Your Artistic Struggle Doesn’t Have to Suck

What’s up my friends?! 

This post was originally written for Which you know because you already follow my posts there….right? (RIGHT?!) 

Sorry. Read on. 

It was a rainy Tuesday afternoon and I couldn’t wait: in a few hours, I’d be attending my first-ever opening night performance and after party with one of my favorite big Chicago theaters. Mind you, I hadn’t purchased the tickets—yours truly is in credit card debt and waiting to book that national commercial. These were comps. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be going to this premiere event.

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It was kind of good. 

Speaking of finances, I knew I had to check my accounts and go over a few things before I left for the evening. This absolutely was not my favorite part of the day (see above), but it was necessary. And that day, it was extra necessary.

You see, I had made a grave error while attempting to make a small credit card payment the night before. Instead of making a small one, I made a very large payment, accidentally paying off the entire thing. I quickly called my credit card company but they couldn’t do anything because the payment was still “processing.” So I called my bank and got the “We’re experiencing a higher volume than usual” message before waiting on hold.

To add insult to injury: I had to message my acting coach about the check that she wouldn’t be able to cash because of my mistake. Why did I hire a coach? Because I had recently auditioned to attend the School at Steppenwolf, a move that would cost another several thousand dollars.

So here I was with a negative bank account, credit card debt, waiting to let my acting coach know if and when she could get her money, and wringing my hands over whether I’d get accepted to the school. Needless to say, it was not a relaxing day. Luckily, I had a trick, one I learned from thought leader and author, Preston Smiles: ask empowering questions.


I stole this photo – with love, (duh), from Preston’s Smiles Facebook page. He credits @jennaphillipsballard with the photo. That’s all. Carry on! 

During challenging situations like this, we can ask, “Will this matter three years from now? What good is here that I currently cannot see?”

I didn’t know how this issue would be resolved. But no, it wouldn’t matter three years from now. And the good here is that I can tell this story to inspire others who will realize I didn’t just make it big overnight and with ease. This takes work. This takes nerves. This takes mistakes and over-drafted bank accounts and bounced checks.

So what’s your challenge? Finances? A broken heart? Frustration with the industry? Will any of it matter three years from now? (Hint: Probably not.)

Let me know. Let all of us know. There might not be any evidence of your triumph yet but believe in yourself now anyway. And then when you’ve made it to the top, shout it to the rooftops.

You deserve to feel amazing exactly where you are today.

Let’s go get ’em, friends.

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What’s that? You want to hire me for coaching?!

Or maybe give an empowerment talk to your group or school?

Email me! Let me know how I can help.

Same goes for questions – you can ask those for free 😉 

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Thanks for reading!

By the way, I’m Tony. I live in Chicago. (Duh.) I’m an actor and blogger living right up the street from Wrigley Field. 

My blog is here to help others take control and live a more authentically positive life on their terms. Since working with a coach and learning more about personal development, I’ve started sharing my learnings with others. (I have a lot…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂You can also find me on facebook, instagramYouTube, or check out my actor website


Be Happier. Do What Works For You – Not Your Friends

I needed money.

I was on the phone with a very kind gentleman for an interview. The beginning of the conversation went fine. I shared my experience and qualifications. Shortly after, I got asked a series of questions?

What makes a good teammate?  

Why is it important to go out of your way in order to provide a pleasant experience for the customer?

Have you ever had a time where you encountered a difficult customer?

Talk about a time you experienced a conflict with a coworker.

By the time I was done answering, I wasn’t thinking about how I really needed money. All I could think of was how much I really, really didn’t want this job anymore. I didn’t like answering the questions. It made me focus on how much I didn’t want to be working jobs like this. It also made me think about my acting goals. Speaking of which…

I continued going about my acting goals. Not only was I still frustrated about finances, I also was getting down seeing others around me succeeding. Combine the two, and it did not make for a very happy Tony in Chicago. (See what I did there?)

There’s two points here

1) When we’re in a negative state, we’re going to attract more of what we don’t want. We tend to get what we think about most of the time. When we’re constantly upset about money, our career, or how others are doing better than us, we become aware of all the reasons why those things are true:

-We’ll find more expenses to worry about.

-We’ll focus on all of the acting jobs we didn’t book.

-We’ll start to notice lots of friends booking the job that we want.

Worst part: We’re going to stay broke and continue to be a struggling actor.

Being negative puts our focus on the negatives. The more we focus on them, the more of them we attract. This doesn’t mean there’s some magic force raining down problems and debt on your head. That would be silly. Rather, your subconscious mind is going to find every single reason why what you’re saying is true.

The good news is, this works the opposite. If you start focusing on things you’re grateful for, you’ll find the positives in more situations. This in turn will attract more positives and help you reach your goals.

2) What works for you might be different than what works for me. Some friends love waiting tables while they go about their acting goals. I found that didn’t work for me. When we focus too much on what our friends are doing, it’s putting our energy in the wrong place. It’s much better serving to ourselves when we focus on what action we can take in order to be happier. This might mean our goals take a little longer, which I’ve learned to be the case with the path I’ve chosen. It’s making me happier as I work towards those goals. I’d rather be happy now.


Take whatever path it is that works for you. Don’t worry about your friends. They’re on their path. They have different preferences for what lowers and raises their own vibration. (And if the word “vibration” doesn’t work for you – no sweat. Rephrase it however you need so that you focus on things that make you happy.

Put blinders on. Focus on your goals and your goals only. Do things that make you happy. You’ll be just fine.

Love you guys. Go get ‘em.

Priorities Are Important. Don’t Skip This One.

I’m an organized guy, yes?

[Guys in the back loudly disagree.]

Okay, you got me there. While I’m not the most organized person, I’ve gotten better with areas I previously struggled in. Like priorities.

It’s one thing to know your priorities. It’s another to put them on paper in order of most important to least. I felt pretty damn good once I started to learn my own.  Though admittedly, I didn’t bother to order them. “Eh…whatever. They’re all my priorities. I’ll figure it out.” Between my acting goals, coaching goals, overall health goals, and finances, I thought I was all set.

And when we’re all set, it’s normal to go to bed incredibly stressed out every night, yes?

Since I quit waiting tables and got my own apartment, I have less stress than I’ve had in years. Where on earth was this coming from?

Then I heard a voice: “Make happiness your priority.”

What?! Who said that? GOD?!

…it wasn’t God. It was Shawn Anchor in an interview I was listening to. (I did mention I was listening to a Shawn Anchor interview, right?)

Hmm…happiness…..How the hell am I supposed to be happy if I’m not working on my goals? How am I supposed to be happy if I have no money? And I’m certainly not going to be happy if I don’t have a six pack….

(….maybe I’ll be okay without the six pack. )

All of these are all important. Just not at the expense of my happiness.

Working on my coaching business and acting goals are a priority. They make me happy, especially when they bring in that thing called money. What I’m learning is that I can be happy working on these every day for a certain amount of time, without spending all of my time working too much without taking breaks or making time for social activities.

Then there’s health: I’ve reached a goal where I stopped giving into instant gratification and refuse to indulge in cheat meals unless it’s specifically a cheat day. While I’m proud of this goal, I’m learning that I let it contribute to more stress. I had learned how easy it was to stay home and skip shows and activities without the worry of food and sleep. The more I stayed home and skipped going out, the more unhappy I was getting.

These are all areas I’ll be more comfortable in a month from now. At which point, I’ll probably be able to talk about this topic even better (Not to mention write a better blog post….) Regardless, here’s my biggest takeaway so far: We should focus on how to go about our goals and priorities in a way that makes us happy. This might not always be the “right” way to go about it, or the way our friends and family tell us. While we don’t want to shun advice from others, it’s okay to stray from the path that’s often classified as “the way you should do it.”

I had been so focused on what motivational speakers have been telling me in interviews, youtube videos, and even social media posts, that I wasn’t focusing on how I felt. Well now….that’s just silly.

Don’t be silly. Just…be happy. 🙂 Go get’ em, friends.

Why Transition Periods Are Stupid

I got a new apartment.

I had a long list of reasons why I was excited to move in. I couldn’t wait to start experiencing all of them.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a real experience without hitting some roadblocks.

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Moving requires a transition period. You’re adjusting to a new living environment. This means a change in your daily routine, plus figuring out where the closest places are in your neighborhood to run errands. Granted, a quick google search will help. But then there are other factors you may not have considered.

Here were some of mine:

-Technical difficulties of every kind: Broken internet. Workout DVDs wouldn’t play on my laptop. Printer wouldn’t work. Cellphone was constantly freezing.

-Realizing all the things I needed to buy: Everything from trash barrels to a shower curtain. This would take time….and money. Speaking of which…

-Moving costs money. Renting a truck, putting gas in your friends’ car who was nice enough to let you borrow it, putting gas in the truck that you rented…it all adds up.

I very quickly hit a point where all I could see were negatives.

After going through my “Woe is me,” “All I can see are negatives,” “Did I seriously just break my coffee pot?” phase, I remembered some cool tricks I got from personal development.

Despite the transition, I really didn’t have a serious problem. I had finally got my own apartment. It’s exactly where I want to live for exactly the amount I want to be paying. I’m even closer to public transportation. My “problems” weren’t real life problems.

Even if I did have a problem, all of these things were temporary. I was going to get internet again. I’d be getting more paychecks soon. I could seriously go to Walgreens and buy a new coffee pot (which I did, begrudgingly). All of these were just a temporary inconveniences, and would eventually lead to an awesome 2015.

Hell, forget about the rest of the year. It’s only been a week.

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Internet is great. New printer is on the way. Solved my DVD issue. And finances? Working on it 🙂 But I did snag two phone interviews, attended two commercial auditions, plus got two unexpected paychecks.

Last week I thought I’d still be broke with no internet and no way to get my work done without going to Starbucks. I couldn’t see the other end of the tunnel.

Our struggles are temporary. Some last longer than others. But as long as you remain positive that you can and will get through them, you’ll be fine.

Of course, it helps when your Patriots win the Superbowl too.


We were a little excited. Thanks for my 1522 friends for hosting! 

Stay positive. Keep going.

And, of course, GO PATS!

3 Steps You Can Take To Constantly Feel Stressed and Cranky

Let me guess: When you’re in a bad mood, you want to stay in a bad mood. Forget about all the good things going on. There are wayyyy too many bad things, right? And forget about all those people trying to help. They definitely don’t understand. Am I right?


Of course I’m right. You’re reading my blog. That means you think the way I think. When I’m in a bad mood, I like to stay this way for a good three to six hours (at least). I’ve gotten pretty good at this. And because I’m a nice person, I’d like to share with you how to stay in this bad mood in three simple steps:

1) Spend hours focusing on all the negatives in your life that you can’t control.

Two weeks ago I was panicking. I was waiting on several paychecks that weren’t showing up as quick as I wanted them to. Each time I arrived to an empty mailbox, I got angry and upset.

I’ll say that again: I was letting my mail carrier be the determining factor over whether or not I went to bed happy. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, congratulations! You’ve accomplished step one and may proceed.

2) Spend tonight focusing on all of the things you didn’t get done today.

Remember that time you woke up thinking about how great today was going to be? You had a list of things you were ready to knock out. Once they got done, you’d feel accomplished and awesome.

…that was this morning. You got one of them done. Maybe two. WOW. That’s a failure if I ever heard of one.

I’ve done this more times than I can count this month. “Today sucked. I suck. And tomorrow will probably suck too. Guess there’s nothing left to do except sit and sulk for another hour before I go to bed.”

(If and only if you have mastered the “sit and sulk” concept, may you proceed to step three.)

3) Avoid any and all steps – especially baby steps that will eventually lead to bigger ones – that could better your situation.

Don’t make a list. Don’t clear off your desk. Don’t check your calendar and find that one window tomorrow where you know you can be productive. That’s the opposite of what we want. Rather, focus on the money you don’t have. Focus on the time you don’t have. Focus on the jobs you haven’t gotten. Anything that could better your situation right now means you failed, and steps one and two were all for nothing.


STAY ANGRY! (Don’t look at smiling Graham. He’s not angry….neither is Jason M Hammond who took this photo….)

….Though I suppose it wouldn’t be fair unless we at least glanced at the other side of things.

Know that Courtney Rioux I keep mentioning? If you go to her website at, you’ll find you can both sign up for her blog, plus receive a free thirty minute audio titled, “How to Be Happy No Matter What Life Throws at You.” (But definitely don’t listen to this if you want to master all three steps I just mentioned.)

I’m paraphrasing here – there’s an example Courtney gives of someone getting upset as they realize they forgot their wallet at Starbucks. Because they’re so frustrated, they don’t even notice the person behind him in line offering to pay for their coffee.

My question to you is this: What positives are you missing because you’re too busy focusing on how “good” it feels being stressed and cranky?


I had NO idea that guy behind me was there. (Though I’m sure photographer Dan Patton from did….)

We’re not perfect. We’re going to “fail” with our agendas and our emotions. But we don’t need to beat ourselves up each time it happens. There’s always going to be positives around us, even if we can’t see them.
Start looking for them today.

The Perfect Moment Doesn’t Exist

You know that thing you keep saying you’ll do? That one step you could take that could change your life? The process might  take  time, effort, and hard freaking work. But it would ultimately benefit you in the long run. You know that thing?

Why haven’t you done it yet?

Here’s the most common answer: It’s just not the right time.

“I’m too busy right now. I’ll start when things settle down.”

“I don’t have enough money right now. I’ll start in a couple of months when things should be better financially.”

“I’m going to wait until the beginning of the (week/month/year). That feels like a better time to start.”

You guys. We need to stop.


Like, seriously.

Let’s break these down.

“I’m too busy.” Think back to a month ago. We had the holidays, end of the year projects to complete, trips to plan, and oh-so-many parties to go to. Most of us were putting things off then and planning to do them now in January. Do you still find yourself using the “too busy” excuse this month?

Life isn’t going to stop giving you more things to do. Is February really going to be any different?

“I just can’t afford it right now.”  I think I’ve used this excuse more than any of these. I can’t afford to go to the gym. I can’t afford to eat healthy. I can’t afford this acting related expense. Once I did put money into both my acting career and my health (two of my highest priorities), my accomplishments increased.

Paying more for headshots led to more auditions and gigs. Paying over a hundred dollars for a workout program and meal plan led to me being the health-nut I never thought I’d be. Which then lead me to being more confident in auditions. It all pays off. And usually, we only have to pay for it once.

Even though we might be in a tough spot financially, we tend to use that same amount of money – sometimes in smaller increments – in other areas instead. These usually are fun activities that don’t move us forward. Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to have time for social activities. But when they constantly come at the expense of our goals…is it worth it?

“I’ll start on Monday.” This one is the worst. We think we’re taking action by giving ourselves a future date to start. Really we’re just procrastinating by using a number on a calendar.  It’s toxic. It’s going to keep you from being your best self as long as you allow it to. That’s just not fair.

So. What can we do about this?

Instead of focusing on all of the reasons that taking action will be inconvenient now, consider how this temporary change will set you up for success for the rest of your life.


It’s time for YOU to take action! (Thanks to Ben Gonzales for the pic!)

-Need to start exercising? Sure, the transition to a healthy lifestyle is tough. But stay consistent and a year from now you’ll be a master. Which leads you to being healthy for the rest of your life.

-Want to take an awesome, expensive acting class? Sure, that could lead to picking up more shifts and going out less for the rest of the month. Yet the skills you learn and the relationships you build could benefit your entire career.

When we focus on how amazing our future is going to be, we create less stress on the temporary inconveniences the action may cause.

Then again, you can just keep putting that task off. That’s okay too. I mean, you’re okay with staying in your current situation for the rest of your life…..right?



Go get ‘em, friends. Stop waiting for the perfect moment. Be the amazing person that you know you’re capable of being.