1. The Year in Review, Part 2: Failure is how we Succeed

    Previously, I wrote about what happened this year that went well for me.  This was a year of tremendous change, and a true re-imagining of how I view and run my life.  And while there were many victories, there were also some things that I wish I had done differently or had turned out better.  That’s what this post is about. Some of my failures this year are intensely personal, but no less related to my outlook on the coming year.

    Relationships & Family.  This year, my father and grandmother (his mother) passed away within a week of one another.  I like to think grandma passed away first to welcome dad to afterlife and chastise him for not being a better son and father.  My dad and I weren’t the closest in life, and geography and language separated me from his parents, who spoke no English.  We think our parents (and grandparents) will live forever, or at least we hope they do.   When they passed away, I remember going to the ocean to honor their memories and thanking them for the lessons I learned from them, by their absence.  Which is to say:  you don’t get to choose your family, but appreciate them for who they are and what they have taught you, explicitly and implicitly.  My dad taught me about entrepreneurship, and about following through. 

    My grandmother taught me how to communicate effectively without ever saying a word.  When we used to visit my grandparents in Bangkok, I would watch them interact with my dad, and not understand a single word they were saying.  I felt tone, watched body language, and my Grandmother’s reactions to my dad were so strong, I felt I understood her, even though I didn’t understand any of the words.

    Both of them, in fact the entirety of my dad’s side of the family, taught me by their absence what a gift it is to know your family, and how important it is to forgive and let go.  If you could understand how you got certain traits or habits, could that possibly make you a more effective person or a kinder human being by doing more or less of something?

    The second lesson here, on a broader level, was to honor the relationships I have.  I am grateful for each and every person in my life, however long they choose to stay.  My part is to remain present and attentive, to make choices that nurture the relationship, and when our time is up, for whatever reason or circumstance, to let them go with honor and respect.

    Finances.  Guess what?  When you don’t have a steady pay check from a day job, your finances become a cash flow game.  On the whole, it was a good year for income as an actor, and using my savings effectively, but I could have done so much better.  Case in point, managing cash flow.  Knowing how much you need in your accounts, by when, so you can pay your bills and not incur the wrath (e.g., irritatingly expensive fees) of banks.  Over the past few years, I’d been working hard to create a process for managing my finances that allowed for this, but I didn’t plan for how that would change when my income went from a check of the same amount once every 2 weeks to a check of various amounts every whenever it came.  Because of this very expensive lesson, one of my areas of focus for the coming year will be how to manage cash flow on a freelancer’s unsteady income.

    Time & Energy Management.  I am my own boss, I manage my own time.  For the most part, I have been very good about keeping a rigorous schedule.  Each morning spent in exercise, meditation and then focused on auditions and creating.  Each afternoon focused on networking, and nurturing my relationships and mind with meetings, classes and performing.  I have found on the few occasions I’ve been sick or injured this year, that it’s been too easy to slip into laziness, and that I need to be more consistent about how I manage my time and energy.   In the first few weeks of the year, I’m planning a little experiment, a simplified version of a consultant’s time study.  The purpose is to document my time by accomplishment (or lack thereof) and identify patterns and areas to improve over the course of the year.

    I am a fan of the idea that you should fail early and fail often.  You should learn from those mistakes in order to grow and move on.  After all, even Thomas Edison failed at creating a light bulb the first 10,000 or so times.  The failures and missteps of this year are opportunities for me to grow and evolve.  And in the next post, I’ll explore what I’m focused on for 2013 and outline how I plan to get there.   Thanks for reading, and if you are so moved, feel free to share what you wish had gone better for you this year, and perhaps, how you’ll address it in the coming year!

    1 year ago  /  0 notes

  2. Mid Year Reflections

    Happy Summer!  The year is flying by and frankly, I’ve been a poor writer.   Apologies to you, and to myself - as I had made a promise to myself to write more this year.

    So I’m going to restart with a recap of what I had hoped to accomplish this year and some comments on how I did and what I’ll do to get where I want to be.   Call it my own personal mid-year review.

    My goal for 2012 is to “Stand Up” - to assert my voice and philosophy in my life and work.

    The questions I asked myself in January still apply:

    1)  How did I do?  Am I where I thought I would be? 

    2)  Are they still valid?  Do they resonate with who I am and who I want to be? Are there activities I should stop/start as a result?

    3)  Are there new goals, activities, pursuits to begin working on?

    1)  How did I do?  Am I where I thought I would be?

    The year began with a series of upheavals - massive shifts to the status quo of my world.  A relationship ended.  I parted ways with my life in Corporate America as a result of a reorganization and downsizing.  My father passed away.  People, situations, things I took for granted were suddenly… gone.  These are all facts, not statements to gain sympathy (though it is always appreciated).  And while there is grief in loss and change, there is also a bright light of opportunity.

    I embrace opportunity.

    Sure, there was a week or two when all I felt like doing was sleeping in and staying in my pajamas watching re-runs of “How I Met Your Mother” all day.  (And I did.)  But there was also so much wonderful activity.  Reconnecting with friends, old and new.  Practicing yoga intensively for two weeks straight - including my first experience with a juice cleanse.  Learning Argentine Tango in preparation for a trip to South America.  Journeying solo to Peru, Brazil and Argentina for nearly a month.  And auditioning like crazy for any and every voiceover opportunity that crossed my path… and booking gigs!

    I’ve experienced so many new things and learned so much (more on my journeys in a later post).  The most valuable experience by far was having this time and space to reconnect with my Self, my goals and how I want to live my life.

    I’m more energized than ever to use my skills and talents to create a career that is creatively focused and emotionally satisfying.  I’m not where I thought I would be 6 months ago - I’m beyond where I thought I would be, and inspired to keep moving forward.

    2)  Are they [my goals] still valid?  Do they resonate with who I am and who I want to be? Are there activities I should stop/start as a result?

    More than ever, I believe the goals I have set for myself are still valid, though with some adjustments.  One of my long term goals had been to establish myself as a voiceover actor and be able to work independently from Corporate America.  This year has been a huge stepping stone towards that.

    My overarching goal is to be an entrepreneur - the CEO of my life, making my dreams a reality.  To be an entrepreneur, or a solopreneur, really, takes self-discipline, focus and energy.  There’s no time clock to punch, no boss looking over my shoulder, no deadlines other than my own.  Which means it’s been up to me to get my butt out of bed when the alarm goes off.  I’m responsible for getting the coffee made, reviewing my schedule for the day, completing my auditions, working on projects, following up with people, and getting exercise.  Some days are easier than others.  There are days when I want to be lazy all day or procrastinate on a difficult task.  The key is finding the balance between productivity and recovery.

    3)  Are there new goals, activities, pursuits to begin working on?

    On the whole, I am living the life I want to be living.  And I feel I am living according to my principles and goals, but there is still room for improvement.  Namely:

    1)  Managing Time/Relationships:  It’s easy to spend all day in my home office or at the agency working on auditions and following up on projects.  Which means I spend much of my day flying solo.  And while I don’t miss the hours of meetings or random interruptions of life and work in a Cube Farm in Corporate America, I do miss connecting with coworkers over a coffee or meeting a friend for lunch.  With inspiration from Keith Ferazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone,” I’d like to set aside at least 1 day each week for meeting with people - catching up with friends, having coffee with mentors and re-connecting with far away friends and family.

    2)  Getting Enough Exercise:  I ran a half marathon for my birthday last year, which forced me to find the time to do training runs each morning as we led up to the race day.  Since then, I’ve been lazy about my running.  I’ve been dancing more lately, but I need to rebuild this discipline into my schedule - which means finding time to exercise (even if it’s a a quick walk after lunch) a little bit every day.  The goal here:  30 minutes at least 3 times a week.  I have a feeling there’s another half marathon in my future…

    3)  Managing Cash Flow:  In his book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” Tim Ferriss asserted that in order to create such a lifestyle, we have to be able to manage our cash flow.  I’m learning he’s dead on correct.  And while I had done a pretty good job of automating my finances when I drew a regular paycheck, the rules have changed now that I work as a freelancer.  So I have been meeting with financial planners for advice and reworking my budgets and personal cash flow models.  This is so much a work in progress.  I hope by the end of the year to have implemented a model that better reflects situation.

    In Summary

    Year to date, this has been a year to challenge the status quo and every assumption I’ve ever held dear.  In the first half of the year, I’ve both grieved for and embraced change.  I’m supremely grateful for this opportunity to create my “dream” life and career and can’t wait to see what else is in store.  I’m on the right track to accomplish my goals for the year (and beyond). 

    Your Turn:  How has the first half of 2012 treated you?  Are you where you thought you’d be?  What would you change or do differently to get you on the path to achieving your goals?  Comment away!

    1 year ago  /  1 note

  3. Happy 2012!

    Happy New Year!  The year behind us is history and everything ahead is the future.  I’ve got a few things up my sleeve for this beautiful, shiny, new year, and I’m excited to get started.

    I’m not much of a “Resolutions” person - it’s too negative (to me), too focused on stopping (a bad habit) or starting (some activity you personally feel is cruddy but “good for you”).  But the start of the new year is always a good time to look back at the goals I’ve set for myself and reassess:

    1)  How did I do?  Am I where I thought I would be? 

    2)  Are they still valid?  Do they resonate with who I am and who I want to be? Are there activities I should stop/start as a result?

    3)  Are there new goals, activities, pursuits to begin working on?

    If I think about the year ahead, the theme for the year is to Stand Up - to assert my voice and my philosophy on my life and work.  I’ll elaborate this on future posts, but for now I’ll leave it to you:

    - What are your goals (for the year or ongoing)?  Are you where you want to be or is there more to go?

    - Are your goals still valid for who you are and want to be?

    - Are there new challenges to conquer?

    Leave your thoughts in the comments….

    2 years ago  /  0 notes