I can’t tell you the number of times when I was growing up that I heard the Zig Ziglar quote, “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude, that will determine your altitude in life.” And with every major life experience, I started learning appreciating just how true it is.
Plus, it’s just fun to say.
In the creative business, we don’t always have our days clearly set out before us. We’re a bunch of self-motivated people who are constantly trying to make something out of nothing. It can be wonderfully rewarding but also very frustrating.
For me, there are little tricks I’ve learned to maintain a positive attitude. One of them is watching my language. Our language towards something can very much determine our attitude towards it, whether good or bad. We may subconsciously undermine our own enthusiasm for something by using the wrong language. We have to watch it and be proactive about keeping it positive.
Here are six common phrases I’ve heard (or said myself) that I’ve changed to make more positive.
1. “I didn’t book the job” to “I got the opportunity to practice auditioning.”
Yes, it sounds silly. But the fact of the matter is you will not book every job you audition (or interview) for. Auditioning is a skill. It’s a make-believe, uncomfortable environment where people are clearly judging you, determining whether or not the way you smile is worthy of them giving you money while you pretend to be calm, natural, and not desperate for the gig.
No matter how many auditioning classes you take to prepare you for those moments, nothing is as good a learning process as the real thing.
2. “I bombed at the audition” to “I found something specific I can work on for next time”
A couple years ago, I had the world’s worst audition. It was terrible. I wanted to be out of there as much as the people who were auditioning me wanted me out. The only reason I think we all actually finished the audition together was because it was in the Midwest and we were all to polite to put me out of my misery more quickly.
But instead of assuming I’m the world’s worst actress and promising myself to never audition again, I thought about what happened. Why was I so terrible that day? What happened? What exactly did I do that made myself (and everyone) so uneasy during the audition?
I had specific things I could pinpoint and work on to do better next time. And guess what? I’ve had plenty of successful auditions since.
3. “I can’t afford that class” to “I will look more carefully at what I can cutback on in other financial areas.”
I totally hear you out on this one. Believe me (and my credit card statement), I understand financial stress. There are always tons of people and products actors are asked to invest in. It can be overwhelming to try and understand which one is the best investment.
But the reality of the situation is that this career is an investment. If you’re really tight in your finances, you have to be more careful about where you spend your money. Maybe you cut back on takeout in order to save enough money to pay for that commercial class you need. Sure, it may take you longer to save up, but that class isn’t going anywhere. Or maybe they have options for a work/study program. It may take you longer to get hours and you may have to give up some of your nightly Netflix viewing, but you can find time for the things that are most important to you.
This career is a marathon, not a sprint. So take a breath, figure out a strategy, and do what you gotta do.
4. “There are no good parts for me” to “I have to get creative about showcasing my talent.”
I get it. You’ve got more range than “Bar Patron 4.” Good for you. Most actors do. But nobody is going to walk up to you and hand you a career. You have to show the people who are working in this business what you can do.
If you can write, write yourself a part in a short sketch and film it with some friends. If you can’t write, find yourself a writer friend who will help you out. If you’re more ambitious, you can do what I did and write yourself (and your actor friend) a 10-episode web series that showcases your talent. Raise money for it, get together a team, and produce it. It will take a lot longer but- if you do it right- will be an amazing showcase for you. (Not to mention a ton of fun!)
5. “There’s too much going on. I’m so stressed.” to “I’m lucky to be so in demand right now. I can figure out a way to handle it all.”
The old adage, “When it rains, it pours” didn’t come from nowhere. The nature of this crazy world seems to be that there’s either tons to do or nothing at all. If you’re lucky enough to be really busy right now, don’t forget to take the time to enjoy it. Yes, you’re getting less sleep than usual. Yes, you’re not getting to the gym as much. Yes, you’re eating more takeout food. That doesn’t mean you need to be stressed every moment. This moment will pass like any other, so don’ t take it for granted.
If you’re decent at organization (or know someone who is), use this as an opportunity to create a calendar to keep everything in order. So much of stress comes from uncertainty- and better organization can help immensely with that.
6. “There’s nothing going on. I’m bored.” to “I’m lucky to have a chance to relax and unwind before the next big whirlwind of work.”
You need downtime to get back in touch with yourself. You need time to think about and figure out what you want. You need quiet time to listen to your body and mind’s wants and desires. You need time to be a normal human being who hangs out on a weekend and grabs a drink with friends. You need time to sleep and workout. Enjoy your downtime and take advantage of it.
I understand how cheesy this could sound. I’m not asking you to walk around and pretend everything is ok if it is not. It’s completely natural to be frustrated and immediately have a visceral and angry response to some outer stress. Believe me… I know. Just ask the poor sap on the phone with me when I was trying to figure out some financial stuff with my bank the other day.
I’m not always great about staying patient or positive. But I am great at practicing small ways to slowly become the person I’ve always wanted to be. I want to be more patient and positive, so I will make the small attitude shift of watching my language towards something in order to do so.
So happy attitude shifting. Let me know how it goes!