There’s nothing quite like the feeling of discontentment. You’re dissatisfied with where your life is right now, but you don’t know the first step to getting to where you go. Or maybe you’re just dissatisfied with one area of your life, or a part of yourself. There may be other people in your life, family and friends, who are unhappy with their own lives. It makes for good conversation over drinks, or during lunch period at school, or while the kids are outside playing in the yard. And generally speaking, for a lot of people, that is the most action taken – talking about your problems and then returning back to them, only to repeat the cycle once you get close to another breaking point.
Why is it that so many people allow their own discontentment and dissatisfaction to continue? Why do so many of us complain about our problems ad infinitum without making a serious attempt to change them? Most of the solutions to our problems are obvious.
I’m unhappy with my weight; I want to lose twenty pounds. The solution? Drop twenty pounds. So why is it, then, that instead of making the decision to lose those points and take the necessary action to do so, I whine about it for months on end, diet for one week, go back to my original unhealthy eating habits, and then whine some more?
I’m unhappy with where my career is; instead of working in a deadend entry level office job, I’d rather be a singer. The solution? Get my songs out there for public consumption to help increase your chances of becoming a professional singer. So why is it, then, that I continue suffering through the commute to work, suffering through the work day while feeling increasingly irritable as the days and months elapse?
There are reasons why we do this. Sometimes it’s because our cause seems hopeless. We focus so much on the statistics, the odds of making it, that we can’t imagine ourselves succeeding. So instead of trying, we just find a way to halfway tolerate the cards we were dealt. Sometimes all we see is the position we are currently in and the end goal, the position we would like to be in. The distance between the two seems so vast, so far off in the distance, that we can’t even begin to try to determine the proper steps to getting where we want to go. And sometimes we’re just lazy. We want the payday without a bunch of grunt work.
In order to start improving your quality of life, you must first determine exactly what you’re unhappy with. Make a list. This is a list you can easily make on a lunch break at work, or during the commercials of watching your favorite show. Once you’ve made this list, you have taken the first step to making your life better. And all you had to do to take this first step was take ten minutes out of your life and sit down with a pen and a sheet of paper. Since lists are broken out in an easier to read format, I’m going to proceed by outlining the steps to improving your life.
- Determine exactly what about your life you are unhappy with – make a list.
- Take each area or element you are unhappy with, and list the steps it would take to improve or rectify the issue (I’ll provide examples later on).
- Prioritize which of the steps you should take action on first – you may want to prioritize by either which steps you can take action on immediately, or by which areas of your life are in dire need of change.
- Designate time for working towards the change you need in your life.
These steps look simple enough, don’t they? Whether or not task is simple or difficult to achieve is relative, of course – but most of the things we wish to achieve aren’t nearly as difficult as they at first seem to be. Most of the things we want to accomplish just need to be broken down into smaller steps.
I wanted to give a few examples of this, because it’s easy to give the advice to take what you want to do and break it down into steps. Some will still have trouble with applying that advice to their own goals.
From a teenager’s perspective, let’s say that an area of your life that you are unhappy with is the fact that your parents don’t take your dreams seriously. Let’s say that your dream is to become an actor. This is a multi-layered goal really, because you’re wanting both to become an actor and you’re wanting your parents to take that seriously. At the end of the day, your parents want what is best for you and they want you to secure a happy future. When it comes to dreams relating to the arts, there are a ton of question marks there. Will you be able to step foot inside of the industry you’re aiming for? Once you do, will you be able to obtain any measurement of success? Is this something that will allow you to afford to sustain your living and recreational expenses? These are all questions that your parents want you to consider. For this example, I’m going to display two lists: the list I would create for getting my parents to take my dreams seriously, and the list I would create for my dreams of becoming an actor. First things first in getting your parents to take your dreams seriously is to demonstrate to them that your dream isn’t just fluff, isn’t just a whimsical hobby you’re using to pass the time.
Showing the Parentals I’m Serious About My Aspirations
- Research dream or aspirations and take notes. Print out informational pages and keep them in a binder. Continue adding to these notes.
- Participate in my craft (if acting is my dream, try out for school plays and community theater; if music production is my dream, work on making music, or volunteer that music to your school plays/community theater/local nightclubs/local radio shows; if dancing is my dream, dance in the school musical or talent show; if art is my craft, submit artwork to local art shows, or give a piece of art to your parents for their birthday)
- Invite parents to the events I participate in, so they have a chance to see my performance. This gives them a chance to see my talent.
- Look into art colleges, and research scholarships that could be applied to those colleges. Since this is my dream, it proves to my parents that I’m taking my goals seriously when I’m willing to do a lot of the legwork.
- After having completed some of these steps, sit down and have a serious heart-to-heart with my parents to explain my aspirations to them, how seriously I take them, and if I want to go the extra mile, ask if I have their support.
Acting Aspirations (How to Become A Successful Actor
- Study and practice my craft (this would involve watching behind-the-scenes documentaries, or movies with the director’s and actors’ commentary on it, so I can see the challenges and rewards the actors were faced with during those productions)
- Participate in my craft (see list above)
- Look into acting schools or art colleges and research scholarships (see above) – and while doing this, also looking for productions that are casting for parts.
- Audition for roles in local plays, commercials, television show productions, and films – commercials, TV shows, and films aren’t only filmed in Los Angeles, Vancouver, and New York City. The vast majority of The Vampire Diaries is shot in Convington, Georgia. The television show Empire is usually filmed in the Chicago area. Check for anything being produced locally.
- Network with other actors. In most industries, networking is key – even if I don’t hear of certain opportunities, my fellow actor friends might hear of an opportunity that is a good fit for me. Or maybe there’s a project they’re already working on that I can be involved with.
- Be creative and think outside of the box. Document my journey to becoming an actor and post it on YouTube to start building an audience/following. Create a blog for it and share it with the world. If nothing else picks up, then my YouTube video or blog might, which could lead to opportunities.
- As you are auditioning and networking, continue working on my craft, as this should be an ongoing thing to help ensure I am nurturing my talent.
We live in an information age where there is so much information at our fingertips. The information is just there, waiting for you to take advantage and sift through it. If I’m an aspiring actor, I can Google forums where current actors in the industry are griping about the challenges they’re faced with. I can Google the different things that actors find rewarding about the job. I can go to YouTube and check audition videos to see what production teams liked or didn’t like about a certain audition, or check their blogs to see what they say they like and don’t like about auditions. Or I can view the audition videos just to see what a real audition is like, so I know what to expect when I get there. This age that we’re in can give us a helping hand in getting to where we want to go, if only we’re willing to do the research and do the work.
You can create lists like this for just about any goal you want to achieve. It might be the single most easiest and most enriching things that you will do for yourself. At times we can feel helpless, or like we aren’t in control of our own lives. But writing everything out and seeing how easy some of the steps can be, can help to motivate you to get off of your can and actually make progress.
If you’re wanting to make the needed changes in your life, self-motivation is key. Someone else shouldn’t have to nudge you to do it. Other people will rarely take the time to nudge you to handle your own business. After all, they have their own lives to worry about. The responsibility, then, for you to get your life together rests fully on your shoulders. And if a better life won’t motivate you, you need to determine what will.
You are in control of your own future happiness. Now, it’s time for you to start acting like it.