Contributed by: Paolo Crisanto Nuguid
1. Be the Early Bird
We’ve heard all those reminders about being on time and all those excuses as to why people are late. Okay, living in the metro means you always have to deal with traffic. It actually gets worse year after year. But com’on! It’s not a form of “force majeure”.
One effective technique that I’ve tried to make it on time is by not making it on time. Wait! That sounded weird. What I’m trying to say is that the probability of being punctual is much higher if we impose earlier call times on ourselves. Say you are expected to arrive at 8 in the morning for rehearsals, set your own call time at 7:30 AM.
We can also also take advantage of the technologies that we have right now such as apps (waze) and live traffic updates to plan the fastest route to our destination.
2. Make Concrete Plans
According to some studies, most creative people have a hard time dealing with plans and structure… but I beg to disagree! I think that if we just choose to channel our inner executives, we will be able to create S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-oriented, Time-bound) plans and deliver results.
We can start by having a vision of the direction and destination of our artistry. We just have to give up the ‘jack-of-all-trades, master of none’ mentality. Yes, I know it’s hard for us because our brains were designed to be cluttered. LOL. Kidding aside, our creative brains work in complex networks with multi-faceted processes making it harder for us to focus on a single idea at a time.
Upon identifying the direction that we want to take, we can already plan the steps in achieving that.
3. Expand Your Comfort Zone
I’m not going to debunk the second habit that speaks about focus and direction. I’ll be talking about expanding the comfort zone of our creative domain.
We can look into other forms of art or a different style/genre to observe, dissect, and gain inspiration. It doesn’t mean that we are changing our artistry. We are just instrospecting in an artistic sense.
Doing it can help us in 3 ways:
(1) It can help us innovate something distinct from existing works or art.
(2) It can strengthen our brand and identity as artists by helping us envision what we want and do not want to see in our creations.
(3) It will reduce our limitations and make us more fluid with work demands.
4. Mind Your Finances
We’ve heard a lot of warnings about the arts as a non-lucrative field. Before we get offended, we should take these as messages of concern rather than flak. The problem with us sometimes is that we focus so much on expression and feedback that we forget to ask ourselves if we still have the means to sustain our craft.
“Money doesn’t matter as long as you’re having fun.” I heard this once from a performer. Do yourselves a favor and DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS FAIRY TALE! Having money can help not just us but also our dependents. Money pays the bills. Money brings food to the table. Having money can also help improve and expose our craft by being able to attend more classes and pay for competition or showcase fees.
I know that this is not our area of expertise but we can get some help. There are financial planners out there who can give us advice on how to save and invest. If you are afraid to trust other people with your finances, you can research about financial literacy and monitor your own earnings and expenditures.
As for the business side of the arts, I shall discuss that at another time.
5. Filter Feedback
Social media is now deeply connected to our daily living. It is slowly overtaking mainstream media for information and entertainment because of its accessibility and mobility. This upsurge also gives us performers new platforms to showcase our artistry.
This technological breakthrough has advantages and disadvantages for our craft. One advantage is exposure to a wider audience. Additional features to some networking sites allow us to target our audience and promote our work to them.
We need to be cautious though in using these sites and in interpreting the feedback that we get. We should not allow ourselves to be slaves for likes, shares, and virality of our work. We should remember that “viral” does not necessarily equate to “quality”. Although a lot of excellent works have gone viral, there are also a lot of viral posts that lack artistic substance.
The lack of hype should never stop us from putting our work out there. We should only listen to opinions that matter: our mentors, industry leaders, and trusted colleagues. Let’s keep doing what we do and be our own biggest critic.
6. Take Quality Rests
Rest and sleep are basic physiological needs according to Maslow. For most of us in the performing arts, we overlook this need and oftentimes abuse our minds and bodies.
The time requirements of our field can sometimes be complicated and affect our body clock. During rehearsals and events, it is important to know when to peak and when to conserve our energy. We should also avoid unnecessary activities and take power naps instead.
Once a week we should also make it a point to go out, enjoy nature, get early morning sunlight, have relaxing conversations with our families and friends, eat our comfort food, and get as much sleep as possible. We need to reward ourselves for the work that we did for the week and energize ourselves for another busy one.
7. Keep A Grateful Vibe
We’ve heard all the advice about keeping a positive disposition in life. I have a similar thinking, but a different approach. While being optimistic means being hopeful for a good outcome and attracting good energy, having a grateful mindset is thinking that you are already living successfully but still aiming for more. That includes counting our blessings rather than thinking what’s lacking.
We should also avoid career comparisons with our colleagues. That will only lead to frustration and burnout.
Above all, we need to develop an intact spiritual life and be grateful to God, the source of all graces. Dedicating our achievements to Him is not just living successfully, but also living a purpose.