Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'll Take the High Road

There are times when people will treat us badly or try to take advantage of us. This can start at an early age…maybe a kid or sibling knocks over your sand castle just for spite or you get teased in school. (The impact of bullying and how to prevent or stop it has become a very popular topic.) Maybe your teenager picks a fight, someone you’re dating may lie or cheat, someone who works for you might embezzle, someone may offer a freelancer a rate he/she knows is too low, a contractor you hire might try to rip you off, someone takes the parking space you’ve been waiting for…the list goes on and on.

People who do cruel or horrible things or commit crimes take the low road. Why? Maybe they have a personality disorder such as narcissism with a sense of entitlement; maybe they think they’ll feel better about themselves if they can make others feel bad. In reality, they’re just making themselves look bad or even pathetic.

Then there’s the Golden Rule…treat others the way you’d like them to treat you. Does a Low Roader who, say, throws worms in a kid’s hair really want worms smashed in his hair? How can Low Roaders look themselves in the mirror or sleep at night? How can they maintain self-respect?

The temptation to respond in kind, to follow the misbehavior low road by retaliating, can be strong. An eye for an eye, and all that. Or is it better to turn the other cheek?

Taking the high road can be difficult. You can have personal integrity, or sink to the Low Roader’s level. You can react in the moment out of frustration/anger/hurt, etc., or believe that karma exists and will catch up with the Low Roader in the near future. Or you can hope some Low Roaders will eventually realize the error of their ways, seek help if they need it and join those who travel the high road.

eHow-How to take the High Road the High Road, a path to self-respect

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Deciding or Stagnating

Sometimes you have so many options when making a decision that doing nothing seems easier. It’s certainly less scary. But not making a decision when you know you need to, or stagnating, is actually a decision in itself. Maybe there's no obvious best or right choice. Maybe you’re worried about making a mistake, or fear change in general. The start of a new year is a good time to revisit choices you’ve been considering or need to make.

Some issues I need to decide:
--Updating office technology: My PC is old (by current standards) and has never been the same since the McAfee automatic update debacle. As exciting as having a new PC is, there’s also a lot of work/time involved transferring data, loading software and setting it up….I get easily frustrated if instructions don’t work as expected and I have to troubleshoot. My laser printer is 10 years old and has been screaming like a banshee. What brand and kind do I buy, or do I go for an all-in-one to replace the aging one I have? Searching for options and deals on the Internet makes me dizzy.
--Do I keep pursuing things that haven't yielded hoped for results? For me, that’s selling a book. Should I keep sending out manuscripts, and if so, which ones where? Write another? Or should I change my approach, and if so, to what? Or should I focus my efforts on areas where I’ve had more success?
--There’s debate about how many agents an actor should have. Some say “a few,” others “as many as you can get.” Do I stay with the ones I have, or add more if possible and then drop others, or discuss going exclusive? Some casting directors say talent should be exclusive. Would an exclusive agent work hard enough on my behalf to make up for opportunities I’d miss by not having access to agencies’ private client auditions? Assuming agents were interested :-), how would I choose? There are so many factors to weigh...
--Updating my commercial and narration demos. Which demo producer will help me get the best, most marketable sound? Which copy selections do I use to show enough yet not too much range?

What’s working in your life and what isn’t? Consider making a list of the decisions you need to make…career, home management, relationships, how you spend your time. Prioritize the list. If necessary, break each decision into steps, such as completing research or asking for advice, and set deadlines for completion. Isn’t it time to move forward instead of standing still? Someday is now.

How to Enhance Your Decision Making Skills

Demystifying Decision Making

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When the Cat’s Away…

You know what comes after “When the cat’s away….” “The mice will play.”

Those who are gainfully employed have a boss, manager or supervisor to keep them on track. Fear of losing your job, not getting promoted or receiving a bad performance review can be a great motivator. There are consequences for showing up late, not completing assignments or meeting goals on deadline.

But what happens when the boss is on vacation or at an out of town conference? Does every worker bee slave away just as diligently, or take longer lunches, spend more time surfing the ‘net and/or leave early? How can management ensure that employees are working to their full capacity?

Telecommuters present another challenge to productivity. A company I worked for wanted us to report what we were doing in 15 minute increments. You can imagine how long that lasted. Others require weekly status reports. Lawyers (and others) use software to keep track of time they can bill to clients. But how do bosses and clients know the bills or reports are completely accurate?

Some workers simply have more drive to stay on task no matter the distraction or opportunity not to. I believe the more people respect their bosses or those who are in charge, the less likely they are to goof off. Conversely, the less they trust those who tell them what to do, the more likely they are to play as much as they can get away with. To do the bare minimum to keep their jobs.

The Gainfully Unemployed are both cat and mouse. It’s up to us to keep ourselves moving forward. Especially at this time of year, when gigs in most industries dry up (though I did have an audition this morning).  Also, there are those holiday chores to complete.  So many parties where one could overindulge, which can make it difficult to start the next day off right. 

I could slack off from now until the second week in January. Instead, I’m choosing to make a list of projects to complete. Most aren’t immediately income producing, but will prepare me to meet the new year ready to go and to earn.  I'll make time for plenty of fun and frolic, but won't let these weeks get away from me. What will you do?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Face your fears

A very talented fellow lawyer dreams of being an actress, but fears she won’t be able to pay her rent. Writer friends keep saying they want to be published, but don't even finish a book much less enter contests or submit their work. Some maintain they'd like to start a business or change jobs, yet hem and haw.  (Others opine about wanting to end unsatisfying or dysfunctional relationships, but that’s a topic for another day.)  

Maybe those who wish to pursue creative or new endeavors fear rejection or failure, and/or maybe their families/significant others don’t understand or approve.  But staying afraid is debilitating.  By making excuses about why this isn't a good time or why we can't have what we truly want without even going for it, we're letting ourselves down.

The cliches hold true: you only have one life to live, you aren’t getting any younger, if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. I believe if there’s something you really want to do, if you find yourself frequently thinking about or talking about accomplishing X, Y, or Z, start doing it. The pursuit of most dreams doesn’t require you to jump in the pool only to be shocked by cold water. You can dip your toe in.  Each baby step you take should help you gain the knowledge, courage and confidence to keep going and take more and bigger steps. Just keep moving forward.  For example, the lawyer can take an on camera class to have something current on her resume, get new headshots, and then interview with agents.  She doesn't have to simply quit her job, but can start saving money toward that end.  

Take the time to prepare and do the groundwork. The writer probably shouldn’t simply dash off a few chapters and expect to get an agent. But the writer who learns her craft and about the industry can bolster her courage and learn to accept that rejection is just a part of the business. Find support, either via trusted friends or online. Those who want to start a business, for example, can uncover all sorts of information about how to write a business plan, start networking, etc. Set specific goals and deadlines, and share them with your supporters.

There’s no time like the present. What can you do today to face your fears?

How to Face your Fears
Face your Fears
Positive Path Network

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ho Ho Ho?

Many people (many of whom are gainfully employed) look forward to this time of year...the holidays. They cheerfully bake, send cards, shop, wrap gifts, attend parties and indulge, take time off of work or school and christmas carol with abundant glee. Others get overwhelmed by the busy busy-ness of all they have to do and find the season more stressful than fun.

Others, like me, fall in between. We aren't quite as jolly about December, but don't stress out, either. Corporate America (including the publishing and advertising industries) seems to pretty much shut down from Thanksgiving through the first week of January. So there are fewer auditions (though I've had two so far this week, yea) and thus fewer jobs and less income. Chances are very slim I'll hear about outstanding manuscript submissions or obtain any new clients.

While I'm glad I still get sent out for mom roles, I see younger, wrinkle-free whippersnappers and know I've gotten a year older. It's challenging for me to appreciate the many things I have accomplished and not think about the things I haven't.

I enjoy down time (my DVR is filled with shows I"m looking forward to watching), but not wasting time or extended periods without feeling productive. So I'm going to make the most of the holiday slowdown by preparing for the new year. I'll clean out all my files (paper and computer), closets and drawers. I'll catch up and spend quality time with friends, and tackle the projects on my list without deadlines that still need to be done. This year, I'm also rehearsing every day for a musical revue, completing a non-fiction project and working on the Web site for that plus researching what kind of new computer to get (and because there are so many options and features that in itself could take a month...any advice?).

I'll also set goals for January so I can start off 2011 on the right foot instead of exhausted from the hustle bustle. What's your holiday plan?

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

Surviving the Holidays: ezine

Surviving the Holidays: Know Thyself