point that I just dont know where to go with my career. I dont want to make steps that will actually hinder me but I dont want to just click and submit, but at this point that is all that I can do as far as I know. I dont have limitless resources to spend on useless ventures.
    I love reading your information.
    If you have any suggestions, I’d greatly appreciate it.

  3. Kevin Gregg says:

    Thanks Dallas! Wonderful words of wisdom. One small step at a time, that’s how to get things done. And just showing up is half the battle.

  4. Gary Ploski says:

    Fantastic suggestions, Dallas.

    Something a friend pointed out to me that you hinted at is that we also almost never cancel on something we paid to attend. The value of a workshop, etc. increases when it is an experience we have valued with personal finances – regardless of the amount paid.

    Need new headshots? Pay yourself daily for the 20 minutes of work. A the end of a month or two you just might have the money you needed for those new pix.

  5. Aviva Ezra says:

    I think that it is a great and very clever advice to give!

  6. Dallas,

    Every time I read your advice I’m renewed with a sense of vigor and “can-do” attitude. Thank you once AGAIN for some senseful and useful motivation!

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