Friday, August 21, 2009

Balance and Negotiation

Friday morning musings...

I hear this a great deal, and it came up again yesterday, so I wanted to address it.  The joys of the day job and how you balance your craft, your career and how you pay your rent til your career allows you more flexibility!

This was the statement from an actor that pin-pointed it: "I started a bar tending job to pay my rent, and I looked down at my watch and 10 years flew by."

Many actor/singers I know are scared to death that they will be in that position and the survival job will take over their life.  In that fear, your life can turn into a tailspin and you end up spreading yourself too thinly and nothing happens except exhaustion and disillusionment.

So how do we avoid this? How do we find balance, find LIFE, find survival and still develop craft and build toward making a living in our craft?

First, nothing is promised.  When nothing is promised, it's all in the negotiation.  But the negotiation is with SELF.

These are just my ideas so take them as that.  If you can use them, please do! If it gives you an idea or creates a portal for you to develop something for yourself, fabulous! DO IT!

Negotiation with self simply means you prioritize your needs/wants as well as necessities and optionals.  There is NOTHING in stone thus the ongoing negotiations!

I am always amazed with talking with artists how rigid they become with themselves.  We must allow for fluidity and flexibility in our lives and psyches to order to accept changes and challenges and new twists and turns. There are no rights or wrongs; there are no blacks and whites.  There is just YOU and what you need to do for YOU!

You are not, and I repeat NOT selling out your craft if you have to concentrate on a day job or two to get ahead financially for a bit.  Sit down with yourself!  Make a date with yourself - take yourself out for coffee and negotiate your life.  Write out your dreams and goals - start wide and open and gradually draw it in.  It will give you the large view and the specific day to day goals.

Decide to re-negotiate your needs/goals every 2 or 3 months, or every 6 months. Whatever makes sense to you and for you!  Write it in your day book and make a date with yourself to do this re-negotiation!

Let me give you an example:  You have an opportunity to work a day job that will give you decent money and lots of hours and you need to pay off some bills.  There is nothing wrong with taking those 50 hours a week and commit to it, because it is going to put you ahead financially.  No, you aren't going to have time/energy to commit to much else. That's okay.  You re-negotiate in 2 months.  So, your focus is your day job.  You decide you will read a play a week or listen to a new opera a week or a new score or musical a week.  You will not focus on classes or lessons right now, but will keep your craft going through the research and learning of listening/reading.  You will work, be with friends, laugh a little, and not feel guilty for this balance!!!

You have your next re-negotiation date written in your daybook - and at that time, perhaps you can negotiate 10 less hours a week on the day job; Start regular voice lessons again; or semi-regular lessons and a 4 week acting class; then add one audition a week;  Or if audition season is coming up for opera, that is your negotiation.  YOU decide.  If it isn't working, you can re-negotiate!

EVERYTHING is negotiable.  You have to decide what is NECESSARY for you in that time frame, commit to it, recognize you CANNOT do EVERYTHING and focus of what you need to do.  When that "doing" is in a good place, then you can shift your focus elsewhere.

This allows you focus, flexibility, a chance to breathe, a chance to live, a chance to discover without feeling pressured or guilty.  How you live your life is YOURS.  It belongs to no one else. If you are willing to be honest with yourself and re-visit your priorities, goals, dreams, realities, you will discover what is important and why, and how you want to live and what you want to do.

Don't try to do everything.  Take a breath.  Negotiation can happen as often as you need to.  I recommend giving at least a 2 month umbrella to allow for a pattern to emerge.  If you need to, start with that.  It gives you a short term goal and you will look forward to achieving within that 2 month period and what the next term will show you!

This creates focus and determination and a sense of possibility!  And if there is a sense of possibility, there is a reality that is can happen!!!

Your negotiation power is with you.  It is for you and with you. You just need to claim it and DO IT!  Then you will never wake up in 10 years and wonder what happened to your craft and your artistry.  You will have been living it all along!


  1. Wonderful post, and it's all so true.

    We only live once, and we can easily fritter it away in endless and pointless activity for no other reason than a vague fear of the unknown. Or we can make deliberate choices and change the course of our lives.

    I love the idea of the negotiation dates. I'll have to try those.

  2. It's also okay to change your mind and decide you want money. Or to change your mind back again and decide you do want the artistic career. This reminds me of a time years ago that I ran into a friend who had been my classmate as an acting major in college. I ran into her on the street in Manhattan and asked her how the progress was going on auditioning. She told me that she had discovered that she loved making money. She was all excited and eyes were lighting up as she told me that she wanted to $10,000 in the bank before she was 30. I don't know why that little encounter stands out in my mind all these years. I guess because at that time I never thought of money as being something to seek. I never saw her again after that, but who knows, maybe she went back to the theater. Or maybe she is now a millionaire. What matters is, like you said, she worked it out for herself.