8 Life Lessons I Learned After Dropping Everything & Pursuing My Dreams
It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win. ~ John Paul Jones Click To Tweet
It took me a long time to finally bite the bullet and leave the restaurant industry to pursue the entertainment industry full time. After several years of smiling while some jerk complains about his food, it was time I said “yes” to my dreams and “no” to my fear.
A friend of mine was hired as a 1st Assistant Director for an indie feature film and last minute their production manager quit. He asked me if I could fill in — mind you, I’d never been a PM before, but I had produced a few small projects, so I had an idea of what the job entailed.
The old me would have been scared and not have even considered saying yes, but lately I had come to realize that I hadn’t gotten anywhere because I hadn’t acted on opportunities that presented themselves. It was time to start pursuing my dreams.
I reached out to the producer and, one step after another, my retirement from serving tables began. I’ve learned a lot since. Here are the top 8.
1) Learn Your Habits
You wouldn’t think you’d have to study yourself like you’re a lab rat, but when your livelihood is on the line, you need to start treating yourself like an investment. The more productive you are, the higher your chance of getting ahead.
But it’s not just about sweat — you need to work smart, not hard. It’s very important not to fall back into old, bad habits — and yes, negative thoughts are bad habits too. I used to see an opportunity and not act on it because I was too scared, or thought I wasn’t good enough, but now, after studying myself, I know that was the old me.
I still struggle with going against my instincts and forcing myself into uncomfortable situations, but that’s where the good stuff is. You’re the competition for your own company just as much as you are the leader, so study yourself and plan your best attack.
2) Take Care Of Yourself
Most of us take our health for granted when it’s the most important part of our lives. While I was serving tables, I always ate the food there, simply out of convenience, even though I knew it wasn’t treating me right.
Now I schedule in meals prepared ahead of time so that I know exactly what’s in my diet, and to make sure I’m on budget. Exercise is sooooooooooooo important because not only does it reduce stress (which you’ll be full of, don’t kid yourself), but it boosts creativity. It also provides you a sense of accomplishment.
You need to be strong physically and emotionally to balance yourself. The more moments of pride you have than failure, the more you start becoming the person you know deep down you are.
3) Yes, You’re Going To Turn Into That Person
We all know the type. The person that gets really excited about something and doesn’t ever shut up about it and just has tell the whole world how awesome it is. You know — that vegan friend that goes on and on while you’re staring at your half eaten cheeseburger thinking “she’s probably right, but it’s so good” — yep, them.
But you know what? Go ahead, be excited! Don’t dumb yourself down just so that others won’t be bothered. Just know that you may be the only excited person in the room, and this will help bring it into focus a little more. You’ll still have other things to discuss, so spread out your conversations and keep some things to yourself.
It sounds bad to hear (or read) but I’ve found — particularly because I’m in the process of pursuing my dreams, not just some initiative for an employer — that you want to keep out negativity, and, sometimes keeping things to yourself can make you feel more powerful and in control than hearing what the nay-sayers have to say.
4) Find Your Support Team — ‘Your’ People
I’ve been very fortunate to have a strong support team in my family, friends and my boyfriend who is on the exact same journey as I am. It’s very challenging and a mind-f*ck going through something this scary and exciting. You can’t go through it alone– it takes a team to get to the top. I’m lucky to have the people in my life cheering me on, but some people have to find their support group.
Whatever you’re aspiring to accomplish, there are other people out there you can turn to who know exactly what you’re going through and will push you when you need it, as long as you’re the type of person who does the same for them. These are your real friends. We all need that encouragement because the amount of “no’s” we hear everyday can be too much sometimes.
5) Get Tunnel Vision
It’s hard finding a good groove when you’re unsure of where to start. Yet I’ve found I can always get things rolling by self-inducing a type of “tunnel vision”. Once I do, everything gets clear and quiet and I remain, for the most part, clearly focused until whatever it is that needs to be done gets done.
So how to do it? You create new habits. And how do you do that? It has to do with cravings and rewards. There’s an amazing book by Charles Duhigg called, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business“, that lays the whole process out clearly.
By doing something called “becoming your word”, and doing the things you say you’re going to do, you get your reward: feeling good about yourself. In so doing, you start to crave work. It almost becomes an addiction because you feel antsy when you haven’t finished the work you set out to do and you won’t feel good unless you get it done.
The whole process also helps immensely with your self confidence and alleviating depression, because any negative thoughts you have feel so wrong to you that you immediately want to do something good for yourself to get rid of them and feel good again.
6) Don’t Do Anything With Selfish Intentions
I’ve learned that if you’re acting from a selfish, desperate place, it is only pain that will come your way– lots of it. When you move towards your dream with the intention of helping others along the way, people will do the same for you.
Everything is about building relationships. As an actress, I’m building relationships with casting directors, producers, directors and other actors that make them look good. That is my number one job.
I became a comedian because I wanted to make people laugh and think about things differently. Everything is all about the karma points you’re collecting and you never know when those points will be cashed in.
7) You Will Never Know Everything, So Just Keep Learning
Being a smart-ass or know-it-all doesn’t work, because even if you’re the most experienced person, you will never know everything. It’s really just a lame ego-game in the end, no matter how smart the person is. Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, coupled with smarts, can be a kick-ass combination.
Read what’s going on in your world and strive to be the best — but don’t forget that ‘being the best’ means being a better version of the previous you, and always works best when you are working (and playing) with others who are doing the same.
Each of us are unique, and striving to better, and there is nothing more conducive to true learning than surrounding yourself with others who get this. Before you know it, doors will be opening all over the place.
8) Do Or Do Not. There Is No Try.