As the New Year sets in, it seems like the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by and get some plans in place for the year ahead.
Like many of you, I had a challenging year in 2019 with a fierce mix of highs & lows and it is easy to look back from where I am standing now and point out where I should have done things differently.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing.
Towards the end of 2019, like many other people all over the globe, I poured myself a coffee and sat to contemplate my New Year’s resolutions. As I stared blankly at my paper, which was slowly becoming overrun with drawings of genderless stick folk, I wondered why I was finding the task so difficult. Why had so many of my previous attempts at achieving New Year’s resolutions failed so miserably?
As I swirled the last of my coffee around the inside of my mug and the caffeine started to race through my veins, I had the realisation I had been waiting for. In previous years, almost every New Year’s resolution I had set for myself was simply unachievable, a delightful mix of unrealistic ‘dreams’. I had no idea how I was going to get to the place I thought I wanted to be, so would desperately scramble at half-hearted attempts at success, until around mid-February when I would inevitably give up.
Suddenly, my mind arrived at a conversation I recently had with an old actor friend of mine. He told me of a phrase he had adopted to help him identify when he was falling into a negative mindset. He explained that in his most vulnerable moments as a performer he would find himself living in the ‘destructive if’.
I‘d be happy if (I got that audition)
I’d be successful if (I got cast in that show)
I’d feel less stressed if (I wasn’t working multiple jobs)
It was exactly how I was structuring my New Year’s resolutions without even realising it.
He had learnt to identify when he felt himself slipping into the same negative cycle, then he would sit down and review his recent positive achievements.
So, I made the decision that this year, rather than simply setting myself unrealistic goals for the future and living in the destructive ‘if’, I would first write out my achievements from the previous year.
With my achievements boldly displayed on the page before me, I had no other choice than to accept a simple truth; I am already living my dream.
In accepting this mindset, evidenced by all the positive things that I had already achieved in the year gone by, I decided that I only needed to set small incremental changes to subtly refocus my dream.
The truth is, we rarely take stock of our position and think “I’m here! I am exactly where 15-year-old me longed to be when he was dreaming about a career in the arts.” (Or whatever your particular story happens to be.)
When was the last time you really stopped to consider that the chance is, you may have already achieved some of the dreams that your younger self longed for all those years ago?
By accepting my current position and identifying that positive things are happening all the time, even if there is a whole lot of negative stuff thrown in there too, I can enjoy the adventure and rid myself of the destructive ‘if’.
So if I may be so bold to suggest, if you wake up in the morning with an audition in the diary, or if you climb out of bed with the passion to get out there and create a piece of theatre, or if you call your agent for a chat to discuss the next step, or if you are simply just considering what is the next step on your adventure; you may already be Living the Dream.