“Why can’t I get a part in that big play? I hate being left off the cast list!”
Many of us have experienced not surviving the final cut for the best parts or a place on the team or cast. At first glance, this disappointment seems to work in career paths planning, too. A few folks can declare early on “I am going to be a doctor!” or “I am going to play professional football” and it actually works out! But for the majority of us, our career paths feels a bit fuzzy and undefined, and the odds of great success seem small.
Further, we are not really sure what we want to be when we grow up. Don’t worry! Often a career unfolds like a drama or a play, and it can take twists and turns that are hard for anyone to predict. So, then maybe what we need are a few tips along the way that help us become “better actors” as we act out our career drama. By learning to act well, we grow and create a perfect part for us, rather than waiting for it to appear.
Career Tip #1: Don’t wait for a script
Sometimes we may think that an organization, or a career path, has a detailed plan for us, and we spend time waiting for it to unfold. The real secret is that it is up to you. Figure out what you enjoy and begin to act in that direction. Which leads to tip No. 2.
Career Tip #2: Discover where you shine
You will be asked to do many things in a career. But start observing what kinds of activities really click with you and others. Often we can’t see ourselves too well, but if you notice that others seem to appreciate your work in a certain area, that could be a hint worth noting. Lean toward roles that energize you!
Career Tip #3: Join talented casts who are better than you
The best teams are developed with people who know more than you. No, you aren’t a dummy—they will respect you for what you know as well. But by staying close to those who excel in their roles, you will likely become better in yours.
Career Tip #4: Develop the art of listening on stage
Learn to reflect back to people what you just heard and confirm what they say. Consider their words and insights, and you will benefit beyond your years! If you are looking for wisdom, listening may help you find it!
Career Tip #5: Spend more time acting your part and less time wanting other parts
“Oh if I just had that other job!” “Oh, if they just noticed my work more!” Don’t waste time wanting things. Real career satisfaction comes from doing things. You will enjoy both the process and the output of your work, and over time, others will notice. Make your part special rather than waiting for that “special” part.
Career Tip #6: Travel to other stages
If you can, see other places and find out how others of different cultures approach their work. It brings great perspective and allows you to connect better in this increasingly global marketplace. Maybe take in a few scenery changes to help you grow as an actor.
Career Tip #7: Share with those actors behind you
Whether it’s high school kids following a path similar to yours or junior executives learning the ropes, everyone appreciates a leader who takes the time to share experiences. Give your career tips to others and they will not forget who they got it from.
Career Tip # 8: Allow yourself to laugh
Laughter makes audiences and workplaces worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to laugh—especially at yourself! Laughing changes the entire atmosphere of a meeting, or a hallway or one of your project groups! It also keeps your stress down and your health strong!
Career Tip #9: Start saving small
How does this help your career? It teaches discipline and perspective for the long haul. OK, now you might not have a lot of income from your early parts. But never be afraid to start saving small in your early career. Most retirement plans are now called “defined contribution”, which means what you put in drives what you get out. So, even though a Hollywood retirement is far away, start saving anyway.
Career Tip #10: Honor the good
When you see someone act out a great part in their chosen field, acknowledge them and learn from it. For instance, if you see someone who balances “acting” and home life well, learn from it. We grow from honoring and imitating others who excel. Overall, enjoy the career paths you find, and build on them to grow further.