Dear Actors…..

Hi. It’s Tony.

You might know me, you might not. (Either way it’s cool.)

I just wanted to share some thoughts with you as a 29 year old actor, still working day jobs, and very much looking forward to…not working day jobs. I’m not where I want to be yet. And I have my share of “Am I doing this right?” days. That said – I know I’m exactly where I need to be and exactly on the right track.

Three years ago, I started reading personal development books. “Tony… I’ve never heard of personal development.” Here’s the Tony-version: Personal development involves books, materials, and other types of formal/informal training that either give you a better understanding of yourself or of others. You’ll learn about these things in a positive and productive way. With consistent application, you become more realistic about your goals while remaining optimistic about the obstacles. 

Personal development has changed my life in a lot of ways. But if I had to sum it up in one word, it’d be this one: confidence. I feel better about myself. I feel better about how I look. I feel unstoppable when it comes to my goals. It’s pretty bad ass. And because of personal development, I’ve found I bring a better “Tony 2.0” to my acting career. I’m unapologetic for who I am as a person, so I’m unapologetic when I audition. I’m more confident when presenting myself. And if I mess up in class – eh. It makes me more human. Not a bad thing at all. 

This wonderful thing I found isn’t something everyone knows about. I see a lot of people who could be crushing it in their field, if only they had more confidence. But fear not, friends. I got good news: Personal development can be learned by anyone. In fact, you’re hearing this from a guy who use to loathe reading. (Unless the title started with “Harry Potter and….”) 

So if you’re not a reader, not into personal development, and haven’t yet gained that confidence that you year for, I’ll share a little secret with you that I picked up. This is just for you. And it’s this – You are awesome. 

Seriously. You’re a badass. Think about it: You’re purusing an acting career. You’re here for a reason. And unless you find yourself hating the stage, hating the camera, or dreading the thought of your friends and family all crowding on the couch to watch your debut on Chicago Fire, please know you’re doing the right thing and you’re on the right path. (Especially if you think you’re, like, way behind from where you should be.)

So do yourself a favor – realize right now – yes, RIGHT NOW – that you’re a badass and don’t need to apologize for any “imperfections” that may or may not exist. You’re not doing the class a disservice by bringing your weird interpretation to the role. You’re not bothering the casting associates who are sitting in for your general call. If they are bothered, it’s because they need a career change – not you. So take charge. Acknowledge your inner awesomeness. You. Fucking. Deserve it. 

It’s time you acknowledged it. Actually, you should have started this yesterday, but I’ll cut you some slack. So please. There’s a lot of people out there waiting for you to show up, be you, and even pay you for doing what you love. 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

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PS – If you’re a Salem State University student, please hear these words…but also realize you’re on the right track. After sitting in and chatting with you guys this past week, I’ve found that you guys are well aware of just how fucking awesome you are. Kudos, my friends.

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their own terms.

He also loves to write blogs on how to do this. 

Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life, or to inquire if he can do some writing for you!  You can reach him attony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you hit that “share” button for friends and family to see 😉 

“You might as well win in your own fantasies.” 

I don’t dislike work.

I wake up early on my days off. I exercise. I set aside business hours for acting, writing, and big picture goals. Unfortunately, most of this list doesn’t pay much. (Or anything.) I don’t dislike work. I just like a lot of work that doesn’t pay.

In January of this year, one of my part time jobs showed a decrease in shifts. I realized this would likely continue and that I would need to figure something out and soon. So I launched what I called my “creative income pursuit” – a search for day jobs working for people and places that inspire and uplift me. To no one’s surprise, there’s a lot more places hiring right now that would do anything but inspire and uplift me. And with each passing day, that negative voice looooves to chime in with his thoughts on my well being:

“Tony. You still haven’t figured this out yet. You know that, right? You can’t just keep doing this ‘work fun jobs’ thing forever. And if you really want to be happy, start dating, and buy new workout equipment, you’re going to have to, like, start making more money, And besides, how do you expect to be a well rounded human outside of acting if you’re not making any money? Seriously Tony…” 

Fortunately, I love distracting myself with positive and uplifting videos and audios. I found another good one shortly after one of my many spirals of negative thoughts the other night. It was from the monthly Dallas Travers Hot Seat Coaching Call that I get to from my Thriving Artist Circle membership. While coaching an actor, she shared a gem that she picked up from her spiritual psychology training: 

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I also like to write down cool quotes I hear and then hang them up in my apartment

Isn’t it fascinating how quickly we go to the negative? 

I often refer to that negative voice as a person. I call him Fred. Fred likes to “keep me safe” by pointing out all the gloom and doom scenarios that might or might not happen. Meanwhile, there’s another voice. I call her “cute girl who likes my hair.” What’s great about cute-girl is that she is much more kind and loving than Fred. 

“Hey you! First off, I love your blogs. They’re so funny! You’re adorable. Anyway, just wanted to say I noticed that you the other day you actually submitted for four gigs yesterday that you prefer not to work. That’s great that you’re taking action, even though it doesn’t exactly fall in line with your “creative income pursuit.”  Also, did I see you applied for two writing gigs and two talent agenicies in the past twenty four hours? Look at youuuu! Did I mention I love your hair…?” 

Let me be clear: Both voices are fake. Neither are real people talking…So…why not make up something awesome?

Let’s be happy.

Let’s go get ‘em. 

***   ***   ***

Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their own terms.

He also loves to write first person blogs on how to do this. 

Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life, or to inquire if he can do some writing for you!  You can reach him attony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you hit that “share” button for friends and family to see 😉 

How to (Professionally) Put Yourself First

 

Experience #1:

It was a shit day. And it was only 10:06 am.

My internet bill was unusually high. I had two emails informing me of projects I participated in that needed fixing. An employer was asking me to come in early. Oh, and then my bike got a flat….I wasn’t exactly feeling “authentically positive,” like I strive to be.

I got another call from the employer. They were requesting a new time change for the day.

“Oh sure! No problem.”

This wasn’t the answer I wanted to give. I don’t like changing my schedule. But I wanted this job. And I needed the money. After realizing the other things I needed to get done that day (not to mention a new thing where I had to fix my bike,) I realized this wasn’t going to work. I called back the employer, requested an alternative time, and worked out a compromise.

Experience #2

Different day.

I got a text before bed from a different employer. It said my weekend shifts had been reassigned and that I would now be working in the suburbs. Since I don’t have a car, I typically avoid these shifts. I replied back, respectfully declining the assignment. They answered with an offer to reimburse me for travel. I started to realize that not only was this a longer shift (aka – more money) but it could score me brownie points with the company.

I almost took it. But again, I remembered other responsibilities I had that day. I respectfully declined again….they offered me back my original shifts.

Putting yourself first

It’s easy to think we have to do what others want. I find this goes double when we’re younger and “working our way up” to some of our goals (particularly financial ones). We don’t want to upset or offend. We really don’t want to lose potential income. But in both these experiences, I realized that I could make double the amount of money I was currently making, but still go to bed stressed out with things like scheduling and less time on goals and personal projects.

I needed to take charge. Even if it meant earning less.

When you find yourself wanting to put yourself first – that’s okay. Remember to a) be professional, and b) be upfront with your communication. And c), realize that as you do this, you’re exercising a form of self care that will allow you to better serve others.

 

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Note: You can also put yourself first by going to the movies for the first time in six years…though you might be surprised that the seats have gotten MUCH nicer….also, “Hidden Figures” is awesome. 

 

Go get ‘em, friends.

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their terms.

He also loves to write first person blogs on how to do this. 

Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life, or to inquire whether or not he can do some writing for you!  tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you hit that “share” button for friends and family to see 😉 

I got shit done. It didn’t make me happy.

I woke up early. (It’s okay. I love waking up early.) 

I ate my favorite breakfast (chocolate oatmeal), listened to Wendy Braun tell me I’m amazing. Then listened to Mark Manson tell me to get my shit together. 

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I love my mornings like this – desk is cluttered (along with a Vitamin D pill), yet it’s got all the nutrients for the mind and body that I need. It’s awesome. It makes me happy. 

I went to Starbucks. 

I got shit done. I drank coffee. Then more coffee. (I love the gold card. I really do.) 

I went home. 

I got more shit done. (Not as much as I would have liked, but enough.) I listened to the Red Sox Spring training game. Tim Neverett retweeted me. I got an industry discount for a show this weekend. (My friends are awesome – thank you.) I texted friends. I exercised. I even went the extra mile and bundled up, got out my bike, and did a late night (for me) grocery run. 

Oh, and did I mention that I also saved money by skipping my original plan to take the train somewhere fun and creative like WeWork or Front Bar (where I would have paid more for coffee)? 

I. Crushed. My. Day. 

….and to be honest…it sucked. 

“Wait. Tony. You just just bragged about crushing it…why did it suck?.” 

It wasn’t until I did my late night grocery run that I realized how much I hate staying indoors all afternoon. I hate not having something to work on projects outside of agent submissions and day job gigs. There was a time when I loved to just lounge around and chill. That day is long gone. Today, I need something to do. Something meaningful. (Though, throw a script in my hands to memorize and suddenly I “need more down time.”) 

I realized that I’m wired in a way – or however the hell you wanna label it – that makes me want to do things maybe a little differently. I love my morning routine. I love getting work done from places outside of my apartment. But that’s not enough. Truth be told, I got revitalized by biking up the street to Aldi to get groceries in a sketchy part of town. I didn’t even mind that it took me a few extra minutes to unlock my bike because one of my lights needed fixing. (Don’t worry – I fixed it.) 

I like getting out. I like getting shit done. 

And it’s okay if you don’t. 

What matters is that you’re aware of what makes you tick and what turns you on.. In all senses. (Sorry, family friendly audience.) What matters is that you set a routine that’s obtainable and sustainable. It gets your own shit done and makes you happy. 

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I was my happiest self the week prior when I took advantage of getting some work done from WeWork….the coffee helps.

I hope you start to recognize that, my friends. Because you deserve to be your happiest self in the most authentic and awesome way possible. 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their terms. Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life at tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you share his content with friends and family.

Be you. Not your friend.

Actor friends. Stop me if you heard this one. 

You did a show. It went great. You loved your cast. The show closes. Next thing you know, someone from your cast goes on to book a bunch of awesome things….

-A role with your all time favorite theatre company

-A speaking role on a Chicago television show

-Another speaking on a non Chicago television show. 

Meanwhile, you were…

-Working in more shows, but not ones that were getting the attention or publicity as your friend’s

-Continue to work day jobs that you don’t like. 

-Later find yourself in between projects and embarrassed to answer the question, “So…what are you working on right now?” 

I’m a big fan of Marie Forleo. She spoke about comparison in a recent episode of “Marie TV” (which you can watch in full here). I’ve included some of my favorite quotes: 

“There are not limited spots on the podium.” 

“[The comparison impulse] is addictive, deadly, and will destroy your happiness if you let it.”

“People say, ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ I’ve called it ’The hamburgler of happiness!’”  

When one person is succeeding next to us in our field, It’s very easy to get upset. But here’s the really crazy part of all this – most of the time we don’t bother to examine why that person is ahead of us. Personally I think our energies are better directed at our own goals and tasks, but let’s pretend “you can’t help it” for a minute….(For the record, I think that you “can’t help it” it’s bullshit, but I’m in a good mood and still have some coffee left, so I’ll play….)

I recently saw two different successful actor friends pop up on the internet for multiple theatre companies I want to work with. Wanna know what I discovered? They’ve been doing theatre in Chicago for a while. Like, a long while. We’re talking my list of top five favorite Chicago theatre companies when before they had hit double digits in age. Wanna know what I was doing before I was ten years old? Drawing pictures of baseball players. And watching baseball. Really anything that could make me believe that I was going to be a baseball player. 

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Sorry guys. 29 Year Old Tony is not going to be a baseball player. But he pulls off this Red Sox winter hat pretty well, in my opinion…

My friends. It is a waste of time to look outside your own lane. It’s yours. Besides, once I start booking roles with said theatre companies….is it really going to matter that I arrived at the same finish line as them just a couple of decades later? 

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In the meantime? I’m okay with being in the email newsletter for Broken Nose Theatre. They’ve been pretty cool to work with 🙂 

I think not. Who knows – maybe we’ll all do a show together. That’d be awesome. 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their terms. Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life at tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you share his content with friends and family.

Get what you want…by not getting what you want

I like when things are perfect. 

While I promote being #notperfect on social media, I continue to get humbling reminders about how I’m still learning to be positive when a wrench gets thrown in my schedule. If things don’t go according to plan – like, exactly according to plan – I freak out and am convinced the day is ruined. 

Take yesterday morning, for example: I woke up. I found it wasn’t raining. I immediately decided I was going to bike to Steppenwolf Front Bar and do my work from there. I love Steppenwolf and knew I had to get out of my apartment to do work. Starbucks just wasn’t cutting it. I had my plan! I bundled up, put on my coat, packed my bag, and threw on my bike helmet. 

…and then realized it had started raining. 

#notperfect

I went back inside, contemplating what to do. I wasn’t pleased. But I had things to do. I decided to just start working from home.

…and proceeded to have one of my most productive mornings in a long time. 

Sometimes we get what we want by not getting what we originally wanted. 

Ever have your plans cancelled due to weather? Or perhaps a change in weekend activities when a friend bails on you? This is the concept in a nutshell. The cool thing is that not only does it teach us to control on the things we can control, but it can help us be more comfortable when this happens with bigger situations. 

I had an awesome plan to intern this summer at a place I really respect and admire. I thought it’d be great if I got it, and was pretty determined to get it. Long story short – I found out that the typical applicant is expected to meet some expectations that I didn’t meet. At first I was pretty upset. Until I remembered this concept. 

Here’s a way to look at your future change of plans, whatever they might be: “I can’t (work there this summer)? Interesting. I wonder what else is now available for me…

The more we grasp this concept, the better we can handle disappointments. The more we can handle disappointments, the more authentically positive we become. 

No bullshit. No faking. No suppressing. 

Doesn’t that sound fun? 

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One of my favorite reminders hanging up on my wall. (I kind of like sticky notes.)

Let’s go get ‘em, friends. 

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their terms. Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life at tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you share his content with friends and family.

How death can bring life into others

Mark Manson is the author of the book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.” As one might expect, it contains a plethora of choice language and is pretty direct and to the point. And yet, it is just as equally beautiful and powerful.  

He begins each chapter with a story. Some personal. Some not. The final chapter contains my favorite: He shares a touching story of the loss of his friend Josh. Manson was 19 years old when he lost him. Manson reveals that after a battle with depression, he came out the other end and eventually started bettering his life – likely in ways, in my opinion, that probably wouldn’t have happened had Josh not passed away. 

A couple of years ago, I wrote about my own experience and hopes after I lost one of my childhood friends, Dave Kendricken. (In the three years or so of writing, this has been by far my most popular post….he was a popular guy, what can I say.)  If you know me, you know I hate pain. I hate when there’s nothing but negatives and I’ll do whatever I can to change it. I wanted to find the positive meaning in the situation. 

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Someone called me “The Happy Guy” earlier that day….I was okay with it. 

First let’s clarify – this is not about pretending that things are fine, or pretending we’re happy when we really need to cry. You can ask the couple sitting next to me on my flight home to verify that. (Thank God I had a window seat.) This also isn’t about pretending that the positive meaning makes the situation a good thing. It means that given we can’t control the situation and we’re allowed to take away the beautiful moments that might never have occurred otherwise. 

When Dave died, I wasn’t happy about it. And today I’m not happy about. What I do feel is an abundance of gratitude that it brought me closer to my family (and some of his family) in a way that I hadn’t felt before. 

So how do both these stories help you? 

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Saw this at an audition last week. Figured it was good luck 🙂 

Manson also shares a dream after Josh passed away where the two of them were chatting. Mark recalls that telling Josh that he was sad that he died. To which Josh replies something along the lines of, “Why are you upset that I’m dead when you’re still so afraid to live?” 

That, my friends, is a beautiful takeaway. 

Imagine for a moment that every reader who read this part started to do things different in their life. Imagine that actors finally stop making money excuses and start finding ways to get seen for commercials and high profile theatre companies. Imagine if aspiring entrepreneurs took the leap and quit their day job (after the accumulated some savings, of course) and began creating the job they always wanted. Imagine that every single person who said, “I can’t do [that thing I really want to do] because of [time, money, etc.]” stated to do that very thing?

Most of us are too afraid to live. Most of us play the safe route. Many of us rob ourselves of we really want to do and what could make us most happy. 

As Manson reminds us – we are all going to die. So if that’s the case…what do we really have to lose? 

Let’s start living my friends. 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their terms. Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life at tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you share his content with friends and family.

What to do when you feel like you’re undeserving (like I did last week)

It’s funny how quickly we can talk ourselves out of something we want. 

I personally experience this a lot when it comes to what other people will think of me. 

“You want to do…what?” 

“Why do you think you deserve to to that?” 

“You do realize you’re a [insert reason here why I can’t have that thing I’m asking for because I’m too young, too behind in my career, etc], right?” 

Of course, these are all thoughts I’ve made up in my head. And yet, they still come to mind quite frequently. 

Which is why I was surprised to find myself turning my bike around to head into the Steppenwolf box office Sunday night. 

It was Opening Night for “Straight White Men.” It wasn’t on their calendar. They weren’t selling tickets. Yet there I was, dismounting my bike, and peeking through the glass to see if the box office was even open. 

They were. 

The following is a close description of what I said upon walking up to the window: 

“Hi! Okay, like, I know this is a long shot, but like….and I know you aren’t exactly selling tickets for tonight’s press opening of Straight White Men but like…do you, maybe, have anything available for tonight’s show?” 

…they didn’t. 

I exited. As I did, I recognized the playwright, Young Jean Lee, exiting the theatre. She was with two other people dressed nicely. They all looked very important – much more importantly than the guy who just asked for tickets to opening night of the show that wasn’t even being advertised. (Side note: This, of course, was my perspective given my situation.) There I was – a non union actor with a non union agent, with a laundry list of Chicago acting goals in his journal back home, who was walking behind them out of the theatre. 

Needless to say – I was not exactly feeling on top of the world. But here’s the crazy part – the box office staff responded in a manner I was NOT expecting:

“Yeah man! Sorry, I got nothing for tonight. But like, yeah! I mean…please come back and see us!” 

He almost seemed apologetic for not having anything for me. For not having any seats for the show that wasn’t even on the calendar. 

Here’s the thing, friends: We come up with all sorts of reasons in our head why we aren’t enough and why we don’t deserve our big, crazy, ridiculous goals. The goals that are literally triple the size of our checking account. And yet, sometimes we still get a kind reply – or an apologetic reply – that it’s just not our time yet – from the Universe. (Or the dude from Steppenwolf Box Office. I need to get his name.) 

Our goals do not dictate our awesomeness. We are awesome and deserving exactly where we are today. 

Oh, and wanna know the best part? 

I may or may not have crashed their after party. Here’s a recap: 

-I mingled with a few of the actors.

-I had an ever so short interaction with playwright Young Jean Lee. 

-I had an awesome chat with some of the costume team.

-I was told by one of the designers from the New York team, “You’re going to be on this stage one day.” 

Here’s the thing: These were nice, awesome and inspiring people. I’m willing to bet they’d be just as nice to any other actor in my position. And yet, it helped. It made me feel deserving. 

But let’s pretend we didn’t crash the after party and didn’t get this reassurance from people we respect and want to emulate. The words I heard that night that gave me so much confidence were something I could have chosen to feel confident about regardless. 

I want you to feel confident regardless of your situation too. 

You are awesome. You are deserving. If you have an opportunity – please take it. 

Sound good? Good. 

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Let’s go get ‘em. 

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their terms. Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life at tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you share his content with friends and family.

Sometimes It’s Better To Keep Your Mouth Shut…When Discussing Goals

Have you ever been drunk at a party? 

As much as I pride myself for building better habits, surrounding myself around more positive people, and becoming the type of person who can reach those big and awesome goals…I’d be lying if I said no to the above question. If you haven’t (or if you just don’t want to admit it), let me paint the scene for you: 

You’re having a great time. Such a great time that you’re suddenly willing to share some gossip with a friend. You even preface it with, “I really shouldn’t be telling you this…” but because you’re in such a great mood, you just have this feeling. That feeling tells you, “Yes. You are right. You should share this information. All other reasoning is irrelevant.” 

Of course, eventually your reasoning comes back. But even looking back you can go back to that feeling and justify why you did what you did. “Oh dear..I shouldn’t have done that. But I can absolutely see why I did that…” 

Now, let’s talk goals. 

Right now there’s a big, juicy goal I’m working on. I can’t believe I’ve even set this. It’s that big. And it’s not cheap. And yet, just last week, I found myself setting up an appointment as an initial first step to making this goal come to fruition. I was feeling awesome, you guys. 

Unfortunately though…I got drunk at a party. 

Okay, no. I wasn’t drunk. I wasn’t even at a party when this happened. And yet I got that same feeling that I could trust someone with this valuable piece of information. So I prefaced it with, “You know, I shouldn’t even been saying this….” and off I went. 

No sooner had I finished sharing this, another person chimed in: “Why wouldn’t you just do [insert the name of something much more reasonable and affordable] instead?” 

The truth was, I had considered this option. Many times. And it doesn’t even compare. It’s like saying, “No, let’s skip getting that amazing bacon double cheese burger from 5 Guys and just make one at home using a frozen patty, microwave some bacon, and use the bread we already have. It’ll be cheaper.” 

Yeah….no. 

Yet, on my bike ride home, all I could think of were the following: 

“She was right, Tony. You really should just do the cheaper option.” 

“Why are you considering that expensive option? How the hell will you ever afford that when you’re having trouble affording more reasonable things?” 

“Have you considered that this just might be a stupid thing for you to want, given your situation?”

And so on and so forth. Until….wait a minute…

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From “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero

What happened to that joyous, energetic feeling that I had a week ago? Why did that suddenly dissolve? And why am I being such a jerk to myself for wanting something that makes me happy? 

Here’s why you don’t share big and awesome goals with people: They don’t have the same understanding that you do. They’re not bad people. They just don’t think the way you do. You could explain every tiny detail with them and they still wouldn’t get it. They might hear your words. But they won’t digest the message. People who don’t aim for big and awesome things like you do aren’t going to hear your words. And that’s okay. 

But you’re not off the hook. 

Here’s the thing about setting big goals: If you’ve made the decision in your mind that you’ll do whatever it takes to get there – you’re going to get it. And when you do, you’re setting an example that it’s possible.  

Set that goal. Let others laugh at you. See how many people are laughing when their mouths are hanging open because they can’t believe you got what you wanted. 

Go after big things. There’s other people who are going to benefit other than you, my friends. It’s a beautiful thing. 

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Having positive mantra cards, like these ones given out by Dallas Travers for her Thriving Artist Circle members, have been a big help 🙂 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

Feeling helpless? (I often do)

My name is Tony Rossi. I suffer from learned helplessness.

I actually forgot this was a thing. I’ve had a plethora of stretches lately where I keep thinking there was something wrong with me for having so many negative thoughts. Then I feel more guilty when I realize that I’m actually allowing myself to be a victim to my circumstances, thoughts, and destructive behavior patterns. 

What the heck is learned helplessness?  

Two smart dudes named Martin and Steven did this interesting experiment with some dogs. I’ll spare you the details (though you can quickly read about it here), but they concluded that sometimes animals refuse to take action to better their situation, even when there are options available. This is based on previous experiences which lead to negative emotions. (Seriously, read about it here. And know that I totally stole some of their words for my free blog, so give this article all the credit.) 

I’ve done this a lot lately. I think how much I can’t stand a job I’m working, but that I have to keep working it because “there’s no other option” that will help me with my acting career. I want to spend more time socializing with friends, but sulk as I stay indoors because seriously, how am I supposed to stick to my health goals when there’s always beer and snacks lying around? Or I want to work with a particular theatre company, but “I just don’t have the availability” so I give up even submitting to them. 

In Tony Rossi terminology, here’s what I’ve discovered with my own learned helplessness: When we don’t have an answer to our pain, we decide that there’s nothing we can do about it. And the scary thing is….there’s often a payoff: We don’t have to take action! In our silly little brains, we think there’s literally no answer. So why waste any energy on taking action that won’t do anything? “It’ll just be a waste of time and I’ll end up more frustrated and disappointed,” we tell ourselves. “Why would I want that?” Then we have a wonderful excuse to get attention from friends, eat as much chocolate as we’d like, and head over to the Jewel-Osco to pick up a discounted pack of Old Style. It’s cheaper there, and we all know that we’re not worthy of buying the Goose Island beer that we actually long for… 

So….what can we do about this? 

Fortunately, yours truly over here has failed at this a lot over. And fortunately I’ve also learned from some of the best authors, life coaches, and personal development leaders since learning about these concepts a few years ago. So allow me to help.

For starters, know that there is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is feeding you lies. These lies likely include…

a) There is no action to take

b) If you do take even the smallest action step, it won’t do anything anyway 

c) You now have have a perfectly valid excuse to eat ice cream and sleep in. 

With all clear indications pointing this way, why would you do anything but this?! 

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“The Entrepreneur Rollercoaster” by Darren Hardy is a great source of inspiration

How to get out of it: The F word. 

Hear me out, friends. We’re about to get a little “woo-woo” here. While I’m not going to google an official definition for you, there are countless books and personal development leaders that will tell you that “faith is the confidence and certainty of the not-yet-seen.” (Source: Anyone and everyone I’ve quoted in my previous blogs in the past three years. And probably Courtney Rioux, just to give her another shout out.) When we have faith, we don’t need evidence that things are going to work out. We just believe it. This of course takes practice. It also takes surrounding yourself with people who think this way. If you spend your time with a bunch of nay sayers, skeptics, or indulge in the plethora of media sources telling you how terrible things always end up, then you’re going to have a difficult time with this one. Otherwise, start to switch up your routine. You might find my #SundayVideos are a good start! 

Finally, remember this: Even after you get really freaking good at this faith thing, you still might fall back into your learned helplessness trap. After all, you probably have more money at this point and can afford some better beer, so the incentives are going to be enticing. Just know that there is still nothing wrong with you. You’ve gotten out of this before. You’ll get out of it again. 

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I like to start the day journaling and writing positive intentions. Most of them stolen from mentors 😉 

Have faith. Believe that you’re awesome. Spend time with awesome people who also know you’re awesome. And with that, I have complete faith that you will live an awesome life. 

Let’s go get ’em, friends.

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their terms. Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life at tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you share his content with friends and family.