An important letter to read when you’re feeling frustrated

Image

Hi there!

Really glad you’re reaching out. I realize that chatting with me seems kind of silly, so I really appreciate what you’re doing here. Let’s get down to business.

First off, congratulations! I’m so glad that you’ve been taking action towards something that you really want. I understand that you’re not where you want to be right now – don’t worry, I’ll address that shortly. But I want you to know how proud I am of you for getting where you are now. Even if you are far away from the overall goal, you’re taking action. That’s a success. Always celebrate your successes.

Now let’s talk about this negativity you’ve been feeling lately: This is normal. After the honeymoon phase of “Hooray! I’m taking action and everything is wonderful and smells like peaches!” phase is over, you’re bound to run into some obstacles (though it certainly doesn’t hurt to have peaches around the apartment). From here on out, I need you to pay attention to when that negativity creeps in.

Ever hear that negative voice when you reach an obstacle? You’ll hear things like, “You’re not good enough,” or “You’ll never get this done”? I like to call this guy, “asshole voice.” The more you listen to asshole voice, the more you’re going to believe it. And that’s when you’ll find yourself getting more and more frustrated. Hence where you’re at right now.

So what are you supposed to do whenever that voice creeps back in? There are two options:

1) Come find me. Then we’ll have this talk again so I can remind you how awesome you are. Remember what we talked about in the beginning? How happy I am for you that you’re taking action and for getting to this point? I’m not saying this just to kiss your ass. (Although you do have a great ass, if I say so myself). I’m saying it because it’s TRUE. You are awesome, and you’re doing awesome work. Don’t listen to asshole voice telling you otherwise.

That being said, there are going to be times when you don’t feel like listening to me (which is outrageous!…but understandable). When this happens, you have another option.

2) Find a friend to talk to. A real friend. Someone who always listens and doesn’t criticize you. We have lots of friends who are easy to reach out to. But for this specific example, I want you to get in touch with one of those people who always makes you feel awesome.

I don’t wanna be too redundant here, but please, remember the message: You are kicking ass right now. Try to remind yourself of this when asshole voice comes back.

Talk soon,

Your inside voice who gives you confidence.

Okay everyone, I just want to say a few words about the above letter.

*Guys in the back from last week grumble because they thought we were done*

Don’t worry, I’ll be quick!

*Guys in the back cheer!*

Sometimes we forget about our voice that gives us confidence. Usually it’s because we’ve encountered new obstacles that we didn’t consider when mapping out our goals. This is when asshole voice creeps in and tells us that we’re not going to be able to achieve them.

Bullshit.

Find that inner voice who loves us. If you’re feeling too frustrated to listen, find a friend!  It’s always helpful to get encouragement from others.

And it doesn’t hurt to tell yourself you have a nice ass.

How to stay on track when you’re stressed and busy

Cops

photo credit: Stu Grieve

Ever make these faces when you’re feeling stressed out?

Better question: Can you find which one is me?! 

Welcome back everyone. Glad you all could spend some of your Friday with me.

Question: Who here has a busy schedule? *Scans the crowd* All of you? Even my unemployed friends in the back? Excellent. This will relate to all of you. (Though I hope you guys in the back get jobs. Soon.)

I get stressed a lot. I usually can’t go to bed without thinking about the million and ten things to do the following day. Heaven forbid I actually have to work the next day. That means I have even less time to be productive and efficient.

*Guys in the back of the crowd start grumbling*

Sorry, sorry. I’m very grateful for my survival job.

*Guys in the back mention that I tend to complain a lot about my survival job*

HEY. Let’s stay on track.

Where was I? Oh yes, being busy and freaking out. Let’s take a look at my past week: On Sunday night, I was stressing out. I had to work on Monday, squeeze in a workout, and attend a meeting right after. Tuesday I had class, an important phone call, and another workout. Wednesday I had work. Possibly a workout after. Thursday and Friday were less busy. But let’s be serious – it would be forever until Thursday would come.

Fast forward to Monday night. Busy day was out of the way. But I still needed to go over lines for my class scene. And then I had that phone call right after. Not to mention that checking for auditions would take twice as long, since I missed checking them on Monday. Let’s not talk about the ten or twelve other important things I had completely forgotten about.

Fast forward to Tuesday night: I missed my workout because I was too busy being stressed over the fact that I couldn’t get everything done this week.

Fast forward to Wednesday night. Work is done. Workout is done. I can sleep in tomorrow, and get ready to catch up on…what’s this? An important email ? I have an audition on Friday? And I won’t be getting the sides until Thursday? I thought I was done stressing out?

You get the idea.

We all are busy. I’m sure many of us have weeks like this on a regular basis. When having a jam packed schedule, it’s important to focus on “what needs to be done now.” If you are constantly thinking about “what needs to be done for the entire week,” you’re going to stress out. Trust me. I know a guy who does this all the time.

*More grumbling from the back*

Ah! Good to see you, Peter. Didn’t realize you made it out tonight.

I also want to address how to keep track of the week ahead without worrying about it every day. Or worse, not thinking about the whole week and then forgetting about important events. Here’s what I recommend: Write down everything you have to do for the entire week. Then figure out what day of the week you’re going to get them done. Do your best not to list too many things for the same day! In my accountability group (“My Big Year,” run by the one and only Courtney Rioux), we were discussing how most of us tend to do too much at once. When this happens to me, I get upset I haven’t finished everything. A negative voice comes in my head. It says something like, “Really, Tony? You went another day without working on your Actor’s Business Blueprint that you paid $300 for? How are you supposed to be a successful actor if you can’t even devote thirty minutes to the program you vowed to work on every day?”

Do not listen to negative chatter that you’ve made up in your head. Ignore it and continue being the awesome person that you are.

Admittedly, I hadn’t made my list this week. It made things much harder and stressful than they needed to be.

That’s all for tonight. Now go out there get things done! If you don’t get to everything, that’s okay! Acknowledge what happened. Then make a plan to move forward. It’s that easy.

I’ll see you all next Friday. (Even you, Peter.)

What winter 2014 has taught me

This has been the worst winter I’ve ever endured. Here’s why:

-The cold temperatures have put me in a poor mood. My motivation which is usually abundant has been decreasing steadily.

-I can’t use my back steps. How the hell am I supposed to get to Dairy Queen if there’s a chance I’ll die trying to get there?

Back steps

On the plus side, I don’t think anyone is going to rob us anytime soon. 

-It’s too cold for Dairy Queen. Not only that, they’ve been closing early most days due to the weather.

-I’ve had to endure multiple cases of cabin fever. I can’t even look out the window without seeing signs of winter everywhere. Icicles

That’s my roommate Eric. Note that he’s not standing up straight, yet one of the icicles still reached his level. 

-Personal belongings are now impossible to use. Guys. Don’t leave your bike outside.

Bike

Note the right handlebar. 

Or your television.

Television

Have you had enough negativity yet?

Last week I talked about how focusing on the negatives aren’t going to get you anywhere. By looking for them, you’re going to keep finding more. However if you flip this around and try focusing on the positives, you’ll find those too. Even if you’re upset and sad because the weather sucks, try looking for the positives. You’ll find ’em.

Speaking of which, let’s look at some positives regarding the weather.

-Have you seen the ten day forecast?? We have two days in the forties coming up?? Maybe even reaching the fifties? I was chatting with someone at work recently about fifty degree weather. “Can you even remember the last time it was fifty degrees out here?” he asked me. I couldn’t. If I had to guess, I’d say that was back in September.

-Opening day for the Cubs is just seven weeks from today. Baseball season means my neighborhood comes back to life. It means feeling the energy around Wrigley Field every time I walk/bike by (which is pretty much daily). I couldn’t be more excited.

-The cold weather has brought Chicago closer together. This winter has given me a whole new outlook on weather. Admittedly, I’ve unintentionally started competing with friends from back home (“You think thirty degrees is cold?!”) At the same time, Chicago is going through this together. We can either put up with the cold weather or we can move. And I’m sure many of us aren’t moving. (Unless you are. In which case, I’ll take any and all layers you have.) But most of us will continue to endure it. Call me cocky, but that makes us stronger and more awesome.

But don’t call me cocky.

Sometimes it takes the bad times to appreciate the good ones. We certainly don’t like going through break ups, financial struggles, or working stressful jobs. But once we move from that, we’re in a better place. And we can better appreciate our current situation because of the old ones. And for those of you think, “I’ll never be able to move forward,” you’re incorrect. You can always move onto to something better. Just as long as you’re taking action instead of sitting around and feeling sad.

One more positive: That bike and television? Not mine. Seriously, who leaves a TV outside in the middle of February??

Now if you’ll excuse me. It is once again a whopping twenty agrees above zero, which means it’s warm enough for Dairy Queen.

When others are succeeding but you’re not

Drink if you’ve ever said the following:

“I’m ___ years old. I should have stopped working at ______ by now.”

“I’m ___ years old. That’s too old to do _______, which is what I really want to do.”

“I’m ___ years old. I should be [a full time actor or something else] by now.”

“[Name of a professional athlete] is only ____ years old?! He’s younger than I am!”

And then there’s my favorite:

“Why am I the only one of my friends who is single?”

There’s a couple of themes here. One is that we’re all supposed to have done something specific by a certain time in our lives. The other is that we should be a certain way because that’s what others are doing.

Bowling

Speaking of “achieving” at a young age, that’s me (far right) with a bowling trophy. 

I came across this quote earlier this week: “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” – Jon Acuff.

As much as I dislike clichés, this one I agree with: We’re all on our own timeline. Yes, it’s easy to get frustrated or jealous when someone younger than you has what you’re longing for. I’ve worked with actors who are much younger than me, and already have their resume filled up: Singing on Broadway, guest starring on a network television show, working with theatre companies that I would kill to work with…the list goes on. Focusing on what you don’t have isn’t going to get you anywhere. In fact, it will probably leave you feeling more unhappy.

To tie this together with the being single theme, here’s some text that I stole from Courtney Rioux’s latest blog post, “How to find your soul mate”:

“If you focus on what you don’t have, you’ll just get more of that.  Focus on lack of love, and you’ll keep going on crappy dates with people who aren’t right for you.  Focus on the love you already have in your life, and you’ll find more love in your life.”

Check out the rest of her blog. Especially if you’re single and crying as you read this. (Though please try not to cry. My blogs aren’t that depressing.)

One last thought: When it comes to age, you definitely shouldn’t be upset you haven’t achieved all your goals yet. However, there’s a difference between taking action and sitting/waiting. Say you’re looking to book a commercial. Have you been auditioning? Have you made progress with agents and casting directors? If you have, you don’t need to be upset. But if you’re upset that you haven’t booked and haven’t applied to agencies because you don’t want to quit your 9-5 job, that’s a bit different. If you’re auditioning a lot and not booking, be patient!

Oh, and then give me a call. We clearly both have the time to hangout.