I used to think having a birthday tucked between Christmas and New Year’s Eve was a terrible burden. Okay, it’s still not ideal, but I have found the silver lining to turning a year older on December 29. The timing gives me two chances in the final days of 2013 to reflect on the year behind me and prepare for the year ahead.
Let me be honest about 2013 first. It wasn’t the kind of year I want to repeat. I’m glad it’s coming to an end, but I don’t want to erase it because I think I learned a few things that makes putting together my plan for 2014 far easier.
I compiled a list of 10 areas any actor can focus on when making their own list. While creating a personal list is essential, it’s also important to follow the plan. The list left unattended does nothing on its own. So with each item, I am including a little plan of action to help me ensure I reach each goal.
10 New Year’s Resolutions for Actors
1. Cut Facebook Time by 75%
Why: I practically live on Facebook so any reduction in time is a big benefit. It frees up time for more productive pursuits.
Plan of Action: Cutting my time by 75% can be done by limiting myself to 15-minute visits once a day. This can apply to all social media, from Google+ to LinkedIn to Twitter.
2. Double Reading Time
Why: When an actor’s imagination gets weak, it can have a direct impact on our output in auditions and during shoots.
Plan of Action: Find one new source of fiction and non-fiction stories once a week, whether it’s in a novel or a script.
3. Commit to One Workshop
Why: Whether it’s a workshop involving improvisation, scene study, or personal development, any workshop that aims to help you improve yourself as an artist, a professional, and a human being is worth taking.
Plan of Action: Compile a running list of workshops based on ones you see mentioned by arts’ organizations, agents and colleagues.
4. Learn One Monologue Per Month
Why: I have spent a great deal of energy trying to get particular roles rather than creating interesting characters. Working on a new monologue regularly can help me actively search for the kinds of characters I could play now or one day.
Plan of Action: Select a new monologue in the first few days of the month and plan to share it with someone (or a whole bunch of people) by the end of the month.
5. Get New Headshots 2x
Why: Like learning new monologues, a new look in your headshots can open a new door or give a casting director who knows you well a fresh impression of what you offer.
Plan of Action: Establish two times during the year to get new headshots and begin shopping based on what you aim to accomplish with each session. Look at sample work and discuss with colleagues what you desire.
6. Update Website Pages
Why: Your information can change as you move, learn new skills, get new representation, and much more. Making a conscious effort to keep these pages updated allows you to ensure everything asset you have to offer is visible. A well-written bio should be part of your marketing materials, too, whether you have your own site or not.
Plan of Action: Set aside one day per month to update all websites so the information change is consistently applied to all places.
7. Evaluate Representation
Why: No matter how much you love your agent, it’s not a permanent arrangement. Your agent takes time to evaluate you and you should do the same. There will always be areas to improve. Uncovering weaknesses gives you topics for discussion and helps you make informed decisions when it comes time to sign an extension or move on.
Plan of Action: Two months before your anniversary date is a good time to start evaluating. Give yourself specific areas to look at, and be ready to accept some responsibility for the relationships successes and failures.
8. Create a List of Roles to Pursue
Why: Many actors respond only to the casting breakdowns they see without dreaming of roles they wish to play most. Move away from this reactive state to a proactive approach to your craft. Finding roles that you aspire to play can fuel your imagination and make your journey far more fun and personal.
Plan of Action: Create a list based on a character you know from literature or a genre or a writer or a director. Add at least one new role to the list each month.
9. Become Business Savvy
Why: We often think of ourselves as artists first, but actors are a blend of art and business. Without good business decisions, we can hurt ourselves financially and harm our reputations and impede our career progress.
Plan of Action: It won’t happen overnight for the “starving artist” but reading self-help books about business, meeting with an accountant, and creating a budget are a few ways to start moving out of survival mode and into something more self-sustaining.
10. Develop an Authentic Voice
Why: I saved this one for last because it’s the most important one on my list. It’s the most challenging too. With so many actors out there, we face an abundance of competition and can get lost among all of those faces. Standing out is necessary for creating a successful career but we can’t stand out by being like everyone else.
Plan of Action: Determine what you represent as an actor and make decisions based on what inspires you, what’s important to you, and where you want to take your career. This won’t be accomplished in one day but can be one resolution that touches your life every day of the year ahead.