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No doubt you have more a few regrets as the year comes to  close. Auditions you didn’t get. Bookings you didn’t get. Agents who didn’t want to sign you. The list may go on and on, but as you transition from 2015 to 2016, don’t lose the feeling of those lowest moments of the past 12 months. 

I’m not advocating playing over and over in your head any moments of suffering. Instead, I am suggesting you find a new way to look at your struggles. First, they happened for a reason. No, don’t start playing the blame game and pointing the finger at others. Look at the choices you made that led you to those difficulties, hardships, and painful days.

When we start to understand our own decision-making is the most valuable part of our success as actors and as people, we begin to think differently about our choices. If we examine those choices closely, we may discover one specific choice that took us in a direction in which we didn’t intend to go. It may have led to more challenging circumstances overall.

Here’s a second reason to not let go of the toughest moments of 2015 just yet. As actors, we get the opportunity to tell stories with universal qualities and suffering is certainly one of those things all humans share. How you suffered in 2015 could influence the way you approach a role in 2016.

This is not a method acting approach I’m focusing on. It’s raw material that can shape how you look at a character in the future. The quality of suffering need not be the same to be helpful. You didn’t need to be in massive debt to play a character suffering a massive loss.

Just like you in real life, your future characters have many different motivations and secret struggles. What they strive for and run away from are not always scripted. There’s always room to build on the foundation by the writer.

In looking back at those most difficult moments of 2015 that may inspire your best moments of 2016, here’s an exercise I invite you to do. As you come up with each example, consider what decision led you to that consequence and what response to the difficulty you chose. If it helps, put it in columns like I did below with accompanying examples.

        WORST MOMENTS     DECISION RESPONSIBLE      ACTION TAKEN

  1. Unable to pay rent      No regular income                     Found PT job
  2. Rejected by agent        Not prepared for audition       Prepared for next
  3. Lack of support            Neglect of networking              Attending mixers

While I wish each one of you a successful and satisfying year ahead in your career, I respectfully remind you the work and responsibility of creating success as an actor is yours. Forget the notion of “it’s who you know.” There is no lucky break to be found you didn’t earn in some way. An actor who is brand new to the business is no less capable of creating success if he or she puts together a solid plan and follows the plan as the year begins and all the way through the end of next December.

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