How Your Focus Affects Your Attitude About Your Career
By now, we should all know how much hard work and determination goes into building a successful dance career. We know dancers don't have cookie cutter careers that follow a simple school-->degree-->application-->job process. As freelancers, we have to be diligent, creative, and persistent in making our dreams come true. When you're first starting out, it's easy to be excited, motivated, and positive. But what happens when you've been at it for a while, and you're not seeing the results you had hoped for? What happens when you're still trying to figure out how to navigate your dance journey, yet your friends are already moving up in their corporate jobs? Better yet, what happens when you've been busting your bum day in and day out, but your peers seem to be booking your dream jobs?
Well my friend, I've experienced all that and some. My friends were becoming doctors and lawyers. Others were even booking gigs with Beyonce'...meanwhile, I was still burning the midnight oil trying to get ahead.
At the end of last week's session of Sole Talk, I mentioned how the pressure I put on myself to make ends meet through only dance jobs led me to become bitter and resentful. While that's true, I don't think that's the whole story.
Part of my trip to "Bitter-Town" and "Resentful-Ville" was funded by my winnings from the Dare-to-Compare game I'm always playing. And it goes a little something like this...hit it. (Lame, I know. #Carryon)
So I have this tunnel vision. My work ethic is such that I keep my head down and power through, giving my full attention to my goal. I use all of my inspiration and energy towards reaching that goal, and I don't notice much else until I come up for air. That can be a gift and a curse for a couple of reasons.
It's a gift in that it allows me to be uber productive for a good amount of time. I can get tons of things done when I'm in "work mode." On the other hand, it's a curse in that I don't come up for air until I'm tired, almost fatigued. And when I'm both tired and unfocused, that's a recipe for disaster for me.
That's the exact time the Dare-to-Compare game comes creeping around the corner. When I've taken my eyes off my own prize, I suddenly start to notice what everyone around me is doing. And while I'm always happy for the experiences and accomplishments of others, it sometimes makes me question my own efforts and achievements.
I can see a video of someone's work on social media and be so amazed and inspired by their talent. Then all of sudden, my inspiration turns into "why don't I think to do something like that?" Or when I notice how far someone has come in their journey, after I've given a "great for them," I'm suddenly feeling as if I'm going nowhere.
Now, this isn't always the case. And also, let's not forget that I can be a bit of a drama queen. But I'm an artist. So that's okay.
However, what's not okay is that I'm always playing this comparison game. Why does someone else's success or opportunities have to say anything about what I'm doing? Must be the ego again, right? Miss thang is always quick to have me in my feelings.
Unfortunately, I know this game all to well. I've played it time and again throughout my journey. The bright side is that I've learned a thing or two about how to deal with Dare-to-Compare uneasiness.
When I get into those spaces of fatigue, sadness, restlessness, and overwhelm, I'm now able to take notice and work at shifting my focus quickly. What works for me is turning my mind off so I can tap into my inner self, which can be done in a variety of ways...meditation, prayer, quiet time in nature, laughter. This past weekend, it was dancing my heart out in a two-hour house class.
No matter what the activity is, I know to get out of my head and into my heart when that itch comes around. I find the silence within to recharge and restore my energy.
The take away here is to learn from my mistakes by doing one of two things: 1. Avoid the Dare-to-Compare game altogether. -OR- 2. Know to shift your focus to the peace and stillness within yourself to get back on track if you happen to play a round or two.
What you should know is that you are enough. We each have a journey to travel that is unique to our own interests and gifts. Comparing ourselves to others is a sure fire way to lose the joy the comes from doing something as courageous and awesome as becoming a professional dancer. Keep your joy, and dance on friends.
If my stories are helping you along your journey, I'd love to know. Or if you’re tackling an issue I haven’t discussed yet, I want to know that too. Click here to join our Working Dancer tribe, and you’ll receive my audition affirmations as a welcome gift.