Wow! January really flew by and here we are in the middle of February — and if we’re being honest, some of our New Year’s resolutions have probably flown right out of our minds — and ready to replace those resolutions, are old habits that just won’t let go. Don’t lose hope though, there’s still plenty of time to course-correct. After all, this is the start of a new year, the start of a new decade, and the start of, what I’m calling, “The Year of Perfect Vision”. I know, it’s a little cliché, but for this blog post, and hopefully, for the rest of the year, go with me on the journey of shifting our mindsets in order to actualize our dreams.
Due to the nature of our business, goal setting for the actor is a notoriously difficult feat to tackle. We do a great job of dreaming big but struggle with creating the manageable steps to make those dreams a reality. Which, unfortunately, leaves us standing at the starting line, not sure how to move forward. This is where Perfect Vision comes in.
So, what do I mean by “The Year of Perfect Vision”? Perfect Vision is having the clarity of mind to see exactly what you want, the focus to plot out the steps necessary to obtain it, and the follow-through to make it happen.
Aside from constantly educating ourselves, we have to develop the ability to envision the careers we want. To clearly envision where we want to be, we have to first honestly assess where we currently are. In the vast majority of my classes and conversations with fellow actors, the idea of not being where we could or should be has come up often. Shift that thinking y’all! That mindset won’t make it any easier to get where you want to be. In fact, it’s just more likely to keep you exactly where you are! To help with that perspective shift, keep these ideas in mind:
- We are not in a race.
- We are not behind.
- We don’t need to catch up.
- We are exactly where we are supposed to be.
Whether you’ve been acting for some time or you’re just starting out on your artistic journey, everything that you have experienced to this point has prepared you for what is next. It’s not until you realize that, will you be able to move forward with the peace-of-mind and persistence needed to create a long-lasting and fruitful career.
Now that you are in the right mindset, let’s talk about the idea of manifestation. You can’t have a Year of Perfect Vision without it. Manifestation is the act of creating something out of nothing, the act of turning a dream into a reality. We do this every time we break down a script and create a full person on stage or in front of the camera. Through the lens of Perfect Vision, it’s time to apply that thinking to our careers. Here are the 4 steps to manifestation I take any time I want to accomplish a new goal.
How to really begin The Year of Perfect Vision? Allow yourself to dream big and bold. At this point don’t concern yourself with the feasibility or practicality of your dream. Let your imagination run wild. Have fun with the possibilities. If we start from a place of fear or doubt or practicality, we’ll never be able to stretch ourselves to our full potential. An important step here is to write down your goals. Maybe make a vision board, or create a note on your phone. However you decide to write it down, just get it out of your head and somewhere that you can see it and work with it.
This is when you take those lofty goals and turn them into actionable steps. In my experience, it’s pretty difficult to achieve a big goal in just one step. Usually the bigger the goal, the more steps you’ll need to take before you get there. Take your time here. What are the clear steps you have to take to get closer to your goal? Make them: Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timely. No matter how small, you’re still moving forward.
Once your dream is drafted and your plans are clearly mapped out, the next step is often the hardest. Carve out time and prioritize what you want. Take those initial steps. Keep moving forward even if you’re unsure. Even if you meet resistance or you’re met with failure. Stay with it. I can tell you from my experience that there will be failure. You will make mistakes. And that’s ok! As long as you are learning from those mistakes and using them as an opportunity to grow, you will continue to move towards your objective. DO NOT LET IT STOP YOU.
After we complete the steps we mapped out to reach our goals, it’s imperative that we always take time to sit back and reflect. Were you successful in your endeavor? Did you get what you wanted? Are there ways in which you could improve your approach? Again, be okay with failing. Understand that the culmination of your Dream is going to take time.
Most importantly, just fall in love with the process. Aspire to improve. Listen to yourself and trust that what you want you can achieve. So, go forth, and Dream It. Draft it. Do it. Debrief it.
Remember, if you can see it, then it can become a ‘Perfect Vision’!
Born and raised on Chicago’s south side, actor, director, producer, and teaching artist Charles Andrew Gardner has a passion for illuminating the stories of the underrepresented. Over the past decade his teaching experience has spanned Dime Child, After School Matters, HHW, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, and Timeline Theatre Company’s Living History program, through which he has reached hundreds of Chicagoland students. On-camera credits include Chicago PD; feature films Olympia, Noise and Color, Every 21 Seconds, and Holding On; as well as multiple national commercials for brands including Hyundai, Liberty Mutual, Ford, and AT&T. Voice-over credits include Pepsi Co. , McDonald’s, Comcast, Walmart, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Charles is an Artistic Associate with Timeline Theatre Company where he has appeared in Paradise Blue (BTAA nomination for Best Featured Actor) and My Kind of Town (BTAA nomination for Best Actor) for which Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune named him one of 2012’s “Hot New Faces to Watch”. Other Chicago theatre credits include Objects in the Mirror, Stop.Reset.(us), and Buzzer(us) at Goodman Theatre; How Long Will I Cry at Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Macbeth and Othello at The Suitcase Shakespeare Company; The Great Fire(us) at Lookingglass Theatre Company and Spectacle Lunatique at Redmoon Theater. He received his BFA in Acting from Northern Illinois University, and is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity Association. In addition to his work on stage and in front of the camera, Charles is Vice President of Creative Cypher and President of Chicago Local SAG-AFTRA.
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